From Friday 2nd December, Davood Ghadami will be playing Abanazar in Aladdin at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, with the pantomime running throughout December, and the last performance scheduled for 5:30pm on Monday 2nd January. In 2021, Davood started his role as regular character Eli Ebrahimi in Holby City, continuing in the show until it ended in March, and he had previously been in EastEnders for a number of years as Kush Kazemi from 2014 until his character was killed off last year. Davood was a contestant on Series 15 of Strictly Come Dancing as Nadiya Bychkova’s first celebrity partner, before being eliminated in the Quarter-Final, having performed the Argentine Tango in Musical’s Week to The Phantom of the Opera. Answering our questions, Davood told us about playing the villain in Aladdin later this year, his time as Kush Kazemi in EastEnders and being a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing in 2017.
It’s been announced you will be playing Abanazar in Aladdin at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre starting 2nd December, was there anything that drew you to the role and what can audiences expect from your portrayal?
I’ve always wanted to play a villain and characters don’t get much more evil than Abanazar! I don’t want to give too much away, but audiences can expect a particularly wicked bad guy this year… Also, I’ve heard great things about the Waterside Theatre and its audiences, as well as the quality of the panto there every year, and I wanted to be a part of it!
How do you think you’ll find the experience playing the villain in the pantomime?
It’s like no other role I’ve ever played, I’m expecting to have enormous amounts of fun with it. I’m just hoping I won’t enjoy it too much… I won’t get away with taking the character home with me – my wife and children won’t stand for it!
How will you prepare for the role and have you seen Aladdin as a pantomime previously?
I have never seen Aladdin in panto before so I won’t be influenced by any other performances. I am really excited to get into rehearsals and explore some ideas with the director.
What was it like meeting the rest of the cast for the first time and getting into costume?
We all hit it off straight away! The cast are an extremely talented bunch and I’m eager to get in the rehearsal room with them all! The costumes are magnificent and really help create the character. There is something powerful in wearing a cape, oversized jewellery and pointed shoulder pads!
Why would you recommend booking tickets to see the Aylesbury pantomime this Christmas?
Panto is the ultimate festive family event and Aladdin at the Aylesbury Waterside will be unmissable!
On screen, you joined the cast of Holby City last year as regular character Eli Ebrahimi, what was he like to play?
Eli was a wonderfully complex man and a great gift to play. Intelligent, hard-working, socially awkward and a man who has the power to fix people. In his practical work environment, he was efficient and pragmatic, but the glimpses into his personal life were always fraught with emotional conflict and were my favourite to explore and the side of him I miss the most.
What are some of your favourite memories from your time playing Kush Kazemi in EastEnders over the years?
My years at Enders have left me with so many good memories both on and off set! I have particularly fond memories of working with James Bye, who played Kush’s best friend Martin Fowler in the show. We were lucky enough to be able to explore that friendship which benefitted from the fact that James and I were true friends off set so filming was often quite seamless! In true EastEnders tradition, the characters weren’t always best pals and one storyline culminated in a big fight between the two characters which was filmed late at night, in the middle of Albert Square where we worked with the director and the stunt doubles creating a fight sequence that involved falling down a flight of stairs and throwing each other into cars. It was very exciting to work on something that required so much energy and trust and that served the storyline so realistically.
In 2017, you were a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing with your professional partner Nadiya Bychkova, how was the experience?
Strictly was a hugely intense experience full of highs and even some lows! Nadiya was a wonderful partner, and as it was her first year on the show, we were both riding the Strictly rollercoaster for the first time! Having no dance experience/ability meant she had a huge amount of work to do to whip me into shape each week, but she was always patient and the emphasis by the time we got to the live show was entirely on having fun. There are so many amazing people working on that show and it feels like a big family! The feeling of getting through to the next week after working so hard on the dance is like nothing else. I’m extremely grateful to Nadiya and the Strictly ‘family’ for having me on the show.
Do you have any favourite TV shows or films to watch and how do you like to spend your time away from acting?
I have quite eclectic taste in what I like to watch! I enjoy a drama like Peaky Blinders as much as a good Netflix documentary or a re-binge of The Office. I have two young daughters so I do find myself keeping up with the latest that Disney has to offer! Being with my family is by far my favourite use of time, but when I’m not with them, you’ll find me at the CrossFit gym!
Since starting your career as an actor, what are some of your stand-out highlights and what advice would you give a young actor starting in the industry?
Stepping foot on Albert Square for the first time and meeting the EastEnders cast was a huge highlight for me. It was a really warm welcome and the start of a very steep learning curve! There is nothing quite like a live audience though, and a major highlight has to be the first time I stepped foot on stage at my little local theatre in front an audience. I was playing Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and for the teenage me, it was a ‘lightbulb’ moment – I wanted acting to be my job!
The industry can be difficult to navigate and for any young actors starting out, I would advise persistence, resilience and to be prepared to take a few risks. Passion alone is not enough but it’s a good place to start!
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