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Nitin Ganatra (Masood Ahmed, 'EastEnders')

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Soaps Interview: Nitin Ganatra

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EastEnders' Masood Ahmed - played by Nitin Ganatra - is forced to deal with the shock discovery that his son's been having an affair with another man next week when he walks in on Syed and Christian together in a passionate embrace. Unable to believe what he's seeing, Masood rushes out of the flat and heads home, where the reality of his - and his family's - situation begins to hit home. Masood rumbling the truth, however, is just the beginning - it's not long before everybody else learns Syed's secret. Digital Spy recently caught up with Nitin to chat about the moment Masood finds out and how the much-anticipated Chryed reveal comes about...

How does Masood find out about Christian and Syed?
"There's a birthday party for Syed and they're all having a good time. Syed receives a call or a text and we never get to see what it is, but he disappears to the flat to deal with something... Christian's obviously waiting there for him. Then Masood thinks, 'This is taking ages', so he goes to the flat, too. Low and behold, he sees Syed and Christian in a clinch…"

How is Masood feeling at that point?
"Masood's world falls apart. He doesn't react in the same way as Zainab, though - he just runs off. He wanders out of the flat, leaving Christian and Syed wondering who's seen them. In a state of shock, Masood goes back to the house and lies that the door to the flat was locked and so couldn't find Syed. When Syed returns, he starts to panic when he hears that Masood went looking for him."

How does Masood deal with the situation?
"Masood has no idea what to do with what he's seen and ends up looking for advice from the imam at the mosque. He's not particularly helpful, though, as he insists that the situation is on Masood's shoulders, while warning him not to let the news go public. Masood's given a choice - either the community will disown the family or the family will have to disown Syed."

What does he eventually do?
"After a week of thinking, he tells Zainab in the kindest way possible that their son is gay. Zainab pretends that she doesn't know, just to add more petrol to the fire… He's then trying to convince Zainab to confront the whole situation but she avoids it. It all then builds to this huge reveal at the party… All along, though, Masood's saying predatory things to Syed and Christian, teasing them about knowing. So in a very subtle way, he lets them both know that he's aware of what's going on and they'd better stop."

Do you think Masood has a dark side?
"It's a lovely thing to play. The New Year episodes with Nina, Johnny and Marc were so good and so explosive, I was thinking, 'How do you top that?' What I love about Masood, though, is that he's a very flexible person. You'll get a different response form him in almost every situation. He's not predicable. He has his lighter moments and then his darker moments. It gives a lot of colour to play with."

Were you pleased when you finally read the script where you discovered Syed's secret?
"I'm so relieved! I'll now stop getting texts and emails that start with, 'Hi Oblivious Dad'. I've spent five months looking away, just missing or just not hearing conversations and looks between Zainab, Christian and Syed. I've not been meant to notice any of it! It's really nice to be in the loop now."

Is Masood more concerned about how Syed's secret will make him and his family look or Syed's struggle?
"At first, it's not about what Syed's going through at all. It's about how it makes the family look. It's a very different dilemma to Zainab's. She's a reactive character, whereas Masood's pointing out that there's a bigger picture. Although Zainab appears to be the head of the household, they come from a patriarchal background. It's up to the father of the family to sort situations like this out - and in their culture, you're left with two choices: reject him or be rejected as a family. The whole community could turn on the Masoods."

Then Amira makes a shock announcement…
"Yeah! She's pregnant apparently! Now there's a turnaround…"

How does the big reveal come about?
"The one thing that's put Zainab and Masood on a happier note is that Amira's now pregnant. In their eyes, it'll solve all their problems. There are some lovely father-son scenes before everything comes out where Masood tries to convince Syed that his future is with Amira and the baby. It's all looking good after their chat - until the flat warming party. The party's actually split between the Masoods' and the new flat for space reasons, so while everyone's enjoying themselves at the Masoods', Amira's at the flat and finds out about Syed and Christian when she spots Lucy Beale's graffiti. Amira freaks out and runs back to the party crying her eyes out. Syed rushes back in, too - and then Christian turns up. In the middle of the party, Christian says, 'It's about time you told everyone'." Get the Inside Soap magazine on your iPhone or iPad

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