EastEnders star Shona McGarty explains decision to quit Whitney Dean role

"It's going to be the end of an era."

EastEnders spoilers follow.

EastEnders star Shona McGarty has explained her decision to quit her role as Whitney Dean, ahead of her departure from the soap next year.

Whitney will wave goodbye to the Square after 15 years, following a Christmas storyline that sees the fan-favourite character navigating life with partner Zack Hudson. The pair recently decided to begin fostering, following the tragic loss of daughter Peach.

Speaking to Inside Soap, McGarty shared how she’s feeling ahead of her final scenes — confirming that she is ready to say goodbye to her character.

“It’s going to be the end of an era, or an earring, as the EastEnders saying goes. I’ve loved my time in Walford, but with the character of Whitney, bless her, she’s had some awful things happen to her, and I think she needs a break,” she said.

The actress also reflected on the possibility of Whitney returning to the Square in the future, but expressed that her current priorities are to pursue other ventures.

“The door’s open and I could always come back in the future. But at the moment, I want to pursue things that are in my heart, like singing — stuff that I’ve been doing since childhood and dreaming about. EastEnders has been amazing; I just want to do other things,” she said.

ashton, zack hudson, whitney dean, eastenders

Before her final scenes air in the new year, McGarty revealed she’s looking forward to tuning in to the murderous antics on Christmas Day. “I have watched EastEnders since I can remember; I think when Stacey first arrived on the Square is when I really took notice of the show,” she explained.

“But Christmas Day on EastEnders was always, personally I think, the best time to watch it. Hand on heart I have no idea what happens in this episode, so I’m really intrigued to watch it!”

The star is currently performing in a pantomime production of Beauty and the Beast at the Orchard Theatre in Dartford — where she’ll be playing Belle until December 31.

EastEnders airs on Mondays – Thursdays at 7.30pm on BBC One. The show also streams on BBC iPlayer, where most episodes drop early at 6am ahead of their TV broadcast.

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