Coronation Street star Bhavna Limbachia has spoken about her definitive exit from the saga.

Bhavna’s character, Rana Habeeb, was killed off during tonight’s (20th March) double-bill following the roof collapse at Underworld. Earlier this week, the factory staff decided to stage a sit-in at their workplace to protest against owner Carla’s plans to outsource their jobs, but the faulty roof gave way while Gina and Sally were putting up some banners to promote their cause.

Tonight’s episodes dealt with the aftermath of the collapse with Sally and her co-workers trapped in the rubble and at risk from a burst pipe that was leaking in the direction of a live power cable. As people arrived on the scene to help, this danger was averted, but those trapped were still at risk from more of the roof falling in. Fortunately, the trapped workers managed to make their way to safety without further major incident. However, the same can’t be said for poor Rana who had snuck into the factory to get her bag – en route to her wedding to Kate Connor and moments before the collapse.

As Kate waited for Rana at the church, she was horrified to receive a phone call from her wife-to-be explaining where she was and what had happened. Shortly after Kate arrived at the scene of the carnage, the rest of the roof fell in on poor Rana. Kate and Rana managed to snatch some time on the phone with Kate devastated as the grim-reality of what was happening hit home. Desperate to be with Rana, Kate snuck into the building to comfort her as she breathed her last.

Why do you feel that the only fitting ending for Rana and Kate’s relationship was for Rana to die?

When I told Kate Oates and Iain McLeod that I wanted to leave to try other things, it was my decision and my choice for Rana to die because it was the only fitting end to the character. Kate and Rana had fought so hard to be together and they had been through thick and thin together. I believe their love was so pure as two souls that there was no way that Rana was just going to have a change of heart, hop in a cab and leave. I felt that if they were to be separated, they had to be torn apart and it couldn’t have been their decision.

What were Rana’s final scenes like to film?

The crew have done an exceptional job with the set; a lot of time, effort and money has gone in to it so it was almost like a film set. The final scenes were hard, tough and emotional and I knew the final scenes were my final scenes as Rana so they were sentimental. Knowing it was the end for myself and for Rana, it helped bring out the truth and the emotion of the character in the scenes. They were probably the most challenging scenes I have ever done on Coronation Street but I am very grateful to have been given that opportunity because it is not every day you get to film such an epic storyline.

In those final moments, did Rana know she was going to die?

It was only when the second roof collapse happened that she knew. As a nurse, she knew there was no way out, she knew that she was going. When Kate tried everything in her power to get in to the factory office, Rana knew it was her last moments and the last thing she wanted to do was to upset Kate and for Kate to be frightened. She told Kate not to look at the rubble but to focus on her. Rana’s final wish was to be married to Kate so that’s what they did, they exchanged vows. All Rana has ever wanted was to be loved and to feel complete and whole and she thanked Kate for that. As soon as Rana felt content, she passed away.

How did you get in to Rana’s mindset for those scenes?

The physicality was hard because I was laid on a board on wheels and was wheeled in and out of the rubble and a lot was happening around set so it was important to focus and stay in the zone. It was tough at times because we filmed for four days under the rubble and on screen you will have seen it as minutes but it can take up to ten hours to film a few scenes. Faye and I were quite emotional knowing it was the last time we would be working together. We were in tears.

How did unwind after filming such high emotion?

It was finding a balance of being able to detach yourself emotionally from the scenes but almost stay in that frame of mind to go back the next day and film.

What do you think of this storyline?

I am so grateful to Coronation Street and the writers and the producers for trusting me with such a big storyline with so much weight. It’s the best exit I could have ever wished for and I really hope the viewers like it.

What has been your favourite thing about playing Rana?

I love that she’s flawed, she’s human, she makes a lot of mistakes, she gets scared and on the opposite end of the spectrum she’s a fun girl. She came on to the cobbles as this sassy, vivacious, flirtatious woman who used her sexuality to validate herself but it was great to unravel the character, strip away the layers and as the years went on, the viewers started to see that she was just trying to find out who she was.

Would you be friends with Rana?

Yes, I’d definitely love to be her friend, I think she is fun.

What are you most proud of about this storyline?

I’m proud to be an ally for the LGBT+ community. It wasn’t something that I knew enough about so when I was approached with this storyline, I felt it was important to educate myself about the LGBT+ community and that has changed me as a person. I am definitely a different person coming out of Coronation Street and I am very grateful to the show for educating me, for giving me the opportunities and for allowing me to grow both personally and professionally.

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