Shona McGarty: Everything you need to know

From Eastenders’ Albert Square to her hidden singing talent, here’s everything you need to know about soap star, Shona McGarty

Shona McGarty in red dress at  The Pride of Ireland Awards 2015

by Cate Sutherland |
Published on

Early life and family

Shona Bernadette McGarty was born on 14 October 1991 in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire.

She attended St. Teresa's Primary RC School and Loreto College, St Albans.

Shona started her career in musical theatre with an amateur group named Traffic Lights. She later joined the Young Stars drama school where she played lead roles in Alice in Wonderland and the Wizard of Oz.


Shona Mcgarty in character as Whitney Dean in Eastenders 
Shona Mcgarty in character as Whitney Dean in Eastenders

Shona joined EastEnders in 2008 and has since played Whitney Dean, the troubled adoptive daughter of Bianca Jackson (Patsy Palmer).

Whitney is the oldest of Bianca’s four children, and her storylines have revolved around her fractured family life, her sexual abuse by Bianca’s partner Tony King (Chris Coghill) and her sexual exploitation by Rob Grayson (Jody Latham).

She was nominated for Best Newcomer at the British Soap Awards in 2009 and received praise for the storyline involving her character’s sexual abuse.

Whitney’s sexual abuse as a child marked the first time any UK soap had introduced the subject. Although the subject was researched and developed with advice and approval by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, the BBC still received over 200 complaints by members of the public, as it was deemed “horrifying” and “disturbing”.

In 2015, Shona ranked #44 in The 100 Greatest EastEnders (1985) Characters of All Time for her portrayal of Whitney.

Shona’s singing talents were showcased at the Henley Festival last July where she performed with the Philharmonic Orchestra. Fabio D’Andrea and drummer Troy Miller (who worked with the late Amy Winehouse) composed the classical set.

Shona said: "I’d love to combine music and EastEnders – I reckon all the singers should do a big musical thing for charity – me, Jessie, Rita Simons (Roxy) Sam Womack (Ronnie), Shane Ritchie (Alfie) and Jamie Borthwick (Jay). We all love singing. Jamie loves all the older stuff like me from the Rat Pack era. He’s got a brilliant voice!"

And more recently, it was reported that Shona has apparently been writing and recording songs with Swedish singer Axel Jansson.


Shona was caught up in a revenge porn saga at the end of 2015. She contacted the police when a man attempted to sell humiliating photographs of the actress when she was younger.

A source close to Shona told The Sunday People she was extremely upset by the threat to expose her sex life: “The images date from a number of years ago and were really only ever intended as harmless fun, but now somebody is trying to make it seem like a sleazy scandal.

“She’s determined to do whatever necessary to prevent the circulation of these intimate pics.

“It’s a good thing that a law has now been introduced to prevent this sort of thing.”

Back in 2012, the BBC suspended Shona “for repeatedly being late.” Commenting on her tardiness last year, Shona said: “Being suspended made me realise how lucky I am to be in such a loved show. I can say I’ve really learned my lesson.

“I’m just going to stay in from now on instead of going out all the time and I’m going to try to be good.

“I think I’ll buy a big alarm clock with bells on so I’m never late again.

“It’s like a massive family at EastEnders and everyone supports each other.”


Shona was in a relationship with former EastEnders co-star, Matt Lapinskas, until February 2013. She ended their 18-month relationship when it was revealed Matt cheated on her with his Dancing On Ice partner, Brianne Delcourt.

Shona has been in a relationship with electrician and Projekt Weekend member, Ryan Wilkins, since April of the same year. According to a friend, Shona and Ryan “bonded over their love of music, as she also sings and would love to be a recording artist.”

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