All the rumours, hints and speculation pointed to it, and now it’s been confirmed – Iqra Ahmed’s girlfriend Ash Kaur (Gurlaine Kaur Garcha) is the secret sister of the Panesar brothers, EastEnders‘ newest clan and the first ever Punjabi Sikh family in the soap’s history.
The revelation came on Tuesday 29th October when siblings Kheerat (Jaz Deol), Jags (Amar Adatia) and Vinny (Shiv Jolata) appeared in Albert Square for the first time together (we’d previously only met Kheerat and Jags when Ben Mitchell forced Martin Fowler to steal their car).
It transpired they were looking for their missing sister, and when Vinny tracked her down a tragic backstory emerged – Ash cut ties with her family four years ago after falling out with her disapproving mother (presumably for being gay, although this wasn’t made explicit). But the boys brought game-changing news: their mum has cancer and could be dead in months…
Dr Ash has been on screen for a little while, and as her screen time increased some fans had joined the dots from her mentioning her Sikh heritage and Kheerat and Jags discussing a sister.
Now the truth is out there, and Garcha can finally talk about it… “I am thrilled to be part of the Panesars,” she says. “It was a proud moment getting the part, not only was I going into an iconic soap I was going in as a character in a Punjabi family representing something that is so true to me.
“Punjabi families are full of character, really loving and caring so I’m excited to be involved in portraying that to the nation.
“I do think there is a shortage for representation of Punjabi families on TV, so it’s amazing to be a member of the first one in Walford. To also be playing a bisexual Punjabi girl is something I wouldn’t have had any other way.”
Teasing the future for the new faces, the actress says: “Ash knows her family won’t approve of Iqra so tries to keep them apart to protect the relationship, but when her brothers get involved all her independence goes so she’s desperately trying to keep in control.
“Her and Iqra are set for a roller coaster ride, it will be interesting to see how it goes when she meets the family and I hope it’s a happy ending. But this is EastEnders! Viewers will be glued to their screen, and there is definitely going to be some doof-doofs ahead!”
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