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Tuesday 14 September 2021

Qasim Akhtar interview: Zeedan's return to Weatherfield

What is it like coming back to the cobbles and what was it that made you want to return?

It is amazing, I am having a great time and loving every minute of being back. When I first left I was ready for a break and it was the best thing I could have done. I have been very fortunate to have worked pretty solidly since I was 13, I fell into a career which I love but I needed to take some time out and do some of the things I haven’t been able to do during that time. I feel as though it has also helped me grow as an actor, I feel refreshed and better able to do the job.

I always felt as though I would love to return at some point and when they presented the storyline for Zeedan’s return to me I felt really invested in it straight away. The time felt right, I had kept in touch with my on screen family and Shelley kept asking me to come back, and I am thrilled to be here. I had been asked back earlier but, although I was very grateful for the offer, I wasn't ready. I was doing things that I had previously had no time to do and it helped me find myself a bit. I told my agent that I wanted to take a year off, the first year when I left Corrie I did a lot of travelling. Two weeks after I finished I went to Thailand with Ryan Clayton who had just left the show. I visited about 9 or 10 different countries in that first year, I toured Europe, went to Dubai and even took the opportunity to go to Pakistan, the motherland, after 15 years! It was beautiful because I got to see all my cousins and my grandparents and extended family. The last time I had gone there I was 13, just before I started acting, so it was amazing to be able to see everyone I had lost touch with for so many years and reconnect with my roots.

Zeedan has done some growing up whilst he has been away. Has he changed?

He is fundamentally the same person but he just has a different outlook on life because of the experiences he has gone through. He is only three years older but he has come back more mature. I discussed it with Iain our producer and they have definitely got the character as a more mature, more savvy and on the ball type of guy. He is more business minded, he has got over the things he was dealing with when he left. It had been very full on and he was at a low ebb. I guess he went away a boy and has come back more of a man

What did it feel like stepping back into his shoes after all this time?

It was like I had never left. I walked onto  set on the first day and everyone said it was like I had never been gone. That's what I was hoping for. Before I started on that first day I had those nerves and anxiety, even though I knew I was walking back into a place where I know everyone, it was still like starting a new job again. But within five minutes as I stepped back on set I felt like I had come back home.
How much does he know about what his Gran went through, does he feel guilty for not being around?

He knows everything that has gone on but I just don’t think he has appreciated just how bad it was and how badly she has been affected by it. He doesn’t know the severity of the things that have happened. He has been very much caught up in his own life trying to make a success of his life and his business. It is now starting to realise just how bad it has been for the family and he is reminded of that by Alya who tells him he had no idea what it was like for them, he is told in no uncertain terms that he can’t come throwing his weight around after everything they went through when he wasn't around.

He has come back as a bit of a hero flashing the cash but Alya knows her brother well and is a bit suspicious, does she have reason to be? 

Yes definitely, he is being very cagey, he doesn't tell her where the money has come from and she knows her brother well, so she is right not to trust him and what he is saying. He is being the big I am, but she is the older sister and she knows him of old and what type of guy he has been.

We discover this week that Zeedan is hiding from something or someone. Why does he initially blame Ryan for the attack?

He is just scared that his grandma and sister are going to find out that he has perhaps not been truthful about the money and how he came about it. He is just trying to buy himself some more time, he wants all the attention taken away from the real reason he has been attacked. He just sees an opportunity with Ryan, because he has had an argument with him literally just before the attack, it is the perfect way to deflect the truth.

What does he think of Ryan?

Being that protective brother that he has always been, if anyone hurts his sister he would always want to make them pay for that. He puts his guard up. 

Why does he come clean to Yasmeen and Alya about the attack?

He does find out how much Ryan did for Yasmeen and Alya when he was away so that does change his mind to a degree. But really at the heart of it he doesn't want to lie to them any more, or he wants to tell them a version of the truth. 

How does he feel when Yasmeen tells him she is ashamed of his behaviour?

He feels guilty, that is not what he would want her to think of him and it definitely makes him feel ashamed himself but at the same time he doesn’t have a choice and he is going to bring more problems to their door. He has crossed the wrong people and he has got on the wrong side of someone who is quite a big fish so he will be bringing trouble to the street and Yasmeen and Alya are going to find themselves in the crossfire and in the thick of it with him. That is what appeals to me about coming back, it is a very different Zeedan, he was a victim last time around and the things he went through have hardened him a bit. As soon as I heard what was coming up I was completely on board. I am looking forward to it and I am getting a real buzz out of filming it all.

Glenda Young
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Anonymous said...

So Debby returns 2.0?

Anonymous said...

And the same for when Todd returned.


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