EastEnders: Marc Elliott (Syed Masood) doesn’t want to be remembered as gay Muslim!
EastEnders star Marc Elliott, has revealed the reason behind his decision to quit the award-winning BBC1 soap was for fear for being remembered as, and stereotyped for future roles, as just a gay Muslim.
Marc, who joined the cast of EastEnders as the confused eldest Masood son, Syed, back in 2009, has just filmed his final scenes for the show, which will air next month.
At the moment, as fans of the show will know, Syed is about to marry his long-term partner, Christian (John Partridge) with the full blessing of his family, who originally disowned him when he came out as being gay.
However, whilst the rest of his family are rejoicing in the wedding plans, Syed has embarked on a dangerous flirting battle with Walford newcomer, Danny Pennant (Gary Lucy) and at the end of last night’s episode told Christian he could not marry him.
As our pictures show, the wedding does go ahead in tonight’s episode, but the couple is set for more trouble in the lead up to Marc’s exit next month.
When Marc took on the role of Syed, he took on one of the most taboo subjects still around, homosexuality in the Muslim community, and EastEnders received 125 complaints when he was shown kissing Christian in bed before the 9pm watershed.
Now, some four years later, Marc admits he is very proud of being involved in such a cutting edge storyline, but does cite it also as his reason for quitting as he feared it would overshadow any future roles.
Speaking to the Sun newspaper, Marc, who is now starring in Tape in London’s West End, said: “I didn’t want to be remembered as that lad from EastEnders, the gay Muslim. That’s why you get into the business, to find new characters.”
Discussing the wedding scenes we will see tonight, during which bailiff’s turn up to confront Syed over his financial slum, Marc continued:
“Syed’s screwing his family over again. And he snogs Danny. Then punches him in the face, as you do in Walford.”
However, despite wanting to shake off any stereotyping, Marc still believes the role of Syed was significant in helping to raise awareness for those struggling to come to terms with their sexuality, in particular those bound also by religious beliefs.
“Playing Syed meant I’ve had loads of letters from people of all religions coming to terms with their sexuality.
“That’s what I am proud of most, portraying a normal, loving gay relationship.
“That’s quite an important thing, it’s normalising it, two men being affectionate with each other.
“And when someone tells you they’ve found the strength to tell their parents, you feel proud.” And despite complaints about his steamier scenes, and being called boring, Marc insists he’s nearly always been warmly received.
He said: “The biggest fans of Syed and Christian’s storyline are women who love the love angle.
“The BBC and myself anticipated an adverse reaction. I had only one comment in the street in Manchester. Someone called me a n** jockey in the street, which I thought was hilarious.”
Marc went on to reveal how it took hours to film his steamy kissing scenes with Danny, as they could hear cheering when former EastEnder Cheryl Fergison (who played Heather Trott) entered the Celebrity Big Brother house at nearby Elstree Studios.
He said: “When filming kiss scenes with Danny, we could hear the cheering, so we had to keep doing a few takes.
“Gary’s a really nice chap, and great fun. We had a laugh.”
With everything looking like it is set for a wedding and a happy ending, the question remains whether Syed will in fact go through with his vows or not, especially with the bailiff’s sat in the front pews. And if that wasn’t bad enough, his ex-wife, Amira (Preeya Kalidas) returns to Walford too.
Marc revealed of his exit: “I have a mini fling with Danny… will he, won’t he marry Christian, will he, won’t he leave the Square?
“Syed’s been naughty; he’s stolen £15,000 from his mum. And then of course Amira returns.
“There is major confrontation between Christian and I about everything because it transpires that something else took place with Danny.”
On his departure, he continued: “The great thing about EastEnders for me is that I struck gold with the Masoods. They’re not mother and father, they’re brother and sister too. They’re like a real family.”
“Everyone’s nice on the show, even Phil Mitchell. He’s a pussycat.”
Watch Syed and Christian’s wedding on tonight’s EastEnders at 7.30pm on BBCOne/BBCOne HD.
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