It’s been a bit of a blow for EastEnders fans as soap favourite Shona McGarty has announced her decision to quit after 15 dramatic years.
Her troubled alter-ego Whitney Dean has certainly faced her fair share of traumas, with many insisting she might have been soap’s most unluckiest characters of all time.
This year alone, she and partner Zack Hudson (James Farrar) were almost torn apart ahead of him confiding his HIV diagnosis, after they lost their unborn child Peach, who had Edward’s Syndrome.
Her very first episode in EastEnders saw her homeless with her family, who were having to take drastic actions to get a roof over their heads and food on the table.
Worse was to come when it emerged she was being groomed and abused by her stepfather Tony.
In the years that followed, Whitney was targeted by a violent pimp, had her marriage to Lee Carter break down, was jailed after fighting back and killing her stalker, and discovered that her fiancé Callum had cheated on her with Ben Mitchell.
Oh and she was also flattened by a double decker bus, naturally.
There’s a while to go before we see the last of Whitney (for now, anyway), so with Shona’s talents, you can expect some big episodes between now and then.
But what about her final storyline and episodes? Will she be in for another wave of tragedy, or will EastEnders buck the trend and give her a happy ending?
Here are the leading theories.
They came in as a clan, and we know how important family is to Whitney. With Tiffany not long gone, and her mum Bianca out there, Whit has some opportunities to connect with those she loves.
Of course, throwing in reappearances from Maisie Smith (who previously made it clear she’s up for some comebacks) and Patsy Palmer would be the icing on the cake.
With Whitney now a Walford stalwart, hopefully the stars can be tempted back to give her a send-off.
A singing career
EastEnders utilised Shona’s awe-inspiring singing voice for a storyline which saw Whitney hope to pursue a singing career.
It led to some beautiful performances on-screen which bowled fellow characters – and fans – away.
Sadly, due to things not ever going right for Whitney, this fizzled out but this is the perfect opportunity to revisit it.
Whitney could get the opportunity of a lifetime and head off on tour, if EastEnders is up for giving her a reason to smile for a change.
A fresh start
There doesn’t necessarily have to be a dramatic reason for Whitney to want to up sticks and leave – like Shona, she could decide she wants to spread her wings.
Maybe she wants to travel the world, or is offered an exciting new job. Maybe she just wants a break from the area that has been so bad to her.
Time to shake off the bad memories and grab life by the proverbials?
We’d love to see it for Whit, and it leaves that door firmly open for a comeback in the future.
It’s not looking good for Whitney and Zack. This year, their relationship has been on the brink a number of times, and now we know she is leaving, it doesn’t seem possible for them to survive.
At the moment, their division over whether or not to try for a baby again is causing real problems.
Whitney is very clear that she can’t face putting her body and heart through it again after losing Peach, while Zack is enthusiastic about his hopes of being a dad.
A split could happen a number of ways – if it were to happen now, we imagine it could be amicable as they both accept this isn’t going to work.
But if there is soapy drama to be thrown in along the way, things might get a bit more bitter as things go on.
Will tensions erupt as their differing views on the future leave them torn apart? Could the return of Sam tempt a brooding Zack?
There is also the small chance of an unannounced exit for Zack so they can set off on a new life together – but this seems unlikely.
Splitsville is their only viable destination.
A tragic end
EastEnders is not afraid of killing off big characters. We recently lost Lola and a dispatch at Christmas promises to be one of TV’s biggest moments of the year.
In keeping with the ‘Whitney must be in trauma’ vibe, perhaps she will meet her maker in a devastating story that will open up the floodgates for those left behind.
It would be a bold and very divisive move – Shona has hopes that the door will be left open and she is hugely popular – but we can rule nothing out.
But perhaps it would be too cruel (even for ‘Enders) to end a young life this way, after all she has endured and overcome.
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