EastEnders' Whitney Dean comp image on the show background with logo

Huge EastEnders star Shona McGarty quits soap after 15 years as Whitney Dean

This is a huge loss

EastEnders is losing one of its biggest stars as they quit the soap after 15 years. The BBC soap will say goodbye to actress Shona McGarty early next year, it has been revealed.

The actress has played Whitney Dean since she was just 16 years old. She has been involved in some of the soap’s biggest storylines.

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A post shared by Shona McGarty (@shonabmx)

Shortly after arriving it was revealed Whitney was being abused by Bianca Jackson’s partner, she has been stalked, killed her stalker, abused, and lost two pregnancies.

Currently Whitney is in a relationship with Zack Hudson after the couple lost their unborn baby Peach earlier this year. It is believed bosses are still working on her exit storyline.

Speaking to The Sun, Shona said: “I have decided to spread my wings and will be leaving EastEnders. I have loved my years in the show.

Shona McGarty - Let It Be (Official Video) ft. The Celebs

EastEnders: Shona McGarty to leave next year

“I have been trusted with some incredible storylines and have made amazing friendships — and family — which will endure.”

An insider added that Shona is “gutted” to be leaving the soap. They added: “It wasn’t an easy decision for Shona to make and she is gutted to be walking away from her soap family, especially as she has grown up on set with most of them. She’ll be sorely missed by the cast.

“But she feels like now is the right time in her life to step away and try something new. She is hoping the door will be left open for her character to return one day, but nothing is guaranteed and it is all in the hands of the scriptwriters.

“They could decide that another soap death would create an explosive exit storyline and get people talking, but that’s always a risk actors have to take when deciding to leave.”

The insider added how Shona is looking forward to taking on new projects. She has played Whitney since she was 16 but can now try new roles.

Read more: EastEnders fans threaten to switch off over Keanu scenes

It is also claimed that Shona may consider trying her hand at being a popstar after impressing fans with her voice over the years.

EastEnders star Shona McGarty plays Whitney Dean in the BBC soap (Credit: BBC)

EastEnders fans issue plea over Shona McGarty’s exit

Viewers are in shock at the news. One said: “Sad about Whitney, great character and amazing actress, despite the seemingly never ending misery for her she has always been compelling.”

But others have been very clear about exactly how Whitney must leave. She MUST have a happy ending, according to fans

“Sad news. Whitney is a great character and Shona is a huge asset to the cast. I want Whitney to leave on a positive note, allow her character to have some time away and bring her back fighting in a few years time,” wrote one.

Someone else agreed: “After all the tragedy Whitney has been through on the Square I would actually love her to have a happy ending and sail off into the sunset with a new man to start afresh.

“Whitney would be needing to get her long awaited happy ever after or else…” threatened one more.

EastEnders usually airs weeknights at 7.30pm on BBC One.

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Soap Contributor
Soap Contributor