There was shock all around when EastEnders star Shona McGarty confirmed that she will be leaving her role as Whitney Dean, with her final scenes due to air early next year.


To say that Whitney has endured one of the toughest tenures in soap is a whopper of an understatement, and while we're sad that she'll be waving goodbye to Walford, we have one big request for those planning her exit story: make it a happy one, please!

When Whitney first graced our screens back in 2008, she was the gobby, chip-off-the-old-block stepdaughter of EastEnders icon Bianca Jackson (Patsy Palmer).

Sadly, the teen was launched almost immediately into dark territory, when we learned that she was being abused by sexual predator Tony King (Chris Coghill), boyfriend of the oblivious Bianca.

McGarty's performances were haunting, and time and time again, the actress has blown viewers away with her portrayal, as Whitney went from one devastating ordeal to the next.

Shona McGarty as Whitney Dean in EastEnders in 2008, wearing a teal cap
Shona McGarty as Whitney Dean in EastEnders in 2008. BBC

Over the course of 15 years, she was groomed, cheated on, suffered a miscarriage, stalked and arrested for murder.

She lost the potential love of her life in Kush Kazemi (Davood Ghadami) and then had a relationship with serial killer Gray Atkins (Toby-Alexander Smith) before helping to bring him to justice.

Whit's subsequent few months of calmness were broken when, earlier this year, she found out her unborn baby was diagnosed with Edwards syndrome, and she and her now-partner Zack Hudson (James Farrar) decided to terminate the pregnancy.

Whitney was forced to give birth to her lost baby. As with every other tragic moment in her alter ego's life, McGarty delivered a moving portrayal as she took on the role of a mother consumed by grief.

Everything Whitney has experienced has its place in EastEnders - raising vital awareness for a range of distressing subjects. But it's been said before, and we'll say it again: she's been through enough, and her impending departure is the time to give her some joy.

James Farrar as Zack Hudson and Shona McGarty as Whitney Dean in EastEnders, crying together
James Farrar as Zack Hudson and Shona McGarty as Whitney Dean in EastEnders. BBC

We really don't want a repeat of Ronnie Mitchell's (Samantha Womack) story. After decades of painful trauma, Ronnie met an untimely demise alongside sister Roxy (Rita Simons) that fans have never recovered from.

As if Ronnie's endless list of tragedies wasn't enough, she wasn't even allowed to bow out with a happy ever after - but it's not too late to ensure that Whitney's fortunes are turned around.

We still don't know whether the door will be left open for her, but after Lola Pearce-Brown's heartbreaking demise, we can't take another death story right now, and this would be the cruellest path for Whitney to take after all she's been through.

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There are so many other options for her, and as nice as it is to hear when she's gone away to visit Bianca, having Whitney move to Milton Keynes for good would also be the wrong note to end her story on.

She must be allowed to embrace some contentment of her own.

Unlucky in love, Whitney is seemingly destined to put another relationship behind her when she leaves Zack behind. But might they part ways early on, with time for someone else to catch her eye - paving the way for her to carve out a brand new future with a mystery man?

That might just be too cliché for our Whit, who has constantly been surrounded by men who altered the course of her life - with shattering consequences. Does she really need a man to cement her happiness? Of course, she doesn't.

She's spent years selling clothes on the Walford market, but Whitney is a gifted designer and could find herself 'discovered', with her talent earning her a top job and seeing her jet off abroad for the opportunity of a lifetime.

At this point, after so much misery, we'd accept a plot twist as random as this to break the cycle for Whit, even if we don't get to see it play out.

She's always wanted to have children but is currently still recovering from her loss. The powers that be might decide to grant Whitney her wish before she exits, whether via pregnancy or other means.

Shona McGarty as Whitney Dean in EastEnders.
Shona McGarty as Whitney Dean in EastEnders. BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron

Ultimately, it doesn't matter how EastEnders does so: We simply want to see Whit heading into the sunset, at peace with life and herself. For this tragic heroine, nothing less will do!

If in need of support, visit the website for Rape Crisis and also contact by calling Rape Crisis's 23/7 support line on 0808 500 2222.

You can read more about Edwards' syndrome on the NHS website, or visit SOFT UK and Antenatal Results and Choices for help and support.

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EastEnders airs Mondays to Thursdays at 7:30pm on BBC One and from 6am on BBC iPlayer. Visit our dedicated EastEnders page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers. If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide and Streaming Guide.


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