So, Shabnam (Rakhee Thakrar (opens in new tab)) got a happy ending – of sorts – when she left Walford last night in the back of a black cab, with daughter Jade sitting next to her.
It was a bittersweet episode, as Shabnam’s husband, Kush (Davood Ghadami (opens in new tab)) was left behind. Shabs couldn’t stay in Albert Square after she discovered Kush is the father of Stacey’s baby, Arthur – and she didn’t expect Kush to leave his son.
Shabnam decides she can't stay – and Kush can't leave his son
But her daughter Jade (Amaya Edwards (opens in new tab)), who she had abandoned on a doorstep at birth, wasn’t impressed that Shabnam was leaving her again.
It was a shock – and tear-jerking surprise – though, when Shirley and Buster (Linda Henry and Karl Howman) told Shabnam they felt that their granddaughter Jade (fathered by Dean) really belonged with her mother… And Jade agreed.
Since her return to Walford two years ago, Shabs has become a firm favourite with EastEnders’ fans. So why has Rakhee quit?
"It feels like the right time for both myself and Shabnam," says Rakhee in the Mirror. "My experience on this show has been really special, and I'm so grateful for having the chance to have played Shabs, she's a real gift; a complicated character, who I've loved getting to know.
"Now, I feel like it’s the time to try different projects and new people to play. It was a hard decision as I really love this character and this show. I can't thank [the producers] enough for trusting me with Shabnam and particularly her story."
Rakhee admitted that while she is looking forward to seeing what the future brings, there are definitely a few faces she'll miss from EastEnders.
"I've met some of the most talented, hardworking, humble people both in front of and behind the cameras," she added. "I'll particularly miss Nitin [Ganatra (opens in new tab) – Masood], Himesh [Patel (opens in new tab) – Tamwar], Davood and Lacey [Turner (opens in new tab) – Stacey], I've learned so much from them. The brilliant scripts and directors, I could go on and on!"
While she may have decided to leave Walford for now, Rakhee went on to hint that this may not be the last EastEnders fans see of Shabnam.
The actress joked: "We'll she's only in Ealing, so you never know!"
EastEnders (opens in new tab) continues on BBC1, Monday, February 8, 8.00pm.
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