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EastEnders casts different actress as Shabnam Masood

EastEnders character Shabnam Masood is set to return to the soap and will bring with her a terrible secret.

Shabnam, originally played by Zahra Ahmadi, has been recast with Rakhee Thakrar now in the role, according to The Sun On Sunday.

The character has been off screen for five years since Zahra quit after 14 months in the BBC soap, but will now return to Albert Square to be reunited with her father Masood (Nitin Ganatra) and brother Tamwar (Himesh Patel).

Rakhee said: "Having grown up watching EastEnders with my family, I'm really excited to now be joining the show. I can't wait to become part of the Masood family and start working with the rest of the amazing EastEnders cast and crew."

Executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins told EastEnders' official website: "Masood and Tamwar have been missing a female presence in their lives and Shabnam's return to Albert Square in January is well overdue - and, by that time, vital...

"We've been exhaustive in our recasting of Shabnam and when Rakhee walked in the room, everyone - including Nitin - knew that she was perfect.

"The Shabnam who returns home is older, wiser and a chip off her mother's block. And - of course - carrying a terrible secret from her time away from Walford."