Nina Wadia

Nina Wadia (born 18 December 1968)[1][2][3] is a British actress, known for playing Zainab Masood in the BBC soap opera EastEnders, Mrs Hussein in the Open All Hours spin-off Still Open All Hours, and for starring in the BBC Two sketch show Goodness Gracious Me. Additionally, Wadia played an important role in the Hindi-language romantic comedy Namaste London (2007).

Nina Wadia
Wadia at an event in 2012
Born (1968-12-18) 18 December 1968
ResidenceStaines-upon-Thames, Surrey, England
  • Actress
  • comedienne
Years active1991–present
Raiomond Mirza (m. 1998)
RelativesSee Wadia family

Early life

Wadia was born in Bombay, India,[2] and is of Parsi ancestry. She has an older brother and older sister; both of her parents are deceased. When Wadia was nine years old; she moved to Hong Kong.[4]


Television and film

Wadia first came to prominence in BBC sketch show Goodness Gracious Me,[5] playing characters such as Mrs "I can make it at home for nothing!" and one half of The Competitive Mothers. She took over from her Goodness Gracious Me co-star, Meera Syal, in the role of Rupinder in the sitcom All About Me alongside Jasper Carrott and Natalia Kills. In 2007, Wadia was cast as Zainab Masood in the long-running BBC soap opera EastEnders.[6] Her last appearance as Zainab in EastEnders was on 8 February 2013.[7] She also had a minor role in EastEnders in 1994, playing a nurse named Viv who treated Michelle Fowler (Susan Tully) when she was hospitalised with a gunshot wound. She also appears as Zainab in the 2010 spin-off EastEnders: E20.

Wadia has also made several guest appearances in various British comedies and dramas, such as 2point4 Children, The Vicar of Dibley, Thin Ice Chambers, Holby City, Murder in Mind and Doctors. She was a regular presenter on the ITV topical chat show, Loose Women (2005–2006). Wadia has most recently appeared in the E4 teen drama Skins, playing the mother of Anwar Kharral, and, in March 2008, she appeared in the BBC Three drama West 10 LDN, she also appeared in New Tricks once. Wadia played the wedding caterer in the comedy film Bend It Like Beckham.

She played a scene-stealing role as the housekeeper in the film I Can't Think Straight, directed by Shamim Sarif. The film revolves about two women from Indian and Palestinian upper-class immigrant communities in the UK who fall in love, and Wadia is the housekeeper who rebels at her high handed Palestinian employer in small ways. She also had a minor part in the film Code 46 (2003). She starred in a BFI/BBC film Sixth Happiness along with Firdaus Kanga in 1997. The film explores sexuality, disability and the Parsees, a small westernised minority in India, of which Wadia herself is a member. She has also starred alongside Rishi Kapoor playing his wife in a Bollywood film titled Namaste London. She voices the title role in Ethelbert the Tiger – a children's programme. She also had a role in Doctor Who as a doctor in the episode "The Eleventh Hour".

In July 2013, Wadia appeared in All Star Mr & Mrs.[8] In September 2013, she appeared in ITV's Big Star's Little Star. Since December 2013, Wadia has starred in Still Open All Hours as Mrs Hussein.[9] In January 2015, it was announced that Wadia would have a guest role in Holby City, as an established neurosurgeon Annabelle Cooper. The role will be for five episodes.[10] In April 2017, she appeared as Khadija in Finding Fatimah, a British romantic comedy.[11] In 2019, as a last minute casting call, and in "More of a Cameo" as Wadia said, she played the minor part of "Zulla" in the live action remake of Aladdin (2019 film) directed by Guy Ritchie.

Stage and radio

Apart from the original radio version of Goodness Gracious Me, Wadia's other radio work includes guesting on Parsons and Naylor's Pull-Out Sections, as well as regular appearances in the BBC World Service soap opera Westway as the pharmacist Namita ul-Haq. In 2001, Wadia voiced the role of Ariel in a BBC Radio 3 production of The Tempest. In 2002, she was due to star in the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Midnight's Children, based on Salman Rushdie's novel, but she quit only weeks before rehearsals were due to begin. There were rumours that her departure was prompted by offers of more lucrative and less demanding television work, although her agent denied this.[12]


Wadia won 'Best Comedy Performance' at the 2009 British Soap Awards. Additionally she won Best Onscreen Partnership at the same awards ceremony for her onscreen relationship with Nitin Ganatra. In 2004, she won the chairman's Award at the Asian Women awards.

In April 2013, she was awarded with the Outstanding Achievement in Television Award at The Asian Awards.[13]

Personal life

Wadia is married to the composer Raiomond Mirza. The couple first met in Canada and married there in July 1998. They live in Staines-upon-Thames, Surrey. Like Wadia, Mirza is a Parsi and the couple had a traditional Parsi wedding.[14]

Wadia was a student at Island School, Hong Kong. Wadia was involved in the Pakistan Earthquake Appeal Concert and Fashion Show, at the Royal Albert Hall in 2005. She has also been involved in campaigning for Save the Children[15] and for increased organ donation from Asians in Britain.[16]




  1. Rollo, Sarah (12 December 2009). "'Enders Wadia plans double celebration". Digital Spy. Retrieved 13 April 2016.
  2. "My secret life: Nina Wadia, actress, 39". The Independent. 10 October 2008. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  3. "Nina Wadia: EastEnders bosses told me I could be the new Pauline Fowler". Daily Record. Scotland. 29 April 2009. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  4. The TV That Made Me s2 e4, 10 March 2016.
  5. Dowell, Ben (25 August 2015). "Goodness Gracious Me: why was the Meera Syal, Nina Wadia and Sanjeev Bhaskar comedy so groundbreaking?". Radio Times. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  6. "New Asian family for Eastenders". Archived from the original on 23 May 2007. Retrieved 16 October 2007.
  7. Brown, David (29 January 2013). "EastEnders: Nina Wadia on Zainab's exit – "It's very sad. We had the crew in tears"". Radio Times. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  8. "All Star Mr & Mrs Episode 11". ITV. Retrieved 28 July 2013.
  9. "BBC Production starts on Still Open All Hours for BBC One". BBC. 16 September 2014. Retrieved 28 December 2014.
  10. Kilkelly, Daniel (4 February 2015). "Holby City casts EastEnders star Nina Wadia as neurosurgeon". Digital Spy. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  11. "Finding Fatimah official website". Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  12. "Nina Wadia walks out of Midnight's Children project". The Times of India. 18 November 2002. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  13. Winners at the Asian Awards
  14. "Question time – Nina Wadia: Goodness, gracious me; Nina Wadia is", Sunday Mirror. URL. Retrieved 31 March 2007.
  15. EastEnders star Nina Wadia swaps the postroom for the classroom in world record breaking attempt Archived 12 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  16. Nina Wadia Pleads for More Asian Organ Donors Archived 10 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  17. "A Street Cat Named Bob (2016)".
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