Laila Rouass

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Laila Rouass
Born Laila Abdesselam Rouass
(1971-06-22) 22 June 1971 (age 44)
Stepney, London, England, UK
Nationality British
Ethnicity Moroccan-Indian
Years active 1999-present
Television Footballers' Wives
Strictly Come Dancing
Holby City
The Sarah Jane Adventures
Spouse(s) Abselam Rouass (1990–2003)
Partner(s) Nasa Khan (2005–2008)
James Petrie (2010–2011)
Ronnie O'Sullivan (2012-)
Children 1

Laila Abdesselam Rouass (born 22 June 1971)[1] is a British actress. She is best known for her portrayals of Amber Gates in Footballers' Wives (2004–2006) and Sahira Shah in Holby City (2011–12). She has also starred in Primeval and Spooks and been a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing, in which she finished fourth.

Early life[edit]

Rouass was born in Stepney, London to a Moroccan father and an Indian mother.[2]


Rouass worked as a VJ on Channel V in India in the 1990s.[3] While on Channel V, she appeared in a music video for the band Colour Blind, directed by the then creative head of the channel, Shamin Desai.[4]

After moving back to the UK, Rouass became famous for playing the role of Bollywood actress Amber Gates in the cult ITV1 series Footballers' Wives between 2004 and 2006 and, albeit briefly, on the ITV2 spin-off series Footballers' Wives: Extra Time. She also played recurring roles on the British soaps Family Affairs and Hollyoaks,[5] as well as appearing in episodes of I Dream, Casualty and Meet the Magoons. She starred alongside Meera Syal in the television adaptation of Syal's novel, Life Isn't All Ha Ha Hee Hee.

Rouass was ranked No.87 and No.69 on FHM 100 Sexiest Women in the World 2004 and FHM 100 Sexiest Women in the World 2005 respectively.

In 2009 she appeared as Egyptologist Sarah Page in the third series of the ITV science-fiction series Primeval. She left the show when location of filming was changed to Dublin, for series four and five, saying it would be hard to continue participating as she was a single parent.[6]

In spring of 2010, Rouass announced that she will be making a film about Leila Khaled, who led the hijacking of a flight from Rome to Athens in 1969. Rouass stated she had funding for the film.[7]

She played Maya Lahan, a regular character introduced in the ninth series of BBC One drama Spooks which broadcast from September 2010.[8] She guest starred in The Sarah Jane Adventures in October 2010.[9] Rouass then joined the cast of the BBC medical drama Holby City, appearing from February 2011 as registrar Sahira Shah.[10] She left Holby City on 17 April 2012, after just 14 months on the show, to take a break to spend time with her family. The door has been left open for her to return.[citation needed]

She is also currently one of the presenters of "The Channel 4 TV Book Club". [11]

Strictly Come Dancing[edit]

She participated in the seventh series of Strictly Come Dancing, a BBC One reality show, paired with professional dancer Anton Du Beke, and alongside Footballers' Wives co-star Zöe Lucker. Controversy arose when Du Beke said that Rouass looked "like a Paki" after applying spray tan; he subsequently apologised for the gaffe.[12]

The pair made it to the last four before being voted off the show on 6 December. She failed to show up for the final on 19 December to reprise her partnership with Anton Du Beke. The show's host, Bruce Forsyth, offered no reason for her absence although he did do so for the other missing celebrity, Phil Tufnell, who had influenza.[citation needed]

Film career[edit]

Rouass' first film was City of Dreams produced by Feroze Nadiawala, in which she starred opposite Lisa Ray and Saeed Jaffery.[5][13] During the years that she was based in India, early in her career, she acted in some Indian films, Aditya Bhattacharya's Indo-Italian Senso unico (1999) and Dev Benegal's Split Wide Open (1999).

In 2000, Rouass starred in Jag Mhundra's controversial film, Bawandar (English title; The Sand Storm),[14] about revenge rapes in Rajasthan,[15] and she made her English-language film debut in 2002 with a small role in The Four Feathers opposite Heath Ledger.[5]

She starred in The Hunt Feast (2004),[16] and in 2006 she was cast in Aditya Raj Kapoor's film Don't Stop Dreaming.[17]

Rouass also appeared in the independent British film Shoot on Sight (2007) opposite Brian Cox, Om Puri and Sadie Frost, Freebird (2008) and in the New Zealand funded picture Apron Strings (2008).[18]

Personal life[edit]

In 1990, Rouass married Abdeslam Rouass in Tower Hamlets, London.[citation needed] They divorced in 2003.[19] She went through a religious ceremony in 2005 with Nasir Khan, a businessman and millionaire owner of the Accessory People retail chain and Asian Woman Magazine (AIM Ltd), however the two never legally married.[1] In October 2006, Rouass saw a doctor regarding back pains only to find she was six months pregnant. She and Khan split briefly during the pregnancy and then reconciled.[20] She gave birth to a daughter, Inez, in February 2007.[21] She and Khan separated again in 2008,[22] after which Rouass raised her daughter by herself. Khan was later jailed in 2011 for VAT Missing trader fraud. In February 2013, she became engaged to professional snooker player Ronnie O'Sullivan, with whom she had been in a relationship since early 2012.[23]


Year Film Role Notes
1999 Senso unico Yasmine
Split Wide Open Nandita
2000 Bawandar Amy
2001 Family Affairs Tanya Ayuba TV series
2002 The Four Feathers Maya
The Comedy Lab TV series (1 episode: "Meet the Mangoons")
Casualty Mandy Kellaway TV series (1 episode: "You're Going Home in the Back of an Ambulance")
2003 Two Minutes Sonita Short
Hollyoaks Dale Jackson TV series
2004 I Dream Lollie Das TV series (1 episode: "Toon in Love")
Footballers' Wives Amber Gates TV series (22 episodes: 2004-2006)
2005 Life Isn't All Ha Ha Hee Hee Tania TV series
Footballers' Wive$: Extra Time Amber Gates TV series (3 episodes)
Meet the Mangoons Anita TV series (1 episode: "Stairway to Havan")
2006 Casualty Gina Marshall TV series (1 episode: "All Through the Night")
2007 Shoot on Sight Ruby Kaur
2008 Freebird Lucinda
Apron Strings Anita
2009 Primeval Sarah Page TV series (10 episodes)
2010 The Sarah Jane Adventures Colonel Tia Karim TV series (2 episodes)
Spooks Maya Lahan TV series (7 episodes)
2011-2012 Holby City Sahira Shah TV series (50 episodes)
2011 Conan the Barbarian Fialla, Conan's Mother Film
2011 Sadie J Maddy TV series
2015 The Royals" Deputy Prime Minister Rani TV series
2016 Stella Maria TV series


  1. ^ a b "Rouass fibbed about her age and faked marriage to millionaire". News of the World. News Group Newspapers. 26 September 2009. Retrieved 7 March 2011. 
  2. ^'m+really+a+good+girl!%3B+Footballers'+Wives+star+Laila...-a0113499742
  3. ^ "The Language of Fashion". Outlook. India: The Outlook Group. 19 June 1996. Retrieved 7 March 2011. 
  4. ^ Joshi, Namrata (24 April 2000). "Givin' It A Good Shot". Outlook. India: The Outlook Group. Retrieved 7 March 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c "Hollyoaks - Laila Rouass". Channel 4. 7 March 2003. Archived from the original on 14 July 2007. Retrieved 7 March 2011. 
  6. ^ Kilkelly, Daniel (12 May 2010). "Laila Rouass explains 'Primeval' exit". Digital Spy. Hachette Filipacchi UK. Retrieved 7 March 2011. 
  7. ^ Walker, Tim (10 March 2010). "Footballers' Wives star Laila Rouass films life of terrorist Leila Khaled". The Daily Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 7 March 2011. 
  8. ^ Wightman, Catriona (16 September 2010). "'Spooks' - Meet The Newbies: Laila Rouass". Digital Spy. Hachette Filipacchi UK. Retrieved 7 March 2010. 
  9. ^ "The Sarah Jane Adventures – Death Of The Doctor". BBC Online. Retrieved 7 March 2011. 
  10. ^ Kilkelly, Daniel (7 November 2010). "Laila Rouass joins 'Holby City'". Digital Spy. Hachette Filipacchi UK. Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  11. ^ The TV Book Club - Presenters - Laila Rouass - Channel 4
  12. ^ Conlan, Tara (5 October 2009). "Strictly Come Dancing: BBC receives scores of complaints over racist remark". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved 7 March 2011. 
  13. ^ Sehgal, Nutan (23 August 2001). "Wisecracking their way to Bollywood". The Tribune. Chandigarh, India: The Tribune Trust. Retrieved 7 March 2011. 
  14. ^ "Sandstorm". RealNetworks. Retrieved 7 March 2011. 
  15. ^ Marks, Loma-Ann (16 July 2008). "Laila Rouass". Open. Open Magazine Ltd. Retrieved 7 March 2011. 
  16. ^ "Hunt Feast shooting in Syria with Iraq theme". M21 Editions. 2004. Retrieved 7 March 2011. 
  17. ^ "Suniel Shetty's films incl. new projects - in chronological order". Retrieved 7 March 2011.  External link in |work= (help)
  18. ^ "Laila Rouass". Channel 4. 17 December 2010. Retrieved 8 March 2011. 
  19. ^ Cummins, Fiona (11 February 2004). "My Secret Sexless Marriage; Footballers' Wives Sensation". Daily Mirror. Trinity Mirror. Retrieved 8 March 2011. 
  20. ^ McGowan, Eve (13 May 2007). "Westlife's Kian says I do to barn; Hothouse". Mail on Sunday. Associated Newspapers. Retrieved 8 March 2011. 
  21. ^ Hardy, Frances (21 November 2009). "Strictly Come Dancing's Laila Rouass: 'Anton's dance steps keep me awake at night'". Daily Mail. Associated Newspapers. Retrieved 7 March 2011. 
  22. ^ Dorrian, Gareth (7 September 2008). "TV Laila boots out cheating hubby". The People. Trinity Mirror. Retrieved 8 March 2011. 
  23. ^ "Snooker star Ronnie rockets to happiness after proposing to Laila Rouass". Hello! Magazine. 4 February 2013. Retrieved 22 August 2013. 

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