Coronation Street: Why has Qasim Akhtar returned as Zeedan Nazir?

Qasim was first introduced to Coronation Street fans as Zeedan in 2014 and he was the centre of some hard-hitting storylines. In 2018, the actor stepped down from his role on the ITV soap and his character has been mentioned several times by his sister, Alya Nazir (Sair Khan), and grandmother Yasmeen Nazir (Shelley King). Upcoming scenes will see the prodigal son return to the cobbles but not everything is as it seems as he harbours some dark secrets. has everything you need to know about why Qasim has returned.

Why did Qasim Akhtar leave Coronation Street?

Qasim’s original exit from the weeknight serial drama came when his character discovered his wife, Rana Habeeb (Bhavna Limbachia), was having an affair with Kate Connor (Faye Brookes).

After four years, the actor decided it was time to pursue new acting opportunities beyond the cobbles after staying on for 12 months more than he had expected to.

“I’ve always been really ambitious and I still have that fire and hunger in my belly where I want to explore and do other projects,” he explained.

“It was a hard decision for me to make because I became really comfortable here, but I thought to myself, ‘I would rather go away from the show, try to prosper and do different things’.”

An ITV spokesperson said at the time of the actor’s departure: “Qasim is a talented actor who has been involved in some great storylines.

“We wish him every success for the future,” they continued and the door was left open for the character to return.

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Why has Qasim Akhtar returned to Coronation Street as Zeedan Nazir?

Ahead of making his return this autumn, Qasim had been asked by bosses to return to the show following a hiatus.

The actor explained: “I had been asked back earlier but, although I was very grateful for the offer, I wasn’t ready.

“I was doing things that I had previously had no time to do and it helped me find myself a bit.

“I always felt as though I would love to return at some point and when they presented the storyline for Zeedan’s return to me I felt really invested in it straight away.

“The time felt right, I had kept in touch with my on-screen family and Shelley [King] kept asking me to come back, and I am thrilled to be here.”

I felt really invested in it

Qasim Akhtar

The actress who plays Yasmeen, Shelley, and the soap star who plays Alya, Sair, were fundamental behind Qasim returning.

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, however, he will have to adhere to new social distancing guidelines on set.

His character Zeedan will feature heavily in scenes with the pair as the Nazir family finds itself in financial turmoil.

He will also want to reunite with some of his friends on the cobbles, such as his former love interest, Leanne Battersby (Jane Danson).

It’s not yet been revealed whether or not bosses are planning on introducing Zeedan’s wife or if she will be mentioned in passing.

Viewers have been reacting to the news of Qasim’s return to the show, with viewer Rob Hall writing on Twitter: “Hope he’s got a good excuse for not visiting his Gran after her ordeal with Geoff [Metcalfe], when she got locked up, during her court case or even after her heart attack.”

The Conversation Street podcast account posted: “Oh, that’s great news! Nice to hear the Nazirs are being built up again, though I’ll be interested to hear Zee’s excuse for staying away during the Geoff ordeal! Welcome back, Qasim.”

Kitty Kat added: “Ooh this was a surprise! Looking forward to seeing how this storyline pans out.”

Fan of the show Claire remarked: “Ooh always liked Zeedan it’ll be nice to see him back,” with Matthew sharing: “I can’t believe it’s been three years since he left. It will be nice to have him back though.”

Has Zeedan Nazir changed?

Following the loss of his father, Kal Nazir (Jimi Mistry), in 2015, viewers already saw a change in Zeedan before he left.

The character has since got married but when he returns to the cobbles, the troubled soul has adopted a much darker tone.

Qasim said: “I discussed it with Iain [MacLeod] our producer and they have definitely got the character as a more mature, more savvy and on the ball type of guy.”

The actor described his alter-ego’s transition as growing from “a boy into a man” and as such, he has to take on more adult drama.

Next week, Zeedan will be attacked after getting his hands on a huge sum of money and it seems he is going to bring more drama to the Nazirs’ door.

Coronation Street airs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 7:30pm and 8:30pm on ITV. An extra, hour-long episode will air on Thursday this week at 8pm.

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