EastEnders star Shona McGarty shares emotional message over Whitney's exit

EastEnders actor Shona McGarty has shared an emotional message paying tribute to her time on the BBC soap.

The Whitney Dean star is departing the show after 16 years as part of her ongoing explosive exit storyline.

All seemed to be going well for the Albert Square resident – she finally became the foster parent of troubled youth Britney Wainwright, she was planning her wedding to Zack Hudson, and the couple welcomed their daughter Dolly.

whitney dean, eastenders

Related: EastEnders airs emotional character exit in early iPlayer release

But her life was turned upside down after Britney dropped the bombshell that Zack had cheated on Whitney with her best friend Lauren Branning, leading to a fiery confrontation.

As the fallout from their chaotic wedding day continues, Shona has shared some emotional words over her impending exit from the show, confirming her final episode date.

In a video posted to her Instagram page, she tearfully told the camera: "Hey guys. So this is a little message just to say I have of course been following Whitney's journey this week and obviously it's her last week, which has been really emotional to watch because I know it's coming to an end."

She went on to say she is rehearsing for her part in 2:22 A Ghost Story, before explaining that she wanted to watch her final episode, which airs tonight (May 23), with her partner and family, so she will be tuning in on Saturday instead.

After the video cut off, she posted a second video to apologise to fans after she "got a bit emotional" talking about her time on EastEnders ending.

Related: EastEnders' Whitney Dean attacks Lauren Branning after wedding bombshell

"Sorry about that. Got a bit emotional, which is understandable. I've been there 16 years," she continued.

"It has been really emotional, and I just want to say thank you for everyone who has ever supported Whitney ever, or even if you didn't and gave me a hate comment. You know.

"I'm really excited for my future and for EastEnders' future too. It is at the heart of the nation.

"I haven't got a chip on my shoulder about it, it was my decision. It has been a tough old paper round, and I have loved every minute of it.

jack branning, lauren branning and whitney dean in eastenders
Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron - BBC

Related: EastEnders reveals Whitney and Zack wedding fallout in early iPlayer release

"And who knows, the door is wide open and Whitney could come back in, in her high heels and really big earrings one day."

Fans were quick to share their well wishes with Shona, including co-star James Farrar who commented with a crown emoji.

He added: "You come in every day, no matter what’s going on, and you give everything. A smile on your face until the very last day. Powerful."

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