For five years Nina has played Zainab, the outspoken matriarch of the Masood family (pictured). In true EastEnders fashion life in Albert Square, Walford, hasn’t been brimming with happiness as the character has suffered everything from an abusive relationship to having to work alongside Ian Beale.
Other plots have seen affairs, a failed Post Office, an on-off marriage of 30 years, a disastrous restaurant venture and coming to terms, after a long spell of homophobia, with the fact her eldest son was gay.
“If everyone were just happy, there wouldn’t be a lot of people watching the show.” Nina notes in the Radio Times.
Of course there was a time when 18 million would tune in just for a happy not much happening episode of Corrie, but times according to soap bosses have changed. Despite this Nina notes she wanted to add some lighter shade to EastEnders.
“When we created the character of Zainab, the one thing I insisted on was that she should be funny. I think people love to have a bit of a laugh, even in a soap.”
After half a decade in the BBC saga she told the magazine there were several reasons for qutting the corporation’s flagship soap opera,
“ I felt that I’d explored Zainab as much as I possibly could. As an actor, I’d never been in anything so long term and it was certainly brilliant to age with Zainab and find things in my personal life to give her layers. But I also found that I was missing the creative process of playing other people and starting from scratch. So I think that’s really the reason.”
Adding that another reason was to spend more time with family, “It is a punishing schedule, but that is what you sign up for. It is upsetting if you don’t get to see your child in their nativity play because you’re filming, but the production team do their best to accommodate.”
The actress who has also starred in comedy Goodness Gracious Me and sci-fi drama Doctor Who, isn’t ruling out a return to ‘Enders.
“..They gave me the biggest compliment in the world by leaving the door open. And you never say never in this profession.”
EastEnders, BBC One, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday