EastEnders star Nina Wadia has recalled the moment she told co-star Nitin Ganatra that she was leaving the soap.
Wadia announced her decision to leave her role as Zainab Masood towards the end of last year and the character will depart Albert Square for good next week (8th February).
Wadia revealed to TV Times that Ganatra, who plays her screen husband Masood, went very quiet when she initially broke the news.
“It was really quite horrible. He sat in the dressing room and I said, ‘Listen up, I’ve got some news’. Marc Elliott and myself used to play tricks on people the entire time so, when I went all serious, Nitin was like, ‘This is a joke, right?’ and I went, ‘No, I’m not going to tell you a joke. I’m leaving’.
“He went very quiet but then I explained my reasons and he understood. The same goes with Himesh [Patel, on-screen son Tamwar]. He was particularly upset.” – Wadia
Since her arrival in Walford five years ago, Zainab has become known for her sharp tongue and no nonsense attitude, and Wadia revealed that her character had been intended to replace the legendary Pauline Fowler who shared similar characteristics.
“I said as long as it’s a Pauline Fowler who has a sense of humour, I’m happy to play her. That’s what I wanted to make very clear; that I wanted her to be funny, and they were happy with that because they’d known me for my comedy work.”
Speaking about her decision to leave, she added: “I think it was Ricky Norwood, who plays Fatboy, who said to me, ‘You know, you’ve been in EastEnders for a fifth of its life’, and that frightened me a bit. Not in a bad way, it just made me think that I’ve created this person that I hope people have liked, and maybe it’s time to go off and do it elsewhere.”