The BBC has released the first images of the newly recast Shabnam Masood, who is set to join her father Masood (Nitin Ganatra) and younger brother Tamwar (Himesh Patel) in Albert Square during January 2014.
Actress Rakhee Thakrar (whose previous screen credits include Bollywood Carmen Live and Page Eight) will take over from Zahra Ahmadi, who was last seen in Walford in 2008.
On the topic of her casting, Thakrar said: “Having grown up watching EastEnders with my family, I’m really excited to be joining the show. I can’t wait to become part of the Masood family and start working with Nitin and Himesh, as well as the rest of the amazing EastEnders cast and crew.”
Executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins added: “Masood and Tamwar have been missing a female presence in their lives and Shabnam’s return to Albert Square in January is well overdue – and, by that time, vital. We’ve been exhaustive in our recasting of Shabnam and when Rakhee walked in the room, everyone – including Nitin – knew that she was perfect.
“The Shabnam who returns home is older, wiser and a chip off her mother’s block. And – of course – carrying a terrible secret from her time away from Walford.”
Viewers can see Shabnam reappear in the episode airing on Monday 13 January – her comeback scenes finding her disapproving of dad Masood’s relationship with Carol Jackson (Lindsey Coulson).