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Strictly’s Nina Wadia asked for Zainab to die when deciding to leave EastEnders

EastEnders favourite Nina Wadia, who has joined the Strictly Come Dancing cast, is open to returning to the soap despite pleading with bosses to have a grisly end

Strictly Come Dancing: Celebrity revealed as Eastenders’ Nina Wadia

Nina Wadia first set foot in Albert Square in 2007 – and wanted to go out in a grisly manner six years later.

Fiery Zainab Masood was the first member of the family to appear and was shortly followed by her husband Masood Ahmed and their two kids.

Nina Wadia and on-screen husband Nitin Gantra had actually already played a married couple in the play ‘D’Yer Eat With Your Fingers?’ and won awards for their on-screen partnership.

The popular actress was already well-known for starring in BBC sketch show Goodness Gracious Me and appearing as a Loose Women panellist.

As well as appearing in Doctors, The Vicar of Dibley and Skins, Nina had already had a minor role in EastEnders in 1994 as a nurse.

The Masoods were introduced by then executive producer Diederick Santer to ‘diversify’ the soap and make it ‘feel more 21st century’.

Nina Wadia played the fearsome Zainab Masood



Nina Wadia has been learning dance since she was a child


BBC/Ray Burmiston)

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They were the first Muslim family to live in Albert Square since the Karims in the late 80s and the first Asian clan since the unpopular Ferreiras in 2003, who were axed after two years for being “unrealistic”.

Revealing even she was not a fan of Zainab, Nina said: “I constantly say on set, ‘I annoy myself’ when I play Zainab. She’s really irritating — the kind of woman that I’d never want to meet.”

First seen running the post office in 2007, Zainab was described as ‘Walford’s answer to Lord Sugar’ and endured a lot over her five-and-a-half years on the Square.

She gave birth to a baby in her mid-40s, divorced Masood, remarried her abusive first husband Yusef, got back with Masood then flew off to live in Pakistan.

Zainab was one of those characters we love to hate, but sadly her time in Walford came to an end in 2013 when Nina called it quits.

The Masood family were iconic



Announcing her decision to leave, Nina explained: “Playing Zainab has been a gift and a privilege.

“I’ll always be hugely proud of the talented friends I’ve worked with and I’m so grateful for the special bond with our audience who watch, care and talk to us every day – we’re a family of millions.

“Letting go of something you love is never easy but the time has come to move on and every ending brings a new beginning. Here’s to future loves.”

Nina, who appeared in Bend It Like Beckham, also starred in Keith Lemon: The Film and in the 2019 live action remake of Aladdin.

But it seems part of her heart is still in Albert Square and she would definitely be up for going back to EastEnders one day,

Strictly Come Dancing’s class of 2021 hit the dancefloor on Saturday



She told the Daily Star : “I miss EastEnders a lot, but after doing it for five and a half years it was time for me to go back to comedy and have a bit of a change.

“But if they asked me I would love to go back. I asked to be killed off, because I wanted a big story end. But they didn’t want to kill the character, which was much loved by the audience. They didn’t want me to go.

“I love that show and it did a lot to my career. I will always be thankful to EastEnders and if they asked me to, I would absolutely go back for a bit.”

Nina received an OBE in the 2021 New Year’s Honours List for her services to charity and entertainment.

Now she will be swapping the Queen Vic for the ballroom when she takes part in this year’s series of Strictly Come Dancing.

The excited but nervous actress joked the only way she would stand a chance of winning the competition is if the judges were blindfolded.

Admitting she was “scared” when the announcement was made on Lorraine, Nina said: “I like dancing like no one’s watching, so we just need to blindfold the judges and I’m going to win!

“I think I should do this before I’m too old and can’t walk anymore. I just want to grab life by the horns and just enjoy it.”

After a tough year for the nation, Nina revealed she just hoped she could make people laugh and revealed her concerns about being dolled up for her performances.

She added: “I always been a little bit of a tomboy so this is going to be a little bit of a struggle with me, the sequins and tanning – which makes me laugh because I’m Indian!”

*Strictly Come Dancing stars tonight on BBC One at 7.45pm

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