He first stepped onto the cobbles of Coronation Street in 2014 as part of the hit soap’s first Muslim family, playing Zeedan Nazir.
Now Manchester-born actor Qasim Akhtar is set to reprise his role after a three-year break to visit his grandmother Yasmeen Nazir (Shelley King) for her birthday.
Drama will quickly unfold for the talented star when he miraculously produces £50,000 to help sister Alya, who has fallen victim to a scam and been robbed of the entire contents of Speed Daal’s bank account.
The star also ruffles feathers after he becomes embroiled in Alya’s love life.
But what do we know about the man behind Zeedan’s character off the cobbles?
Ahead of his highly anticipated return to Manchester’s most famous street, let’s take a look at the star’s off-screen antics and how he spent his years away from the famous soap.
Ambition beyond the cobbles
The young star was already an accomplished actor before joining Coronation Street, having appeared in shows including Waterloo Road, Doctors and, most famously, as Chesney Karib in hit show Shameless.
After four years on Coronation Street, Qasim revealed he wanted to try his hand at other projects, revealing: “I’ve always been really ambitious."
Qasim explained: “I still have that fire and hunger in my belly where I want to explore and do other projects. Because I am seeing so much more diversity in shows nowadays and the pressure that shows have got to introduce more Asian and black actors into things, I feel like it's a great time for me to be out there.”
Though the star did not appear in anything notable during his break, he admits the time off “helped [him] grow as an actor. I feel refreshed and better able to do the job.”
Not much is known about the 30-year-old’ private life.
He attended Parrs Wood High School in Didsbury and Cheadle and Marple Sixth Form College and has not publicly discussed his relationship status.
Near death experience
In April 2019, the actor shocked fans by revealing he had been involved in an almost-deadly quad biking accident.
Taking to his Instagram page, Qasim shared a picture from his hospital bed at the Manchester Royal Infirmary before documenting his many injuries.
He wrote: "Took a major L [lose] yesterday. Had an accident on the quad bike. Split my lower abdominal, bruised lung, fractured arm and a couple deep wounds.”
He went on to explain how wearing a helmet had saved his life, writing: "I urge people riding quads to wear helmets cos even though legally you don’t need too, that saved me from a fatal injury for real."
Freak garden accident
This wasn’t the first injury the star has endured.
In 2016, accident-prone Qasim was training on his patio and passed out, injuring his head when he fell.
He posted a gory picture of his bloody right eye on Instagram with the caption: "So I've just got out of AnE. Training in the garden earlier had a sudden rush of blood to my head an hit the stone deck face first after blacking out.
"I look like Mike Tyson in his prime hit me with a right hook. Then maybe bit my face.”
After his four-year hiatus from Weatherfield, Qasim has finally agreed to return to his role after initially declining an opportunity from show producers.
"I had been asked back earlier but, although I was very grateful for the offer, I wasn't ready," he revealed.
"I was doing things that I had previously had no time to do and it helped me find myself a bit.
Return to Weatherfield
Qasim has admitted it is "amazing" to return to the cobbles, as he's having a "great time and loving every minute of being back".
He said: "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."
Coronation Street airs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on ITV
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