EastEnders’ Balvinder Sopal opens up about ‘daunting’ kissing scenes and same-sex romance

EastEnders' Suki Kaur Panesar (Balvinder Sopal) and Eve Unwin (Heather Pearce) kissing

EastEnders star Balvinder Sopal has opened up about her ongoing same-sex storyline.

The actor said her character Suki Panesar’s relationship with Eve Unwin (played by Heather Peace) is “everything I have never played”.

Sopal, 42, told BBC Radio Kent: “For a lot of my career I have played women who have never been exposed in that way, sexually.

“It has always been women who cannot speak English, that wear a hijab.

“Suki is everything I have never played… so doing kissing scenes with somebody that is not a partner is quite daunting and weird and strange.”

Sopal has previously praised the slow-burn nature of Suki’s relationship with Eve, adding that it is “truthful” and “sensitive” towards LGBTQ+ and South Asian communities alike.

“Everyone enjoys a slow-burn story. If everything happened really quickly, there would be nothing to work towards,” she told Digital Spy.

We’re also trying to tell a truthful story for people in the LGBTQ+ community and the South-East Asian community too.

We are dealing with it very sensitively, and the only way to do that is to tell the story slowly and unravel it bit by bit.”

Peace, 47, told Digital Spy about the EastEnders romance: “It’s a love story. The thing that’s great about me and Bal is we’ve talked all the way along and we’ve wanted this to be a love story, as opposed to anything salacious.

“I think the writers have given us that.

“It’s a slow burn and it continues. They’ve written it really beautifully. The scenes we’ve seen recently are ones that the writers have allowed us to earn.”
She added that Eve has possibly been her “favourite character” to play during her acting career.

“I haven’t been in a long-running soap before… I didn’t think that the thing I would love the most about soap is the exploration at such a deep level.

“It feels like there’s so much time to explore stuff. It was a real surprise to me and I can honestly say, after 25 years of doing this, Eve might be my favourite character.”

EastEnders has previously been praised for its LGBTQ+ storylines and characters, with its first-ever permanent drag queen character, played by Matthew Morrison, having been announced in June.

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