Nina Wadia is to leave EastEnders after more than five years playing matriarch Zainab Masood. Writing on Twitter about her departure, the actress said:
“Playing Zainab has been a gift and a privilege. I’ll always be hugely proud of the fantastically talented friends I’ve worked with. And I’m so grateful for the special bond with our audience who watch and care and talk to us every day – we’re a family of millions. Letting go of something you love is never easy but the time has come to move on and every ending brings a new beginning. Here’s to future loves…xxx”
Since her arrival in Albert Square in 2007, Zainab has been at the centre of many long-running storylines, notably a shock pregnancy in her mid-40s, the sexuality of son Syed and the domestic abuse she suffered at the hands of Yusef Khan.
EastEnders executive producer Lorraine Newman last night paid tribute to the actress: “For the past five years, Nina has brought to life the wonderful Zainab – the formidable, fun-loving, opinionated, fiercely competitive matriarch. Nina’s range as an actor is quite exceptional, from her comedic double acts right through to her ability to pull on our heartstrings with incredibly moving drama. We are very sad to be losing Nina and wish her well in ventures new. She will be missed by the production as much as the audience,” she told the Daily Star on Sunday.
The paper also states that Wadia is due to film her final scenes in the coming weeks, but that her character will not be killed off. Zainab’s family members, Masood (Nitin Ganatra), Tamwar (Himesh Patel) and AJ (Paul Sharma), are reported to be remaining with the BBC1 soap.