Nina Wadia: ‘I stopped watching EastEnders a year before I left’

After playing domineering Zainab Masood in EastEnders for six years, Nina Wadia plays another woman you wouldn’t want to cross – Aunty Noor in BBC1 sitcom, Citizen Khan

Who do you play in Citizen Khan?
“I play Mrs Khan’s sister, Aunty Noor, who is the sister-in-law from hell. She makes life as uncomfortable as she can for Mr Khan. Noor is a gold-digger and the complete opposite of her sister, who’s a good woman.”

Did you enjoy being mean to Mr Khan?
“It was great fun playing someone who winds up Mr Khan until he nearly explodes. In that way, Mr Khan is like Zainab in EastEnders. You want to wind them up to see how they react.”

Does Noor wonder why her sister married Mr Khan?
“Constantly. He doesn’t have any money for a start. And her attitude is, why would anyone want to marry someone who doesn’t have any money?”

Do you still watch EastEnders to see what the rest of the Masoods are getting up to?
“No, I stopped watching it about a year before I left. I couldn’t keep up with watching it. Plus it was a chapter that had closed for me as I wanted to concentrate on comedy for a while. But I keep meeting people in the street who say, ‘They’re talking about you in EastEnders!’”

Do you prefer doing comedy to drama?
“I am one of those constantly dissatisfied people. When I am doing comedy, I want to do drama and when I am doing drama I want to do comedy!”

Earlier this year, you and the rest of the Goodness Gracious Me team reunited for a one-off special on BBC2. How was that?
“It was great fun. We got back together after 14 years apart and it felt like six weeks!”

Are there plans to do any more Goodness Gracious Me episodes?
“Yes, there are. We are currently in talks to see if everyone is free at the beginning of next year.”

What’s next for you?
“I am doing another Still Open All Hours which will either go out at Christmas or early next year. There are a few other things in the pipeline but I can’t talk about them quite yet.”

Would you like to play Aunty Noor again?
“Oh, yes. She is such a wicked character. As long as I get to wear her lovely clothes again!”

Citizen Khan is on Friday at 8.30pm on BBC1

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