Actress Nina Wadia has spoken for the first time about how the storyline came from her own real life experiences.
Wadia, who plays Zainab Masood on the BBC One soap, is set to depart next month after nearly six years on screen. In an interview with the Radio Times she has spoken about the gay storyline which involved her on-screen son Syed (Marc Elliott) and Christian Clarke (Johnny Partridge).
The story saw Syed battling with being a Muslim and falling in love with man, while the storyline also focused on the reactions of his parents Zainab and Masood (Nitin Ganatra).
“The whole story about Syed being gay came from something real that happened in my life. I really wanted to explore this huge part of Muslim culture that exists but is not acknowledged.” – Nina Wadia
She recalled that she used to write for a paper and wrote an article bout how gay men are ostracised by society. Wadia praised the producers for making Zainab the homophobe rather than Masood.
“Initially though, I was really upset when they made Zainab the homophobe. I’d been hoping Masood (Nitin Ganatra]) would have the problem. But, in the end, I was glad that they made it Zainab because a mother’s love for her son is complicated and that storyline really allowed it to be explored.”
Nina decided to leave EastEnders late last year and has since revealed that she wanted to be killed off, but bosses have opted to leave the door open for her character instead.
Marc Elliott, who played Syed, quit the soap last year. Nina revealed that this was also a factor in her decision to leave.
Nina Wadia’s final scenes play out next week on EastEnders.