Nina Wadia, 52, has revealed that EastEnders bosses were disappointed when she informed them of her decision to quit the soap in 2013. The Death in Paradise guest star, who was cast as Zainab Masood in 2007, admitted that although she wasn’t unhappy on the BBC show, she missed the creativity of embarking on new acting roles.
Nina explained in an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk: “It was a huge decision because it’s not like I was unhappy there, I had a great time doing that show and it’s an iconic show to be a part of.
“They didn’t want me to leave, they loved the character and everything was going well.
“I had just got to a point as an actor where I’m just not one of those actors. I’m an actor who needs to be challenged and pushed a bit more.
“I missed the creativity of coming up with a new character, so it was a tough decision.”
The mum-of-two, who has two children; Tia Nina and Aidan, went on to reveal that there was also a personal aspect behind her choice to quit the soap, due to its demanding schedule getting in the way of her family life.
She continued: “In all honesty, I was missing my kids growing up a bit too because they were very little at the time and EastEnders is a lot of work.
“It’s not like you just go to set, do your work, and then you come home, when you’re home you’re learning lines for the next day.”
Nina went on to admit her husband Raiomond Mirza wasn’t too keen on her character and how the role affected her personality at home.
She divulged: “It’s all-consuming, so I kind of needed a break from it all and also I was turning into my character, to which my husband amazingly said, ‘I don’t like the woman so can I have my wife back?’”
Nina added: “That can happen, when you play a character for a very long time you sort of start to melt into the character a bit, so you need to get out.
“And she wasn’t a particularly pleasant woman, she’s a complicated, angry woman and I was turning into an angry woman and that’s not me, I’m a positive person, so that was not fun!”
Nina’s character Zainab was last seen on-screen in 2013 after reconciling with Masood (Nitin Ganatra), before he admitted he wasn’t happy with their relationship and called off their wedding.
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Despite her decision to leave the show, Nina divulged that she wouldn’t rule out making a comeback to Albert Square.
She said: “They’ve left the door open for me and I’ve left the door open for them, if they want her [Zainab] back, absolutely!
“But I just have to be free to do it because, touch wood, I’ve been very blessed that I had a comedy career going into the show, so that’s looked after me coming out because that was terrifying.
“I didn’t work for almost a year after I came out initially, as people told me I wouldn’t, because all the casting directors were saying, ‘Nah, she’s Zainab Masood’.”
In spite of her initial worries about finding work after EastEnders, Nina discovered that the show “did a lot” for her career.
She continued: “But luckily, no, in fact if nothing else, it actually lifted my profile which is great, a lot of things came out of it.
“I came out with lifelong friends, I came out with the ability to learn lines in about an hour, it does a lot for you that show.
“It’s a great show to be part of, so as and when they need or want Zainab back, of course I’d go in. I had great fun doing EastEnders!”