Actor Marc Elliott says his decision to quit Eastenders was motivated through the fear of becoming typecast as “the gay Muslim”.
Tonight Elliott’s character, Syed Masood, is set to enter into a civil partnership with his boyfriend Christian Clarke in an episode to be screened at 7.30pm on BBC One.
Elliott’s character will then leave the long-running soap next month.
In an interview with the Sun, Elliot 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.”
He continued: “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.”
Although the BBC has received praise for featuring a prominent same-sex relationship in the soap, it also received a small number of complaints for showing Syed and Christian in bed together and sharing a quick kiss before the 9pm watershed in 2011.
“The BBC and myself anticipated an adverse reaction. I had only one comment in the street in Manchester. Someone called me a knob-jockey in the street, which I thought was hilarious,” Elliot said.