EastEnders star gutted as she forced to pull out of new role due to illness

EastEnders star Shona McGarty has been left devastated as she was forced to pull out of her performance due to ill health.

The 32-year-old, who is best known for playing the role of Whitney Dean in the long-running BBC soap since 2008, is currently starring in a panto production of Beauty and the Beast. Shona has been keeping fans entertained at the Orchard Theatre and Orchard West in Dartford starring as leading lady, Belle.

But fans who have been eagerly waiting to see Shona perform will be left disappointed this weekend after she was forced to make an early exit at the last minute. Taking to Instagram, the actress told fans that she had developed crippling flu-like symptoms while she also warned that she could miss more shows.

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Shona wrote: "Guys… I’ve been feeling rough recently, as you know, and unfortunately have come down with the worst cold n flu symptoms and a really sore throat! I did today's show, and got through it, but it was tough.

"It's such horrid timing to be ill. Typical! During a panto run! Gutted!"

The star went on to apologise to those who wanted to see her on stage. She continued: "I’m so so sorry to anyone who's coming to panto to see me specifically tonight, but I've had to bow out of tonight's performance and possibly tomorrow's too. I've got antibiotics and lots of meds!

"I am going to dose myself up, and get better! I am determined to get back up there, and sing my heart out again soon!

Giving her support to her understudy, she then said: "The wonderful Laura, will be playing Belle tonight. She’s absolutely fabulous."

Fans of Shona have been flocking to see her in panto since she will soon be missing from TV screens. Earlier this year, Shona announced that she will be quitting EastEnders and will bow out from Albert Square in 2024.

The soap star explained that she found it difficult to walk away from the role that she played for 15 years but thought it was now time for something new. She also revealed that she found it an honour to play her character.

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Speaking to Inside Soap, she said: "It wasn't an easy decision because I've made so many friends. I've seen people come and go, and meanwhile, Whitney has been one of the longest-standing characters.

"I’ve had so much fun and done so many storylines, some of which have been sensitive, and I've been honoured to be trusted with such heavy stuff year after year." The star also admitted that she will find it "sad" to go.

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