BBC EastEnders Shabnam star now – quitting soap, Netflix fame and clothes shop job

Rakhee Thakrar played EastEnders character Shabnam Masood for two years and has worked in a clothes show since leaving Walford and appeared in Netflix's Sex Education

EastEnders star Rakhee Thakrar played Shabnam Masood for two years.

The actress took over the role from Zahra Ahmadi, who portrayed the daughter of Masood Ahmed and Zainab Masood from 2007 until 2008. She made her debut as Shabnam in 2014 and her last scenes aired on 2016.

Shabnam left Albert Square with her daughter Jade Green leaving Kush Kazemi (Davood Ghadami) behind after she made the decision for him to stay with his son Arthur, who he fathered with Stacey Slater (Lacey Turner). It came after Shabnam delivered a stillborn son named Zaair.

Rakhee Thakrar as Shabnam in EastEnders
EastEnders star Rakhee Thakrar played Shabnam Masood for two years (Image: BBC/Jack Barnes)
Speaking in 2016, Rakhee revealed the reasons for her departure. It feels like the right time for both myself and Shabnam,” she told the Daily Record.. “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.
Rakhee Thakrar
Rakhee plays Emily Sands in Netflix’s hit show Sex Education (Image: Netflix)

“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.” After leaving the soap, Rakhee ended up working in a clothes shop for years to make ends meet. The TV star revealed that she struggled to land new work opportunities and decided to take on retail jobs temporarily.

Rakhee Thakrar
The TV star revealed that she struggled to land new work opportunities and decided to take on retail jobs temporarily (Image: REX/Shutterstock)

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Rakhee previously told Radio Times: “I didn’t think ‘other projects’ meant working in a boutique clothing shop for two years. “I left EastEnders and didn’t get any work. I couldn’t bear not doing anything, so I worked in a couple of shops.” It was a massive risk to leave a full-time salary [on EastEnders] and it took a while for that risk to pay off.”

Rakhee has since landed roles in Netflix’s hit show Sex Education as Emily Sands and BBC One’s drama The Girl Before. She also voiced the Eighth Doctor’s companion Bliss in Big Finish’s Doctor Who: The Time War audio dramas.

EastEnders airs Monday to Thursday on BBC One and BBC iPlayer on 7.30pm

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