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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 June, 2003, 10:37 GMT 11:37 UK
Asian family enters Albert Square
Ferreira family
The family cause tension in the Square
The first Asian family to be cast in EastEnders for 10 years is making its debut in the BBC soap on Tuesday.

The show last introduced an Asian family into its storylines with Gita and Sanjay Kapoor, who arrived in Albert Square in 1993.

Executive producer Louise Berridge said she wanted to bring in some new male characters but was not specifically looking for an Asian family.

"We didn't set out to look for an Asian family. We wanted a new family as there were various elements missing from the show. I thought we were short on males and needed a surge of testosterone," she said.

The soap's newest characters feature a five-strong unit led by single parent Dan (Dalip Tahil).

Kareena (Poojah Shah)
Kareena (Poojah Shah) hides something from her father
The family are set to cause a stir from the moment they throw a housewarming party for the Albert Square residents.

Brother and sister, Ronny (Ray Panthaki) and Kareena (Poojah Shah), immediately attract unwanted attention from Zoe Slater (Michelle Ryan) and Martin Fowler (James Alexandrou).

Tahil has already enjoyed a successful Bollywood career and recently appeared in West End musical Bombay Dreams.

His character moved to England in the 1960s with dreams of becoming a rock star but went into the fashion trade instead, causing friction with the Slater family who work in the same industry.

Tahil's casting has already caused controversy with British Asian actors calling his appointment "disgraceful" because they say a UK performer should have been given the role.

"One aspect of what I read hurts because British Asian actors have come to Bollywood and pursued a career there," said Tahil.


"One I know couldn't even speak Hindi."

Ms Berridge added that it had taken more than two years to get the characters onto the show, and that the characters were formed around the actors who play them.

"It wasn't until early last year that we knew what we were looking for," she said.

"We didn't set out knowing exactly what we wanted. We workshopped constantly, trying out different improvisations with the actors and the characters evolved."

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