Jags Panesar is set to leave EastEnders in coming weeks as actor Amar Adatia has filmed his final, dramatic scenes on the BBC soap.
Pre-lockdown, the role of Jags was always planned to just see through the course of a specific storyline for the Panesar clan, with Actor Amar already signed up to star in a film.
Due to the soap shutting down, storylines were delayed and Amar returned to filming to shoot his last storyline on screen, which will play out over coming weeks as he finds himself at odds with his mother Suki (Balvinder Sopal) over the type of work she has him doing.
The character is currently in a relationship with Habiba Ahmed (Rukku Nahar) but she has so far wanted to keep it under wraps – and Suki is unlikely to be impressed by the romance.
Exact details of how Jags will depart the soap remain under wraps but the storyline will be a one with far reaching consequences.
Speaking of his time on the show and of his exit, Amar told Metro.co.uk that he has had an amazing time on EastEnders.
We’ve seen Jags having a bit of an enlightenment on screen lately – with his secret relationship with Habiba and struggling with his Mum’s lack of morals when it comes to business…
It’s been nice! For him to have his own opinions on it – after being in the shadow of his Mum and older brothers, for Jags it’s a huge thing! The Panesar’s don’t always do the right thing in the right way so it’s’ been refreshing for Jags to actually see the other side because of Habiba. She’s the angel on one side and devil on the other is Suki telling him what to do…in the end the devil wins!
Do you think Habiba has changed him for the better in that sense?
Yeah – when you’re in a family bubble with lots of siblings and the middle child too, Jags can get a bit cast away to the side by his Mum. So for Jags, it’s having someone else giving him that positive influence, it opens his eyes and he starts realising that he could have a better life and that starts his rebellion towards his mum.
He didn’t cope so well with covering the Martin incident up – how do you think Suki feels about Jags?
Jags went against her and being the strong women she is, just like their Father in the past, anyone that goes against her doesn’t tend to fare so well. He knew what the right thing to do was in that Martin situation but he couldn’t – he wasn’t allowed to.
Finally we see Jags announce his relationship to his family – a big moment for him…
It’s a huge thing for Jags because he’s never really had his own mind. He’s always been told what to do – work in the Minute Mart today, collect rent here, help at the pest control business another day – so he’s finally able to be honest and take a big step. It’s a cultural thing too, going against his family. Especially in some Asian families, coming from that community myself, it’s not the norm to go against what the parents say, even though his sister’s already made that jump and they’ve gone through it on screen, it’s still hard for Jags because it’s such a big deal.
Suki will then make a shocking choice that sees Jags leaving the Square for good…
I always knew I’d only be in the show for a set period of time when I signed up. I had just finished shooting a film and had prior commitments to promote that but then the pandemic hit and everything understandably got put on hold. With timings all pushed back, I was more than happy stay a little bit longer to make sure that we wrapped up Jags’ storyline properly. I was really lucky to have those extra months of filming and to spend time with everyone on set before I said goodbye.
I can’t share too much about what happens but it serves to further prove just how far Suki will go to get her way!
How would you sum up your time at EastEnders?
It’s been an amazing journey! I’ve spent a lot of time behind and in front of the camera, and seeing how fast EastEnders work and how quickly everything is done is incredible. I’ve been so lucky to meet such amazing people there, especially people I’ve watched on TV for so long. I’ve become so so close with my on screen family too – we talk every day, we’re always face timing – especially through lockdown. We’re so close which is amazing, I’ve not got any brothers in real life so they are like my siblings now. That’s been the biggest thing for me – Jaz (Kheerat) also doesn’t have any siblings and I feel like I’m their older brother now (I am older than them all in real life – just not in the show!)
The Panesars have certainly made their impact on the Square, what’s it like to be part of an important family?
It’s been great -they’ve never had a Punjabi family on the screen so it was amazing to represent that. I know how important it is to show diversity and to reflect real life on screen so it was lovely to play a part in a family like that. It’s been an honour and an amazing journey.
What’s your favourite memory of your time on EastEnders?
I can’t pick one! There’s so many funny things that have happened on set – we’re all so close so it’s’ like being with real siblings all the time. Constantly we’re laughing and it’s been so much fun. My first day was so daunting, I’d come back straight from a holiday and suddenly I was in Albert Square so it was a crazy time!
Balvinder is just brilliant at playing the sinister Suki – what’s it been like working with her?
Bal is lovely! We get along really well. It’s funny cause there’s only 7 years between us so I don’t look at her as a Mother figure when we’re not on set, she’s a good friend. But as soon as we’re on screen she’s immediately the Mum and Matriarch of the family.
What will you miss most about Albert Square?
I think being around everyone, seeing the same faces and having fun every day. I don’t take myself too seriously I like having a laugh and I think I brought that onto the set – I’m very bubbly and positive so I hope everyone around me was having fun and it was a positive environment. It was an amazing time. You never know Jags might come back one day!
Any future plans – what’s next for you?
I make films, so I’ve held out on my newest film until I finished at EastEnders because it’s difficult to promote it whilst filming at the same time and with the pandemic everything has been pushed back timings wise. It’s called R.I.A which is a sci-fi film with Luke Goss, Dean Cain and myself and many other names- we shot it all in America just before I got the EastEnders gig actually. I’ll hopefully be doing a tour for that with premiere’s at the end of the year.
I start shooting a whodunnit film in January, with some amazing names. I also have a boxing film that I’m making in summer next year so I’m working on getting in shape for that – the opposite of Jags! I’m looking forward to it and getting into training.
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