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"We loved each other once!"
~ Yusef attempts to maintain his authority over Zainab when she defies him in light of his domestic abuse and coercive control towards her.

Yusef Khan is a fictional character and recurring antagonist of the British soap opera EastEnders. He appears as a supporting character in 2010 before becoming the show's main antagonist throughout 2011, the year which in the serial was dominated by Yusef's storyline that saw him controlling and abusing his remarried ex-wife Zainab Masood; feuding with her other husband Masood Ahmed; and plotting to destroy Zainab's marriage with Masood that nearly ended up breaking their entire family apart. The climax of Yusef's reign of villainy saw him being killed-off amid Christmas 2011 when he started a fire in a failed attempt to kill Zainab and Masood, only to end up dying himself in the resulting explosion.

He was portrayed by Ace Bhatti.


Yusef Khan first came to Albert Square as the new local general practitioner, several years after his predecessor May Wright had died. He meets his daughter Alfa and is introduced to her boyfriend Tamwar Masood, who suspects that Yusef deems him unworthy for Afia due to his own poor background. When Yusef learns that Tamwar's mother is Zainab Masood, he goes to visit her house and she screams in terror before ordering him to get out.

It soon transpires that Yusef and Zainab were previously married. Yusef's family had arranged their wedding when he was just 17 years old, and during the ceremony Zainab had been victimized in an incident where she ended up getting oil poured onto her and was sent on fire. Since then, Yusef has asserted that his family were the ones who set Zainab on fire and he barely managed to save her - which appears to be evidenced by bad scarring on his body. When Zainab's current husband Masood Ahmed learns about this, he assumes that it was Yusef who did this to Zainab and attacks him - punching Yusef twice despite both Tamwar and Afia attempting to retrain him. Masood then expresses his wishes for Tamwar, his son, to discontinue his relationship with Yusef's daughter; however, Yusef manages to convince Masood to give Tamwar and Afia his blessing.

Yusef thereafter begins to settle himself in Walford, using his GP status to bond with many local residents such as Dot Cotton as well as form a brief relationship with Zainab's best-friend Denise Fox. At one point, Yusef supports Denise when her former husband Lucas Johnson is sent to prison for kidnapping her as well as killing both their ex-spouses Trinia Johnson and Owen Turner respectively. Yusef is later pickpocketed by notorious golddigger Janine Butcher, who tries unsuccessfully to seduce him before he ends up rejecting her romantic advances.

By then, Yusef and Masood have become archenemies to the point where the two proceed to embark on a longstanding feud with each other. This continues when Yusef encourages Zainab and Masood's estranged son, Syed Masood, to take the first step in making amends for being gay by attending Tamar and Afia's engagement party. The ceremony goes well until the roof ends up collapsing and Syed is injured. While Syed recuperates in hospital, Yusef attempts to spend time with Zainab by summoning her to the hospital under the guise that Syed could die. He stands by Zainab's side when they await for news on Syed's condition, only for Zainab to later find out that Syed's injuries weren't too serious. Realizing that Yusef had tricked her, Zainab berates him and informs Masood about the deception. Masood confronts Yusef, who tauntingly claims that he is sleeping with Zainab and that she is planning to reconcile with him and leave Masood for good. Angered, Masood seeks to force Yusef out of Walford and requests for the square's local hardman Phil Mitchell to help with this plan. Together, Phil and Masood kidnap Yusef before taking him to a warehouse - where they tie up Yusef in a chair before Phil then leaves Masood to deal with Yusef on his own. Wanting to scare his nemesis away, Masood threatens to pour petrol over Yusef unless he agrees to leave Walford. Yusef reluctantly agrees, though it turns out that the petrol is actually water and an unharmed Yusef seemingly leaves the square for good.

When Masood returns home, however, he is surprised to see Yusef with cuts on his face and by his family's side. Yusef claims that Masood had attacked him, which his own family believe. Zainab also believes Yusef over Masood and responds by kicking her husband out of their house, before comforting Yusef over his supposed ordeal. On the day Tamwar and Afia are due to get married, Yusef convinces them not to invite Masood to the ceremony. They agree and end up getting married despite Masood's efforts to stop it. Shortly afterwards, however, Yusef's cousin Tariq show up and reveals that he had lied about his family starting the fire that burnt Zainab - it was Yusef who had set Zainab on fire all along.

Despite this revelation, Yusef manages to manipulate Zainab in trusting him over Masood. He soon plots to destroy Zainab's marriage with Masood in order for remarry Zainab himself, to the point where he plies with her pills and later conceals them in her food. This leads to Zainab passing out and being hospitalized, where her family incorrectly rule out that she took a deliberate overdose due to her marriage with Masood suffering a breakdown. When Masood learns of Zainab's hospitalization, he blames himself for causing Zainab's situation and the couple end up having a divorce. Because of this, Yusef's plot to ruin their marriage is successful and he thereafter resolves to manipulate Zainab into remarrying him.

Yusef's efforts to accomplish his plan soon includes taking advantage of Zainab's family and their personal problems. For starters, he helps out Syed in trying to find his wife Amira Shah and visits her father Qadim at his office - professing his services to avenge his family for hurting Amira and her feelings. After Amira gives birth to Syed's daughter Yasmin and their relationship improves because of it, Yusef persuades Zainab to go on a holiday with him in Pakistan and suggests that they and her youngest son Kamil all more there permanently to start anew as a family together. On their return to Walford, Yusef attempts to turn Amira against Syed by telling her that she is not wanted by the Masood family. Amira ignores him and gets Zainab to meet Yasmin. Afterwards, Zainab tells Yusef that she cannot leave Walford after becoming a grandmother. Yusef soon targets Syed's boyfriend, Christian Clarke, and reveals to him that Syed is Yasmin's father. Christian then asks Yusef to perform a secret paternity test on Yasmin to determine his future with Syed. Taking advantage of the situation, Yusef uses his own DNA for the test - creating a false result in an attempt to allow Syed's situation to seduce Zainab in reconsidering Yusef's suggestion. However, Yusef's deceit is exposed and Zainab hostilely rejects him - even when he claims that he lied to protect her from the stress that she is having with Syed's own issues. Later on, Amira visits Yusef and requests for his help in rebuilding her marriage with Syed - otherwise she would tell Zainab about Yusef buying her a plane ticket in what appeared to be an attempt to get her to leave Walford. Seeking to put his plan back in motion, Yusef complies and is successful after hearing that Christian has befriended Phil's young son Ben Mitchell - who had recently come out as homosexual. Yusef fabricates the outcome that Christian had been inappropriate with Ben, and forces him to tell Phil that results in the square learning about this. Because of this, Christian leaves Walford after his relationship with Syed ends and Alina gets back with him in the end.

Although Yusef is deemed a hero for helping out in many situations that he himself had been conjuring without the square's knowledge, Zainab remains distrustful for him. He attempts to exploit her feelings after saving Phil's little cousin, Amy, from passing away on a deathbed after she nearly gets drowned in another incident. In light of this heroic act, Zainab tells Yusef that she is proud of him and they get engaged. He attempts to persuade Zainab to move to Pakistan with him, and recruits Amira to manipulate Syed with the same idea. It is then Yusef begins to act violently towards Zainab, at one point slapping her when she disrespects his wishes for them to move to Pakistan. She accepts his apology and they continue to make plans for the wedding. When Yusef meets up with Tariq to help finalize the wedding preparations, he offers him Afia's restaurant to buy his silence in not telling her the truth about what Yusef had done to Zainab. However, after learning that Yusef lied about the restaurant's ownership, Tariq visits Afia and reveals that Yusef was the one who started to fire that burnt Zainab - not his family as he previously claimed. Afia then confronts her father with the truth and threatens to tell Zainab unless he does so himself. Left with no other choice, Yusef confesses to Zainab that he was the one who set her on fire and had lied about his family being the perpetuators. Angered, she kicks him out of the house; Zainab later forgives Yusef, however, and the pair end up getting married.

Following their second wedding in Albert Square, Yusef starts domestically abusing Zainab whilst striving to retain his coercive control on her. This is first exemplified when Yusef drags Zainab back to their house after getting involved in an argument between her and cafe owner Jane Beale. An argument then breaks out between them, during which Yusef tells Zainab that Kamil will be an outcast to the square with the way she is behaving. Zainab slaps him in response, only for Yusef to slap her back afterwards. Yusef then hastily arranges a flight for himself and Zainab, along with Kamil, to move to Pakistan. Unwilling to go through with the trip, however, Zainab purposefully discards her passport. Yusef then kidnaps Kamil and gives him to a relative family called the Bushra's. After making Zainab believe that he is missing for four days, Yusef returns Kamil to Zainab and it emerges that he fabricated a story to the Bushras that Zainab had a nervous breakdown.

When Yusef takes a call outside the café, Zainab tries to escape with Kamil through an emergency exit in the back of the shop. However, Yusef anticipates this and corners them back inside. He then proceeds to threaten Zainab with an ultimatum; either Zainab remains loyal to Yusef, or he will rid her of both Kamil and Tamwar by killing them. Zainab initially feels like she has no choice but to agree with Yusef's demands, but then Masood suddenly interferes and tells Zainab that he will do whatever it takes to help her against Yusef. Having reconciled with Masood and realizing that she still loves him, Zainab finally stands up to Yusef by making it clear to him that she will not be going to Pakistan. Yusef responds by lashing out at her, but this allows Masood to rescue Kamil before he then proceeds to rescue Zainab by attacking Yusef. Moments later, Afia arrives and learns that her father has been abusing Zainab despite refusing to believe it on several occasions. Heartbroken and betrayed by her father, Afia disowns Yusef and he leaves as Masood calls the police to report his domestic violence. Soon afterwards, Yusef's coercive control and domestic abuse towards Zainab becomes public knowledge in the square - with many of the residents learning about his evil nature at long last.

On Christmas Night 2011, Yusef secretly returns and takes refugee at the B&B. Masood later finds him there with a match and some petrol. They fight and Yusef knocks Masood out before setting the B&B on fire and leaving his rival to die in an attempt to get revenge on Zainab for defying him. Zainab and her family are soon alerted to the fire, along with many residents. In the ensuing situation, both Phil and Denise get trapped inside the fire; Christian returns at this point and helps Phil's girlfriend Shirley Carter rescue him and Denise. However, Zainab discovers that Masood is still trapped inside the B&B and ends up coming face-to-face with Yusef once more. Yusef begins to taunt Zainab over Masood's potential death and how it would grant him the perfect opportunity to reclaim her beyond anything that would stop that from happening. In response to this, Zainab tells Yusef that Afia has gone inside the building to try and rescue him upon believing that her father was trapped in the B&B.

Although this is proven to be untrue, Yusef believes that his daughter is inside the building and - fearing for the worst - rushes in the B&B. It is in that moment when Masood ends up getting rescued by Tamwar, and the pair escape just as Yusef rushes in the building under the guise that his daughter is trapped in the fire. Yusef then hears Afia calling her father from outside the building and sees her with Zainab amongst several others. Realizing that Zainab tricked him, he briefly smiles and is about to leave when the floor suddenly collapses beneath him; Yusef ends up falling into the flames, and is consequently killed in front of Zainab and Afia along with everyone else. The following day, Yusef is pronounced dead when his body is retrieved by firefighters before being taken away in a private ambulance. In 2012, Yusef's funeral occurs and he leaves everything to Zainab in his will. Since then and despite facing a number of subsequent circumstances that ultimately leads to her leaving the square for good, Zainab has managed to overcome her ordeal with Yusef and thus his reign of villainy has ended in vain for him.



  • Ace Bhatti (the actor who played Yusef Khan) was nominated for "Villain of the Year" and "Best Storyline" at the 2012 British Soap Awards, as well as being shortlisted for a number of awards as various ceremonies.