|Played by||Himesh Patel|
|Arrival||1 October 2007|
|Spin-off appearances||EastEnders: E20|
|Date of birth||23 October 1990|
Creation and development Edit
Tamwar Masood was one of several Asian characters introduced in 2007 by executive producer, Diederick Santer. He was first seen in October 2007. Tamwar was the third character in the Masood family to make an appearance on-screen, joining the already established Zainab, and Shabnam (his mother and sister) who both appeared in July 2007. The core family was completed by the introduction of Tamwar's father, Masood Ahmed, a few weeks later. The Masoods were the first Muslim family to join the show since the Karims, who appeared between 1987 and 1990, and they were the first Asian family to be introduced since the unsuccessful Ferreira family in 2003. Panned by critics and viewers, the Ferreiras were dismissed as unrealistic by the Asian community in the UK, and were eventually axed in 2005.
The introduction of more ethnic minority characters is part of producer Diederick Santer's plan to "diversify", to make EastEnders "feel more 21st century". Prior to 2007, EastEnders was heavily criticised by the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE), for not representing the East End's real "ethnic make-up". It was suggested that the average proportion of visible minority faces on EastEnders was substantially lower than the actual ethnic minority population in East London boroughs, and it therefore reflected the East End in the 1960s, not the East End of the 2000s. Furthermore, it was suggested that an element of "tokenism" and stereotyping surrounded many of the minority characters in EastEnders. The expansion of minority representation in EastEnders provides "more opportunities for audience identification with its characters, hence a wider appeal." Trevor Phillips, CRE chair, has said: "balanced representation of ethnic minority communities in the media matters. The industry has a key part to play in this, it is a powerful tool and can go a long way towards helping to build an integrated society."
The then-17-year-old actor, Himesh Patel, was cast in the role of Tamwar. Like the character he plays, Patel is the son of a of a postmistress and he is also a former paperboy. He has commented: "I was so nervous before I went for the audition - my biggest role before was in plays at school but they made us feel very welcome…I was thrilled when I learned that I had got the part…[I] have been avidly watching EastEnders to get up to speed with all the characters … Being in EastEnders is such a great start to my career and working with some amazing actors is fantastic. Sometimes I only get the scripts a couple of days before filming, so it can be a bit stressful learning the lines but I'm managing so far … The whole EastEnders 'family' has been very helpful, and I was made to feel at home from the moment I arrived.
Patel has revealed that he was already a "big fan" of the actors who play his on-screen mother and father, Nina Wadia and Nitin Ganatra: "I was a big fan of Nina and Nitin already, and suddenly to find myself working with such experienced and respected actors was like a dream come true." Steve Biggs, the director of the Cambridge-based "Young Actors Company", where Patel trained, has said "Apart from being an excellent actor, Himesh is a very likeable and down-to-earth young man, who I'm sure will prove to be an absolute hit, both on and off screen". Actress Nina Wadia, who plays Patel's screen mother, has added: "I'm looking forward to working with my on-screen son, Himesh Patel."
Himesh Patel has described his character: "Tamwar is a quiet boy who could be described as a geek but he is quite single-minded and will do what he wants". Reports in 2007 claimed that Tamwar was to struggle with his sexual identity and be the first homosexual Muslim character featured in a British soap opera. This, however, was denied by the BBC. It has later come apparent that this role has been taken by his older brother, Syed Masood.
One of the character's storylines involved his secret website where he makes fun of other EastEnders characters. The site, Rude Masood, was shown on screen briefly in October 2009. The actual website subsequently had 186,432 views in a day. Santer commented "It's always fun to find ways to tell our stories and celebrate our characters beyond the show itself. Hopefully, the many people that have found Tamwar's special website will derive big enjoyment from Himesh Patel's extraordinary work. I'm grateful to our very talented webteam — and to Himesh and our writers — for putting this together."
In October 2010, Tamwar grows tired of being single and dates Afia Khan (Meryl Fernandes) but his parents ban them from seeing each other due to history with Afia's father. Patel felt that Tamwar's loneliness was related to his brother Syed's relationship with Christian Clarke (John Partridge), his friend Darren Miller's (Charlie G. Hawkins) relationship with Jodie Gold (Kylie Babbington) and the fact he was left at home with his parents. Tamwar first meets Afia in 2009 but lies that he is attending Oxford University so she dumps him. Patel said Tamwar is greatful for his second chance with Afia, and said there is "a split-second change in Tamwar and his attitude." He added that the storyline is "new territory" for Tamwar, as he has never been part of the family's problems before and feels a sense of guilt for bringing a new problem.
Tamwar is a studious fellow who works hard on his studies to please his parents, Zainab (Wadia) and Masood (Ganatra). They are delighted when he achieves five A grades during his AS Level exams, with Zainab boasting that Tamwar will be attempting to get a place at either Cambridge or Oxford University. Tamwar uses his intellect to help his parents set up their own business, Masala Masood, a Pakistani take away service. This evolves into a fast food market stall, which Tamwar helps run with his friend Waseem (Richard Charles). Tamwar's secrecy concerns his mother, and she concludes that he is gay, but it transpires that Tamwar is hiding his new hobby as a stand up comic. He shocks his mother by announcing that he wants to pursue comedy as a career, but later retracts and agrees to apply to Oxford. However, he fails to achieve the grades he needs for his place at Oxford, but does not confess this to his family. When his brother Syed's (Marc Elliott) fiancée Amira Shah (Preeya Kalidas) forces Tamwar to do so, he confesses to his family that he cannot go to university. He then sets up his own website, Rude Masood, where he impersonates Walford's residents.
At Syed and Amira's wedding, Tamwar meets up with Afia Khan (Meryl Fernandes). He tells her he has never kissed a girl, so she kisses him. A few days later, they go out to lunch, and Tamwar ends their brief romance. When he receives his A level resit results, they are worse than the first time he took them, so he decides to give up trying to go to university. When Syed and Christian Clarke (John Partridge) resume a homosexual relationship, Tamwar is angry with his mother for acting like Syed is dead, and is generally supportive of Syed. Tamwar starts to grow tired of being single, especially as his best friend Darren Miller (Charlie G. Hawkins) is in a relationship with Jodie Gold (Kylie Babbington). He starts seeing Afia again and meets her father Yusef (Ace Bhatti) who approves of him. Yusef arranges to meet Zainab and Masood, but he is revealed to be Zainab's ex-husband whose family set her on fire for infidelity. Tamwar tells Afia they cannot see each other again. The next day Afia visits Tamwar and tries to persuade him to reconsider. Tamwar refuses, saying he has to respect the will of his parents. Zainab and Masood buy the local Indian restaurant, the Argee Bhajee, saying it is for Tamwar to run, but he does not want it. Syed arranges for Afia to see Tamwar, and they spend time alone in the restaurant. However, Masood discovers this and again bans Tamwar from seeing her.
Tamwar also makes cameo appearances in the Internet spin-off series EastEnders: E20. In episode 8 of series 1, Mercy Olubunmi (Bunmi Mojekwu) asks him for help with a website project. Later, her friend Fatboy (Ricky Norwood) sees them talking and accuses Tamwar of sleeping with Mercy and getting her pregnant. In episode 3 of series 2, Tamwar delivers a curry to Stevie Dickinson (Amanda Fairbank-Hynes) but finds her waiting in bed as she was expecting Masood who she had an erotic dream about. Tamwar is embarrassed and takes the curry back when she is unable to pay. In episode 5, Naz Mehmet (Emaa Hussen) flirts with Tamwar in order to get free food, and though he is reluctant, he agrees when she says one day he can touch her breasts.
In 2008, it was reported that Cambridge University wanted to shed its "elitist" image and approached the producers of Britain's three leading soaps, EastEnders, Coronation Street and Emmerdale, to include it in their storylines. Spokesman Greg Hayman said the idea was part of a bid to correct the perception that Cambridge was "not for young people from ordinary backgrounds. We're very keen to attract the brightest and best students regardless of their background," Hayman said. "One of the better ways of communicating directly with potential students is to talk to them through the soaps and other programs they watch." This move followed government pressure for the university to become more inclusive and to target all economic backgrounds. 90% of British students attend state high schools, Oxford and a Cambridge draw only about half their student body from there. It was reported that working-class individuals view attending Oxford or Cambridge as an impossible dream, which university officials claim is unfair and they are hoping to dispel this by featuring the Universities in working-class soaps such as EastEnders. Hayman said there have been no firm commitments from TV producers, although one crew was planning an exploratory visit to Cambridge; however he expressed that he was happy with the plot running in EastEnders that showed "working-class teenagers Tamwar Masood and Libby Fox considering applying to Cambridge and Oxford, to the delight of their ambitious mothers", saying that "It's a very happy coincidence." Oxford University said it had no plans to write to the soaps for inclusion but a spokesperson claims, "I did speak to somebody at EastEnders about our bursary scheme in case the story line was going to continue. We wanted to make sure they knew what kind of assistance might be available to someone like Libby." EastEnders refused to comment on whether the universities would be featured at the time, as Tamwar and Libby still had another year left at college "and it was too early to say whether the Oxford-Cambridge plot would continue."
Reporting on the University storyline, The Guardian noted that Libby and Tamwar applying to the universities "could be their dream storyline: clever state school kids can get a place. But it could also be their worst nightmare. Young Libby is already revealing concerns that she might not be able to afford to go to the university." The paper alleges that both universities' press offices "fired off letters to the script editors: did they know about the generous bursaries and seemingly bottomless pit of cash available to help students from low-income homes stay on their courses? Could that be mentioned?".
Tamwar, along with the rest of the Masood family, was criticised by actor Deepak Verma, who played Sanjay Kapoor between 1993 and 1998. He said that EastEnders had failed to portray Asian families in a realistic manner, branding the family "two-dimensional and ill-conceived". A BBC spokesperson responded by saying ""It's a shame Deepak feels that way but that's clearly his personal opinion. The Masood family have proved to be hugely popular with EastEnders viewers." In 2009, Ruth Deller of entertainment website lowculture.co.uk praised Tamwar, stating: "Tamwar has really come into his own lately, and everyone is rooting for him to get with Amira – he appeals to the inner geek in all of us, except he's probably better at one-liners." A writer for website Watch With Mothers also praised Tamwar in the light of the reveal of his brother Syed's affair with gay character Christian Clarke, saying this his line "so long as we've got each other" was so mature that it "elevated his character above the entire plot-strand, everyone around him and, almost, the entire show. [...] Tamwar's was the only script containing any genuine sensitivity or common sense."
- ↑ "Two new characters join Eastenders Asian family", www.asiansinmedia.org. URL last accessed 2007-10-16.
- ↑ "Unrealistic’ Ferreira family dismissed by Asian viewers", The Stage. URL last accessed 2007-10-16.
- ↑ "Unrealistic’ EastEnder accuses BBC of discrimination", Digital Spy. URL last accessed 2007-10-16.
- ↑ "The art of storytelling", The Guardian. URL last accessed on 2007-03-27.
- ↑ "EastEnders hasn't got enough black and Asian actors", Sunday Mirror. URL last accessed on 2007-03-27.
- ↑ "EastEnders", www.museum.tv. URL last accessed on 2007-03-27.
- ↑ "Coronation Street and EastEnders battle it out for coveted CRE Race In the Media Award", cre.gov.uk. URL last accessed on 2007-03-27.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 "Himesh, 17, joins EastEnders". Peterborough Evening Telegraph. 16 October 2007. http://www.peterboroughtoday.co.uk/news/Himesh-17-joins-EastEnders.3380548.jp. Retrieved 2008-12-14.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 "Special delivery: paperboy lands EastEnders post", The Hunts Post. URL last accessed 2007-10-16.
- ↑ "EastEnders wedding gossip", Digital Spy. URL last accessed 2007-10-28.
- ↑ "'EastEnders' 'Rude Masood' website a hit". Biz Asia. 6 October 2009. http://media247.co.uk/bizasia/newsarchive/2009/10/eastenders_rude.php. Retrieved 9 October 2009.
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 Kilkelly, Daniel (16 November 2010). "Himesh Patel (Tamwar Masood, 'EastEnders')". Digital Spy (London: Hachette Filipacchi UK). http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/soaps/s2/eastenders/interviews/a287945/himesh-patel-tamwar-masood-eastenders.html. Retrieved 16 November 2010.
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 "Cambridge University wants to be on soaps, shed elitist image", USA Today. URL last accessed 2008-10-10.
- ↑ "Which soap stars would you send to Oxbridge?", The Guardian. URL last accessed 2008-10-10.
- ↑ Martin, Lara (20 July 2009). "Former 'Enders star slams Asian portrayal". Digital Spy. http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/soaps/a166337/former-enders-star-slams-asian-portrayal.html. Retrieved 21 October 2009.
- ↑ Deller, Ruth (31 October 2009). "Soapstar Superstars – September/October". lowculture.co.uk. http://lowculture.co.uk/index.php/2009/10/31/soapstar-superstars-septemberoctober/. Retrieved 16 May 2010.
- ↑ "Just a Thought: EastEnders – In Praise of Tamwar". Watch With Mothers. 2010. http://watchwithmothers.net/2010/04/27/just-a-thought-eastenders-in-praise-of-tamwar/. Retrieved 16 May 2010.