Nina Wadia joins Holby City: 'I was so squeamish, I couldn't eat for a week!'

(Image credit: BBC)

Former EastEnders star Nina Wadia reveals her new character, surgeon Annabelle Cooper, who arrives on the BBC1 medical drama on Tuesday, has something to hide…

Your character Annabelle Cooper starts at Holby as a consultant neurosurgeon, but she has a tragic secret…

"Yes, she's very career minded, but there's a little bit of a twist in her personal life. She has a brain tumour and she decides to move to Holby because they're doing research into a new technique that may provide a cure. She had the all clear some time ago, but unfortunately her tumour has come back with a vengeance."

How does she get on with CEO Guy Self?

"When he finds out about her tumour he's furious because he assumes she joined Holby on purpose to have the experimental treatment. Annabelle's also not content to be Guy's right-hand woman. She's very strong, very good at what she does and doesn't want to be second in command. Plus, she takes his daughter Zosia under her wing and becomes a sort of mother figure to her!"

Does Annabelle end up having the new type of treatment?

"She's reluctant because she knows exactly what's going on in her own brain and can diagnose everything herself. She also knows there's very little chance of survival, which is particularly harrowing. Guy is also resistant to Annabelle having the treatment, so in the end it's up to Zosia to fight for her. But I can't tell you what happens…"

You admit to being squeamish. Did you find it hard to film certain scenes?

"Absolutely because the prosthetics are so real! There was one gory scene where I felt so squeamish that I couldn't eat a big meal for a week! The other difficult thing was the medical terms used – it was like learning another language. I kept having to look things up!"

Your EastEnders character Zainab Masood was very popular. Would you ever consider returning to the show?

"Never say never! It's such an iconic show and Zainab was a great character. The reason I stayed with EastEnders as long as I did was also because I loved working with that group of actors and I'm still in touch with Nitin Ganatra (Masood), Himesh Patel (Tamwar) and Marc Elliott (Syed). But with soaps you never know if you'll be asked back or not!"

Holby City continues on Tuesdays at 8pm on BBC1.


Victoria Wilson
Feature Writer for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and

With over 20 years’ experience writing about TV and film, Vicky currently writes features for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week magazines plus news and watching guides for, a job which involves chatting to a whole host of famous faces. Our Vicky LOVES light entertainment, with Strictly Come Dancing, Britain’s Got Talent and The Voice UK among her fave shows. Basically, if it’s got a shiny floor, she’s all over it! When she’s not watching TV, you might find Vicky in therapy… retail therapy that is!