Exclusive: EastEnders' James Farrar responds to co-star's sad exit news

EastEnders spoilers follow.

EastEnders actor James Farrar has discussed the sad news that his co-star Shona McGarty will be leaving the soap.

The pair's characters Zack Hudson and Whitney Dean are currently a couple on screen, but it seems that heartbreak could be ahead as Whitney bows out.

Shona confirmed her decision to leave the role of Whitney in late July, although her final scenes aren't expected to air until early 2024.

Speaking exclusively to Digital Spy on the red carpet at the Inside Soap Awards 2023, James commented: "When you trust somebody like they're your family, like they're your best mate, it makes work easy.

zack hudson, whitney dean, eastenders

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"This is a hard job – we're going in for 13-hour days, six-day weeks when you're really busy, and that's what we were doing with the stillborn story with baby Peach. That will stick with me – it will be there forever."

"Shona keeps me guessing in every single moment," he added. "You can probably see it on the screen, but in one scene, you run it and the director says: 'Would you like to do it a different way? Would you like to do it again?' The second one, I'm like: 'How are you giving this performance?' Which then ups my game.

"The fact that I could play with someone with that much talent every day, I was blessed. I'm a bit heartbroken that Shona is leaving."

Asked whether he can confirm Zack is staying on the Square, James laughed: "I'm not allowed to say that! But I would say that I love the show and the future's very bright."

james farrar at the inside soap awards 2023
Anthony Harvey/Shutterstock

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Zack and Whitney's current storyline sees them applying to become foster parents following the sad loss of Peach.

The couple recently secured their own home after learning that this would be a condition for the fostering process.

"Next week we've got a home visit from a lady called Jan, who's an amazing actress – [she] comes in and tells us that we have to go through a certain process in order to foster," James said.

"It deals with everything for Whitney and Zack to go into our foster journey."

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

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