EastEnders star Shona McGarty speaks out on Whitney's devastating baby story

EastEnders spoilers follow.

EastEnders' Whitney Dean will have her world turned upside down next week, when her unborn baby is diagnosed with Edwards' Syndrome.

Show bosses had already confirmed they were going to be exploring the issue-based story through Whitney and Zack, who learned they were going to be parents last year.

Here, Shona McGarty, who plays Whitney, discusses her character's devastating news and explains what happens next.

Next week, viewers will learn the news that Whitney and Zack’s baby has been diagnosed with Edwards’ Syndrome. Can you explain how Whitney is feeling?

"This is Whitney’s worst nightmare. She’s been doing a lot of research online and they always say you shouldn’t search stuff, but obviously, Whitney just can’t help it. I’m sure we could all put ourselves in that position and we’d probably do the same.

"She’s been doing her research and she knows that if the baby is to be diagnosed with Edwards’ Syndrome, then the chances that the baby would survive are a lot lower, so this is her worst nightmare. She’s shocked, she’s obviously devastated, and it only leaves her with two options. She really has to make a very difficult decision and think about what she would be able to cope with going forward."

Had you heard of the condition before you were given the storyline?

"No I hadn’t, and I’m sure a lot of people aren’t aware of it. I’ve had a lot of messages from people who weren’t aware of the omphalocele either. But also I’ve received a lot of messages from women who have been through it and they know how difficult it is, and how complicated it all is, so I think it’s important that we’re raising awareness of omphalocele and Edwards’ Syndrome."

We know you have some emotional scenes coming up. How did working with the charities help inform how you played these?

"Working with the charities and speaking with women who have had experience with this really helped me to get a better understanding of emotionally what they were going through. Being an actress, I felt it was important to portray their feelings as accurately as possible, and also to get the medical information completely accurate, even the smallest details.

"A lot of the women I spoke with didn’t know what to expect when they received the diagnosis. Obviously, when you’ve got the scripts in front of you, you know what’s going to happen, but you want to make it look as real as possible.

"It was very kind of them to share their experiences and so bravely and openly talk about it again. The thing that spoke so strongly to me from our chats was that, you will never forget this. You never forget the pain, emotion and physical, you just never ever forget, but it’s so important to raise awareness."

Does Whitney rely heavily on those around her for support?

"She tries to keep herself to herself. She locks herself away, and she doesn’t want to think about it. She’s always wanted to be a mum and she’s battling with her own thinking and it’s such an unbelievably tough decision for her to make."

whitney dean, zack hudson, eastenders

How do Whitney and Zack support each other after the diagnosis?

"Zack’s devastated. They’re both in two minds and they’re both on different pages, but it’s difficult and it puts a real strain on their relationship."

Did you and James Farrar [actor who plays Zack] have any conversations beforehand about how you wanted to portray your scenes?

"Yes, we often discussed that we wanted to play a real journey. We thought it was important to let the script speak louder than the acting. It’s so beautifully written. We didn’t really have to work too hard at all. We thought it was important to show the audience Zack’s journey and Whitney’s journey because at the time, they’re very different.

"What I think is amazing about the scripts and the storyline is how they’re reflecting all of the little triggers and everything else that a couple would have to go through. They’re also not forgetting about the man’s emotions as well, which I thought was so important. It’s so lovely that so much of Zack’s journey is shown. I think it’s really brilliant.

"We went through the scripts every day that we were in and we’d run through the scenes, as we really wanted to do it justice because we really, really care about it."

chelsea fox, whitney dean, eastenders

What is your relationship like with James Farrar?

"He’s so funny. He’s so spiritual and very open and honest and so down to earth. He really cares about his job, and he really cares about his craft, and that’s what is so wonderful about him, that he’s not afraid to play.

"He’ll always do something different in each take, which keeps me on my toes. We always challenge each other in scene. We’re always trying to keep it fresh and exciting.

"When James came in to the show, it was really fun. Whitney has had a lot of boyfriends in the show, but James gives me a challenge every day, which is just brilliant."

Do you think this is going to pull Whitney and Zack closer together, or push them apart?

"As a viewer, I would hope it brings them closer together."

EastEnders airs on Mondays-Thursdays at 7.30pm on BBC One. The show also streams on BBC iPlayer.

Read more EastEnders spoilers on our dedicated homepage

Readers affected by this story may visit SOFT UK and Antenatal Results and Choices for further information and support.

You Might Also Like