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EastEnders star was 'beaten up every day by skinheads'

PICTURED: Nitin Ganatra (Photo credit: ITV)

EASTENDERS STAR Nitin Ganatra has opened up about the racism he experienced growing up in 1970s-80s Britain.

The Kenyan-born actor, who plays Masood in the BBC soap, told ITV daytime talk show Loose Women about his experiences as a child where he was constantly "beaten up on a daily basis by skinheads".

"I'm a kid of the 70s and 80s and when we came over here as immigrants I lived in a corner shop. My mum was being spat at, my dad was being beaten up. I was being beaten up on a daily basis by skinheads and stuff," the 51-year-old actor recalled.

"We grew up with racism at school, not just by kids, maybe some of the teachers."

Ganatra said that "comfort eating was my thing" in his younger years because of what he faced outside his home.

"I was very big; I was probably obese by the time I was about 12," he explained. "I think if you've been bullied for your weight and your colour, you find ways of coping and food was a way."

Ganatra thanked one of his former teachers, Lynn Long, for helping him to become an actor. "I had a speech impediment at one point," he said. "I was so shy. She got me on stage and changed my life."

Ganatra is appearing in London opposite former Coronation Street star Les Dennis in the play End of the Pier, which tells the story of a comedian whose career ends after he is filmed telling racist jokes.

"In rehearsals we were talking about racism and I was sharing some stories," Ganatra told the Loose Women panel.

"I just happened to be walking home from the Tube station - I live in a nice, safe, middle class area - and a van pulls past, opens the window and shouts the most explicit, racist things that I hadn't heard for a while.

"I went back the next day [to rehearsals] and went, 'Guess what happened?!' with so much happiness! 'Look what happens - it still goes on'."

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