Zainab To Leave Walford: Nina Wadia Quits 'EastEnders' After Five Years

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Nina Wadia has announced that she is leaving EastEnders after five years.

The star has become a popular member of the show's cast since she joined, playing battleaxe Zainab Masood.

She said in a statement: "Playing Zainab has been a gift and a privilege.

"I'll always be hugely proud of the ­talented friends I've worked with and I'm so grateful for the special bond with our audience who watch, care and talk to us every day. We're a family of ­millions.

"Letting go of something you love is never easy but the time has come to move on and every ending brings a new beginning. Here's to future loves."

She first joined in 2007, before being joined by her husband (played by Nitin Ganatra) and two sons.

The show's boss Lorraine Newman said: "For the past five years Nina has brought to life the ­wonderful Zainab - the formidable, ­fun- loving, opinionated, fiercely competitive matriarch.

"Nina's range as an actor is quite exceptional, from her comedic double acts right through to her ability to pull on our heart strings with incredibly moving drama.

"We are very sad to be losing Nina and wish her well in ventures new. She will be missed by the production as much as the audience."

Despite initially being quite a comical character, Zainab has certainly seen more than her fair share of drama.

She was at the centre of one of the show's most talked-about storylines when her character reacted badly to son Syed's homosexuality.

She then suffered at the hands of her evil ex-husband, who drugged her before dying in a house fire.

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