Actress Shona McGarty became a familiar face in homes across the UK for playing the role of Whitney Dean in long-running BBC soap EastEnders.
Making her first appearance in Albert Square in 2008, Shona’s character has been involved in several hard-hitting storylines during her 13 year run.
Some of which include dealing with her childhood sexual abuse traumas, her failed relationships and most recently attempting to expose evil serial killer Gray Atkins.
And let’s not forget to mention that Whitney lost her partner Kush to Gray’s hands.
But away from EastEnders, Shona lives a relatively calm life from her troubled on-screen persona, so to celebrate her 30th birthday, Daily Star has taken a look at what she gets up to away from the show.
Shona has had a couple of highly publicised relationships since being in the spotlight.
In 2011, the East London star dated co-star Matt Lapinskas who is known to fans for playing the role of Anthony Moon in the soap.
The couple dated for approximately 18 months before rumours started circulating that Matt was getting rather close to his Dancing On Ice partner Brianne Delcourt.
The romance didn’t end amicably, with Matt telling the Sun on Sunday that the relationship was “like hell” and like he was “looking after a child,” adding: “Shona had no interest in being there for me. All she was interested in was going out partying until 2am.
“Things between us were fine at EastEnders and at the time it felt right. But as soon as I left the show we went through one rough patch after another.”
After her relationship with Matt ended, the actress then went on to date musician Ryan Harris.
The pair certainly was a loved up couple with Ryan proposing to Shona on her 26th birthday in 2018.
Speaking to OK! magazine regarding her engagement at the time, Shona said: “Ryan asked me to cut the birthday cake and I was like ‘Why? We’re not getting married!’ But I did it and there was a box on the top of the cake and Ryan asked me to open the box.
“When I opened it there was a ring inside and I turned around and Ryan was down on one knee and I started crying.”
She added: “The engagement was a complete surprise, but we had spoken about marriage, just to check that we both wanted the same things.”
But by 2020, the couple hit rock bottom and the EastEnders star announced that she had split from Ryan and they had already departed ways a year prior.
Over the last few months, Shona has certainly showed off her incredible vocals on the BBC soap- shocking fans around the nation.
But although, she impressed viewers with her singing skills on Children In Need in 2012, Shona always aspired to be a musician and rumours have circulated that she has in fact recorded music in the past.
During UK’s national lockdown in 2020, Shona shocked her fans once again when she showcased her talent on Tik Tok.
In one of the clip’s Shona’s fans were quick to comment on her sultry tones and couldn’t believe she had such an angelic voice.
Commenting on one of the videos, one of her followers said: “I could listen to this forever. What a voice!” While a second added: “That’s stunning. Amazing voices.”
Even X Factor winner Leona Lewis praised her singing talent after Shona’s character Whitney performed Snow Patrol’s Run, which Leona famously performed on the ITV show, in the Queen Vic.
Leona took to social media and said: “Excuse me while I hyperventilate!!! To see someone sing my song (and sooo beautifully) on a show I grew up watching – this means everything to me!!!”
Life in lockdown
Shona made sure she kept herself very busy when lockdown hit and passed the time with creative outlets like painting and singing in her kitchen.
Due to filming coming to halt on the EastEnders set, Shona just like the majority of the nation, had to stay indoors to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Speaking about self-isolation in April 2020 to Metro, the star said: “I have been keeping in contact with friends from work. We all speak regularly.”
“I’m obviously keeping in contact with my family and friends via FaceTime etc. It’s so important to keep spirits up and communicate with each other. I live on my own with my 2 doggies Coco and Cece.”
“I would like to say, as someone who has suffered with anxiety, it’s so important that we can fearlessly speak out about our mental health at this time.
Strictly Come Dancing
In September soap star Shona revealed that she turned down a chance to compete in Strictly Come Dancing due to her anxiety.
Shona was asked by the BBC to take part in the dancing competition a few years ago but refused to appear on the show because she felt nervous about the live shows.
Talking about her anxiety to Best magazine she said: “I’ve always wanted to do [Strictly]. I was asked a few years ago to go on the show. But my anxiety got the better of me and I thought I would be too nervous to do a live show.”
“But now my be a good time for me to conquer my anxiety – just go for it and deal with it when I get there! I love dancing, I love the costumes, and it’s such an iconic show.”