Why did Rakhee Thakrar leave EastEnders as Shabnam Masood?

Rules of the Game: BBC teases brand new drama series

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Rules of the Game has just started airing on BBC One and the drama shines a light on toxic workplace environments. Rakhee Thakrar plays Maya Benshaw, who has been hired as the new head of HR at an esteemed business. The actress used to play Shabnam Masood in EastEnders, but why did she leave?

Why did Rakhee Thakrar leave EastEnders as Shabnam Masood?

The 37-year-old star featured in 167 episodes of the soap, between 2014 and 2016. 

She was last seen on screen in the soap following Shabnam’s failed marriage to Kush Kazemi (Davood Ghadami). 

As for why she left, the actress said at the time of her departure: “Every now and again a job and a group of people change your life.

“I can definitely say that about EastEnders. I’m so grateful for having the chance to play Shabnam Masood and particularly her story. 

“I’m very thankful for my time on the show, it’s been brilliant.”

She explained she was keen to explore new roles, and went on to star in Netflix’s Sex Education. 

The star added regarding her EastEnders exit: “It feels like the right time for both myself and Shabnam to move on.

“My experience on this show has been really special, and I’m so grateful for having the chance to have played Shabs, she’s a real gift.

“A complicated character, who I’ve loved getting to know. Now, I feel like it’s the time to try different projects and new people to play.

“It was a hard decision as I really love this character and this show.”

With this in mind, it seems it was her own decision to walk away from Albert Square and move on to pastures new. 

Her character went through plenty of trauma during her time on the soap and she was known for being part of a devastating stillbirth storyline.

The actress was nominated for the best dramatic performance category at the National Television Awards for the storyline in which she and Kush suffered a stillbirth.

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Fans have taken to Twitter to share their thoughts on the actress as she makes her debut in Rules of the Game on BBC One. 

Corey Terrett said: “Rakhee Thakrar would be such a good Doctor Who. #rulesofthegame”

Malcolm Struthers shared: “Good to see Rakhee Thakrar getting more leading roles.”

The actress has starred in plenty of other hit series since leaving EastEnders, most recently the BBC’s psychological thriller The Girl Before. 

In 2019, she took on the role of Fatima in the romantic comedy Four Weddings and a Funeral. 

The actress is still keeping busy as she is currently filming for an upcoming musical fantasy film, Wonka, which acts as a prequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. 

However, she previously revealed that she struggled to find work after leaving Walford in her EastEnders role.

She told the Radio Times she worked in a shop for several years, saying: “I didn’t think ‘other projects’ meant working in a boutique clothing shop for two years.

“I left EastEnders and didn’t get any work. I couldn’t bear not doing anything, so I worked in a couple of shops.”

Rules of the Game airs on BBC One on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 9pm. 

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