Shona McGarty, who plays Whitney Dean on EastEnders, said she would be leaving the soap after 16 years.


And in a new interview with The Sun, the actress has opened up on why she wanted to take on new opportunities after turning 30.

McGarty told producers in Summer '23 and although is emotional about leaving, is confident about her exciting future plans.

"It was a really difficult decision, because it’s all I’ve ever known. I pretty much grew up on the Square, so I feel like I’m leaving home. But I had to put on my big girl pants and be quite brave, because life is so short, and you feel that more and more as you get older.

“There are other opportunities and areas of the industry I want to explore before I get too old! All things come to an end and this is the new chapter of my life," McGarty said.

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“I mean, 16 years is amazing. I’ve had a really good run and Whitney needs a break. She’s had a pretty tough paper round!"

As for how she'll depart? Well, that's a closely guarded secret.

Shona McGarty as Whitney holding an umbrella in EastEnders
BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron

“It’s always up to the writers and the producer – it’s their show at the end of the day,” McGarty explained.

“But the one thing I did request was for Whitney to remind the audience of where she’s come from and how feisty she was when she first arrived.

"And they’ve done it perfectly. They’ve made her feisty again, and I’m so happy with the way everything ties up.”

At the moment on screen, Whitney is pregnant with Zack's (James Farrar) baby, and is currently hiding a very big secret from him about the conditions on which troubled teen Britney is living with them under.

No doubt when the truth comes out about how Whit paid Britney's mum to take her off her hands, Zack won't be happy.

EastEnders airs Monday to Thursday on BBC One and BBC iPlayer. Visit our dedicated EastEnders page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers.


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