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Himesh Patel (Tamwar Masood, 'EastEnders')

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Tamwar Masood from EastEnders

© BBC

As EastEnders' Masood family find themselves facing more trouble in the coming weeks, it's unlikely suspect Tamwar who's at the centre of the drama in a surprise storyline twist. After growing tired of the single life, things seem to be looking up for Tamwar when his old flame Afia gets in touch and they rekindle their relationship during a string of dates. However, when Tamwar introduces his parents to Afia and her father for the first time, he's stunned when Zainab and Masood recognise his girlfriend's dad as a face from their past. Furious, Masood kicks both of their visitors out of the house and it's not long until Tamwar has been banned from seeing his love interest. DS recently chatted to Himesh Patel, who plays Tamwar, to hear more about the plotline.

What was your reaction when you heard that the producers were bringing back Meryl Fernandes and her role as Afia?
"I was very happy! We filmed together for about three or four weeks when she first came into the show, which was about this time last year. We got on really, really well because she's such a lovely person and a great actress, so I was always asking people if she was going to come back. Then she dropped me a text to say that they'd got in touch with her and were bringing her back, which was fantastic."

It seems to have happened at the right time for Tamwar because he's been feeling a bit lonely - what would you say has brought that on?
"I'd say it was the closing chapter of the Syed and Christian story, where Syed was finally happy and in love. Because of that, Tamwar was left at home with his parents and then Darren went and got a girlfriend, so Tamwar was completely left out in the cold. I think he just started feeling lonely because of that."

Afia visits Tamwar at the stall to try and clear things up, claiming she honestly did not know.
Can you remind us of Tamwar and Afia's story so far?
"They were together briefly, but Tamwar made a wrong move and she dumped him. He'd lied about being at Oxford - it was just an impulse and he felt like he needed to do that to maintain her affection for him. But that wasn't the case and she ended it right there!"

Does Tamwar feel grateful to get this second chance with her?
"He does - it's great and immediately when you see the scenes where they meet up and they're together, there's already a split-second change in Tamwar and his attitude. He's almost at home - he's got what he wants for the first time in a while, so it's quite lovely for him, really."

Doesn't their past history make things awkward at first?
"It's sort of awkward - Tamwar's initially very terrified of her because of what happened and because he thinks that she's just going to destroy him, because she left him on a very angry note. In Tamwar's head, no time has elapsed between what happened and now, and he thinks that she's still angry at him for doing that, but she's calmed down and she's almost looked at it in a funny sort of light. There's a lot to think about, but they get over that very quickly and I think she even says at one point that she'd almost forgotten about it."

The romance continues back at Tam's.
Tamwar gets a bit of a makeover before his meeting with Afia, doesn't he?
"Yeah, you don't see the makeover happen on screen but you come back in and see that Tamwar has changed. It's mainly Jodie's work but Darren is there too. She gets him a new jacket and gives his hair a bit of a makeover. But it doesn't really work for him. He thinks that he's done the right thing, but in all honesty, it's not his character - because Tamwar's costume is part of his character and part of who he is. So when he tries to change that, it just doesn't work. He decides not to wear his glasses, but he doesn't have his contact lenses in, so he's just squinting all the time, which doesn't look right!"

Also, Afia doesn't like the makeover and preferred him the way he was - is that a confidence boost for Tamwar?
"Yeah, it is, definitely - it's very much a confidence boost. It's not like everyone is always telling him that his appearance is wrong, but they don't tell him that it's right either. I think it is a confidence boost that he's met someone who likes him for who he is and doesn't want him to change. That's quite sweet."

Tam's parents unexpectedly come home early and the mood changes as Tam scrambles to think of an excuse.
What can you tell us about the twist that's coming up regarding the identity of Afia's father?
"It's quite a shocker! In fact, it was a shocker when I read the scripts, as I had no idea that it was coming. It's a clever little twist, really. It's just something that Tamwar couldn't possibly have prepared himself for - he wouldn't have thought about it at all, and there's just no way that he could have asked any questions to find out it was the case. It's not until the last minute that anyone realises, so it's quite a twist!"

Would you say this storyline is new territory for Tamwar, as normally he's keeping his head down rather than being at the centre of a family drama?
"It is new territory for Tamwar, because he's never been part of the problem. Initially, the first problem that the Masoods encountered as a family was the financial issues that they were having and the loan shark that Zainab went to. Then it was Shabnam being a bit rebellious and that was a problem, and then obviously it was Syed's issue. So Tamwar's always been either stuck in the middle of it all, or outside looking in. Now he's almost feeling a sense of guilt for having brought this problem to the family. It's a tough decision to make on whether to continue the relationship or not…"

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