Nina Wadia: EastEnders star claims her long-term memory suffered after joining BBC soap

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Actress Nina Wadia has opened up about her time playing Zainab Masood in BBC’s EastEnders. The actress had played the iconic character for six years, taking on some of the biggest storylines before announcing she was leaving Walford in 2013.

Short-term memory – really good, but my long-term memory suffered.

Nina Wadia OBE

Now, Nina, who was awarded an OBE in 2021 for her services to entertainment and charity, has reflected on her period in the soap, admitting that not all is as it seems.

Actors on soaps are required to learn hundreds of lines per episode in order to ensure that all episodes run as smoothly as possible while filming.

During her stint on EastEnders, Nina, 52, appeared in more than 1100 episodes, airing four nights per week.

This, however, is something that has had a lasting effect on her memory outside of work, she claims.

Nina, who has made it through to the final of Channel 4’s Can I Improve My Memory?, reflected on her time on the Square, admitting that the programme did have a negative impact on her ability to remember things.

“Having been on ‘EastEnders’, my memory changed and adapted,” she said.

Nina went on to add during the programme “Short-term memory – really good, but my long-term memory suffered.

“It was not only the volume but the speed at which you have to learn lines.”

Nina however, revealed her castmate, Adam Woodyatt, who plays Ian Beale, offered her some invaluable advice during her stint.

She explained: “Adam said, ‘Don’t learn the lines, remember them’.

“Your brain needs to forget everything, move on and remember like a shopping list.”

While Nina may have left the television’s biggest soap in order to focus on her family and take on other roles, she has hinted that a return may be on the cards for her.

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Speaking to Inside Soap, Nina said: “I know I’ll step back into the Square in the future,

“I’ve been asked back a couple of times but the timing wasn’t right. It has to be a joint decision between EastEnders and me.”

Nina had been asked to return to Walford in 2016, but had to decline the opportunity due to prior commitments.

“I was doing a pilot out in the States and I said I couldn’t do it, I’m still waiting to hear on that [pilot show],” she explained.

While there are no current plans for her character to return, she has suggested that she would love to see her on-screen on-off husband, Masood (played by Nitin Ganatra) return alongside her.

“I was really upset when they split up Masood and Zainab — it was true love, they have to get them back together one day,” she exclaimed.

Nina’s exit storyline from EastEnders saw her second marriage to Masood break down, and she left alongside their youngest son, Kamil Masood (Arian Chikhlia).

EastEnders continues tomorrow night at 9.05pm on BBC One.

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