After Shabnam’s shock departure, Rakhee Thakrar reveals why she quit EastEnders

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 19/01/2016 - Programme Name: Eastenders - TX: 28/01/2016 - Episode: 5219 (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: ***FORTNIGHTLIES PLEASE DO NOT USE (SOAP LIFE and ALL ABOUT SOAP) Shabnam is horrified when Martin asks Kush to look after baby Arthur. Shabnam Masood (RAKHEE THAKRAR), Kush Kazemi (DAVOOD GHADAMI) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Jack Barnes (Image credit: BBC/Jack Barnes)

So, Shabnam (Rakhee Thakrar) 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) 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), 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 – Masood], Himesh [Patel – Tamwar], Davood and Lacey [Turner – 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 continues on BBC1, Monday, February 8, 8.00pm.