EastEnders‘ Ahmed family welcomes two new lively additions on Tuesday 19 February when sassy sisters Iqra (Priya Davdra) and Habiba (Rukku Nahar) crash into Walford, much to the surprise of their uncle Masood (Nitin Ganatra).
The feisty girls claim they’re in town to manage Walford East restaurant once Mas goes away on his imminent travels, but his nieces’ shifty behaviour leaves him suspicious as to why the plucky pair have really showed up out of the blue. Clashing with the locals as they try to make a success of running the eatery, Iqra and Habiba make quite an impression during their first week in the Square – good and bad!
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So what’s in store for EastEnders’ newest faces? Over to the stars themselves for the lowdown on the Ahmed sisters…
Priya Davdra plays Iqra
How does it feel to be joining EastEnders?
Amazing! It’s a show I watched growing up and with my family, so it feels absolutely surreal.
Where were you when you found out you got the part?
I had actually just got back from the audition and was going about the rest of my day as usual. My agent called and there’s me expecting to be told about the role, but they actually just wanted to see how it went. Later, they called me again and told me the great news!
Do have a favourite character?
When I used to watch EastEnders back in the day, I loved Kat and Phil because they were such strong characters and had some epic storylines – I’ve actually had a few scenes with Jessie (Wallace, aka Kat), but not any with Steve (McFadden, who plays Phil) yet.
What can you tell us about Iqra?
She is Habiba’s older sister, and is intriguing character as she can be very confident and very sarcastic. She is passionate about what she thinks is right and always ready to defend herself. Even though Habiba does get into trouble, she loves her sister and always has her back. She’s a very powerful, strong woman, but there is vulnerability underneath.
How would you describe her in three words?
Strong, feisty and sarcastic.
What really brings the sisters to Walford?
They are there for a reason. At first they spin their uncle Masood a few stories so they can stay and look after the restaurant. I don’t want to reveal too much but they come in with a clear goal in mind and will do anything to get what they want.
Can they can be trusted to look after the restaurant?
Yes, they want it to do well. Iqra’s quite smart and they won’t make any drastic decisions. That said, neither of them have worked in a restaurant before! So there might be a few hiccups or challenges along the way…
Are they going to make any enemies?
I think it’s safe to say they are going to be making some enemies, yes! But they will make some really good friends as well.
What can audiences expect from the characters as they settle in?
Expect full-on drama, trouble and a lot of fun. They are both very strong women and know how to get what they want – it’s going to be an interesting journey!
Rukku Nahar plays Habiba
Are you excited to be joining the cast?
I’m really excited! I grew up watching the show so to now be in it is unreal. I can’t wait for to be on screen because it hasn’t hit me yet, I still won’t feel like I’m actually on the show until I’ve seen it.
Will you watch your first episode when it goes out?
Yes! My birthday is a week after our first one airs so I thought I’d do a joint birthday party and a little celebration.
How did you react when you found out you’d got the part?
I had been back for another audition and the day after I was on my way to the gym. My agent called and asked how I’d feel about being on the show and I was like, ‘Well, of course I hope I get it!’ and then he said they’d like to offer it to me! I was literally so happy I wanted to cry.
What was it like filming your first scene?
I had met Priya a few days before and my first scene was with her, we got on so well and I felt like I’d known her for ages so filming together was fun. I feel like there is a lot of energy between us, we bounce off each other. I love the way we come in, it’s full of energy and is a great introduction.
Have you got a favourite EastEnders character?
Mick Carter. I also love Tracey behind the bar, although I haven’t had a scene with her yet. I just want to go into the Vic and say: ‘Trace, can I have one on the house?’
Are you anything like Habiba?
Habiba is in some ways like myself, but a lot more heightened. She is me times ten! She is such a ball of energy, but can be naïve and also impulsive. Habiba is very mouthy too. I’d say she’s a bit of a troublemaker but not intentionally. I feel like she causes trouble without knowing she’s doing it…
What is in store for the sisters?
When they come in they do cause trouble, even though they’re not intending to. They will bring a lot of excitement and fun, but there is a serious side to them – even more so with Iqra. I think that’s what can cause Habiba to not be so serious in her attitude life, she wants to try and take the stress off her sister and enjoy herself.
Can they really make a success of running Walford East in Masood’s absence?
Well it will be funny to watch them try, but they’re winging it! It won’t take long before people notice their lack of experience.
What kind of reactions from Walford residents do the sisters get when they arrive?
Because Masood is their uncle they’ve got a warm welcome, and from the Carters initially because Tamwar is marrying Nancy, so there are people they know and are able to turn to. But at the same time, there are characters they will clash with and there could be some drama there…
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