Nitin Ganatra thought 'EastEnders' bosses were going to recast Masood Ahmed.

Nitin Ganatra as Masood Ahmed

Nitin Ganatra as Masood Ahmed

The 50-year-old actor left the long-running soap as the loveable postman a year ago and has admitted he was shocked when producers got back in touch with him recently to ask him to reprise his alter ego because he thought that chapter of his life was over.

Speaking to Inside Soap magazine, he said: "I'm usually aware of what's going on around me and I can predict things, but when they asked me if I wanted to return it as so unexpected that it left me speechless. That's not happened before! ... I thought it was the end of a chapter for me, but not necessarily for Masood - he could have been recast as a much more handsome guy, as it sometimes the way in TV world. But as far as I was concerned, it was the end of my time on the show and I was making plans."

Nitin thoroughly enjoys playing the role of Masood because he believes the viewers can relate to him more than they can bad boy Max Branning (played by Jake Wood).

He explained: "One of the best things about Masood is his reliability. Not every man can relate to Max Branning and if they do, it's a worrying world we live in.

"The majority of men can relate to Masood regardless of his religion and his colour, and that's what is so beautiful about this."

And he wasn't the only one excited about returning to the show as some of the children he works with were over the moon when he told them about him reprising his role.

He said: "I work with young kids, and I went to an event at a school recently.

"When I stood up to talk, I told them I'd come straight from work at Albert Square because Masood is back - and everyone got on their feet screaming. There were 200 teenagers chanting: 'Masood!'"