Emmerdale has addressed the absence of Aiesha Richards on screen after the actress who played her, Shila Iqbal, was sacked from the ITV soap for historic social media posts containing racist and homophobic language.
The character was hastily written out after Iqbal was fired in April 2019 when the messages were brought to the attention of show bosses.
On Thursday 16th May, Iqbal’s alter ego Aiesha was name checked when screen mum Manpreet Sharma (Rebecca Sarker) and stepdad Rishi Sharma (Bhasker Patel) explained her sudden departure from the village, commenting how she had abruptly “taken off” when she was meant to be organising little Amba Metcalfe’s party as her “promoter friend needed her in Ibiza.”
Iqbal’s last appearance as Manpreet’s bubbly daughter was aired last month. The star had recently been promoted to cast regular having made her first appearance in July 2018.
She was immediately dismissed for the posts, written in 2013, when the actress, now 24, was 19 and studying at college in her home town of Rochdale. She subsequently deleted her Twitter account.
How did Shila Iqbal react to being sacked from Emmerdale?
Via a statement from her representatives the actress apologised, saying: “I am terribly sorry and take full responsibility for my use of such inappropriate language. I have paid the price and can no longer continue the job I loved the most at Emmerdale. Although I was young when I made the tweets, it was still completely wrong of me to do so and I sincerely apologise.”
Emmerdale commented at the time, saying: “As a consequence of historic social media posts, Shila Iqbal has left her role as Aiesha Richards. The programme took the decision not to renew her contract as soon as these posts were brought to the company’s attention.”
Shila Iqbal expresses her remorse after losing her dream job in Emmerdale when offensive tweets she wrote as a teenager came to light pic.twitter.com/0F9kKxgGde
Iqbal has since discussed the decision in an interview on This Morning, saying that, while respecting ITV’s move to terminate her contract, “I do question, is it fair that I’m being judged on something I did as a teenager and if we do look at the context and the intentions, there was no negative intention behind there – I wasn’t hurling abuse at anyone.
“I made a mistake, definitely, but that’s not who I am,” she told hosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby.
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