CORONATION Street's Bhavna Limbachia has revealed it was her decision to kill off Rana Habeeb – as the soap suffers a backlash over her death.
The actress – who has played Rana for three years on the ITV soap – has defended the decision to have Rana die in fiance Kate's arms as the "only fitting end" for her, The Sun Online's Soap Bubble can reveal.
Speaking after the emotional scenes went out, she said: "When I told Kate Oates and Iain McLeod that I wanted to leave the show 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. The only way to go was if Rana were to die. Rana would never leave Kate, ever."
The soap is suffering from a huge backlash from viewers who say it is the latest in the long time of LGBT+ couples to have been left in tatters by traumatic events.
She added: "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."
And despite the backlash from some viewers about a gay couple being torn apart by Rana's death, Bhavna insisted she is an ally to the LGBT+ community.
She said: "I am 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 Coronation Street for educating me, for giving me the opportunities and for allowing me to grow both personally and professionally."
Bhavna also explained Rana's decision to insist Kate marry her as she lay dying, in scenes that left viewers sobbing across the country.
"As a nurse, she knew there was no way out, she knew that she was going," she said.
"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."
But the scenes weren't easy to film, holding that amount of emotion and trauma for almost five days straight filming.
Bhavna added: "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."
And she couldn't break out of the emotion after filming the scenes.
She said: "It was difficult because I never tried to snap out of character when I got home.
"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."
But she did pay tribute to the crew on the show that made it such a brilliant final storyline for her and Rana.
"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," she added.
"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 stuck under rubble and film such an epic storyline."
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