Fans of Coronation Street will no doubt be aware that Shobna Gulati has quit the show and her role as Sunita Alahan…
We’ll see Shobna for the last time later this month after her character dies following a fire in the Rovers.
And over the weekend, Shobna has revealed to The Sun why she chose to leave the ITV serial drama, claiming that her fame has caused her to suffer “crippling bouts of depression.”
While revealing that she’s been subjected to racist taunts and threats, and while adding that she’s been receiving counseling, Shobna said, “When you’re in a dark place, there only appears to be one way out.
“You try not to consider that. I’ve always tried not to reach that low.
“But when a bout of depression hit me I could lock myself away for a week. I lived like a hermit.”
Of Sunita being killed off, Shobna remarked, “I now feel free.”
She added, “Corrie fame made me a recluse. When I handed in my resignation I knew it was the right thing.
“I hope now I won’t feel like I’m living in a goldfish bowl and the stress in my life will be reduced.
“There are a lot of things about the Street I loved, but there are many things I won’t miss.
“The pressure got too much. I’m pleased just to be Shobna again.”
Mum of one Shobna continued, “I was generally happy within Coronation Street, but it was people outside the confines of the set that brought me down.
“People felt it was OK to come up to me and say anything. They would say things without thinking, such as how tired I looked or how fat and ugly I looked on TV.
“I’d get racial abuse on networking sites. I’ve had, ‘I hate that P***’ on Twitter and people saying I look like a duck because I have big lips.
“I’ve cried many times about the way people have reacted to me.
“I know I shouldn’t take it personally and should concentrate on the good stuff, but that’s difficult.”
However, Shobna went on to say that she’s concerned about how she’ll cope financially now she’s left Corrie.
She said, “When you’re not on screen it can be tight, really tough, worrying. When you don’t have a big storyline and don’t appear often it’s a struggle managing cashflow.
“I’ve been totally skint and struggled to pay the bills. From the end of July last year to the start of January I had about five episodes.
“I would use my credit card to simply get by. I’d check every single price in the supermarket.
“I changed my car for a cheaper version. I didn’t have luxuries such as getting my nails done.
“I panicked and cried out of frustration when bills arrived.
“People think we’re on huge salaries, but it can be an average wage. You would feel odd when you were not working.
“It should be a time to relax, but I would worry about money and feel insecure.
“From week to week you would get the scripts, not knowing beforehand if you were in an episode or not.
“Imagine not knowing if you’re working from one day to the next, when the outside world thinks you’re this megarich soap star.
“It doesn’t work like that. Obviously that got to me too.”
The paper adds, “The pressure saw the star plagued by spells of depression as often as once a month — an ailment she first battled as a teenager but thought she had under control. At her lowest ebb, she would shut herself away for days at her home on the outskirts of Manchester.”
Shobna said, “All I wanted to do was be myself within those four walls. I could lock myself away for a week if I wasn’t in work.
“For the first two days I’d sit in my onesie and for the next few days I’d battle to try to stop feeling down. I had to be on my own without anybody else suffering the consequences.
“Sometimes I felt like a prisoner. I didn’t want to face the outside world and the public pressure.
“I’d call my mum and she would tell me the things I needed to hear, put things in perspective.”
Finally, she added, “I’m very shy, so the attention made it much worse. They didn’t realise I was Shobna, not Sunita.
“Every day, when I was outside, somebody wanted a photo, somebody wanted a part of me.
“A regular job’s difficult to hold down when you have depression, but Corrie is a different beast…
“People seem to think that because you’re on such a big TV programme they have the right to say whatever they want to you.
“It’s too much sometimes. You can’t go anywhere without getting recognised. People stare or talk about me and seem to presume I’m blind and deaf.
“Recently, I was buying oranges in a supermarket and a man came up to me and said that he had seen me on The Thin Blue Line — which I have never been in.
“I said I hadn’t, but he just wouldn’t listen to me.
“He was arguing with me as if I didn’t know which show I had worked on. It upset me.
“The other day people on a tram were chanting ‘Sunita!’ at me. I’m sure they didn’t mean any harm but I was scared and intimidated.
“And just last month I got moved to first class on a train by the inspector because I was asleep and drooling.
“He woke me up, said someone was videoing me and suggested that I moved. I was very grateful to him.
“I chose to be an actor but I didn’t choose to give up being a human being.”
What a shame she’s been so negatively affected. Here’s a look at what’s ahead this week for Sunita…