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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 December, 2003, 20:32 GMT
Blunkett ponders EastEnders case
The Ferreira family in EastEnders
Dan Ferreira (second left) is a popular character in EastEnders
The plight of a star from the popular soap opera EastEnders has been brought to the attention of the home secretary.

Dalip Tahil is said to be facing the prospect of deportation following a decision by the Home Office to reject his appeal to work here for the BBC.

Tahil, 51, plays lovelorn father-of-four Dan Ferreira in the BBC soap.

Ex-minister Keith Vaz says he has raised the issue with Home Secretary David Blunkett and has been assured "he will look into it".

Permit

Bollywood actor Tahil originally came to London to appear in Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber's successful musical "Bombay Dreams".

But it is claimed that he failed to get a proper work permit when he joined the hit BBC One show EastEnders in June as the head of the Ferreira family.

What's going to happen to his children on the programme? They are a very difficult lot ...they will run amok
Keith Vaz on the fictional Ferreira family

It is understood he has been sent a letter by the Home Office dismissing his appeal to continue working in the UK and now faces being returned to India.

Earlier this year British Asian actors called the BBC's decision to give Tahil a major role in the soap "disgraceful" because they say a UK performer should have been given the role.

According to British immigration laws, nationals from outside the European Union should not replace resident actors capable of doing the same work.

Those with "international status" are eligible for work permits as well.

Deirdre Rachid

But now Labour's Mr Vaz, MP for Leicester East, says he has been contacted by so many constituents concerned about Tahil's fate, he has urged Mr Blunkett to intervene.

Keith Vaz
The MP has appealed for David Blunkett to intervene
Mr Vaz told BBC News Online: "I have had a number of letters from constituents who like this character Dan Ferreira and they are very worried about the newspaper reports that he might be removed from the country.

"I saw David Blunkett about other matters today and I raised his case.

"I said because of his position and his popularity, what is the chance of extending his stay here? Lots of actors have work permits.

"He said he will look into it."

Rivalry

To press the issue further, Mr Vaz has put down a Commons motion calling for Tahil to stay and be allowed to "complete his life on the programme".

"Otherwise, what's going to happen to his children on the programme? They are a very difficult lot," quipped Mr Vaz.

"They can't be taken into care because they are all over 21 - they will run amok."

In the soap, Tahil's character Dan Ferreira has been pursuing Albert Square resident Shirley Benson, but she has secretly been dating his son Ash.

The move is reminiscent of Prime Minister Tony Blair's pledge to order the then home secretary Jack Straw to look into the jailing of Coronation Street character Deirdre Rachid.




SEE ALSO:
EastEnders star Lordan to leave
15 Dec 03  |  Entertainment
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05 Dec 03  |  Entertainment
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