Actress Kierston Wareing has been secretly filming her new role on EastEnders since October, but it was only in tonight’s Christmas episode that viewers got to meet her character – Kirsty Branning, the wife that Max has been trying to keep a secret for a year.
Kirsty’s shock entrance was masterminded by a vengeful Derek (Jamie Foreman), who got in contact knowing that her appearance would turn Max’s world upside down. Max, for his part, was under the impression that he’d paid her off and she was out of his life forever. But now Kirsty’s in Walford and wreaking havoc – so will Max and Tanya’s relationship survive? And will Kirsty want to give up her husband? Here, Kierston Wareing reveals what it was like keeping her casting a secret for the best part of 2012 and lets us know some more about Kirsty:
When did you first get the call from EastEnders?
I knew about the role when I was filming in Morocco. I was checking my emails and I had one front my agent saying EastEnders want to see you when you get back. I went for a meeting with Lorraine Newman [executive producer] and Simon Ashdown [series consultant] and they offered me the role there and then and I was ecstatic. I was like, “yes, yes, yes”. So I knew about it from April, then everything went very quiet for months and, to be honest, I thought: are you sure you still want me?! Then they came back in August, just before I started filming, and then it all went very quickly. I always knew I'd be arriving on Christmas Day since I got the first call and I started filming at the end of October.
What was it like being on the set for the first time?
It was really weird doing my first scene as this was a show that I’ve grown up with as a child. Suddenly, I'm on the Square and its very surreal and I am seeing legendary characters like Sharon, who I have grown up watching. It's bizarre. And now I know her as Tish and we're friends. Then there was another moment, a few weeks later, when I was sitting in the Vic and June Brown [Dot] walked in and it feels like you have literally jumped into your own TV set.
Have you found it hard to keep it a secret?
Not really, but it got harder the nearer it got to the episodes going out. It's exciting and nerve-wracking and, of course, you would like to share it with people but the only people who knew about it apart from my agent, were my dad - and he didn't want to know the full ins and outs as he knew I have to keep it a secret - and my brother. So it has been hard. I’ve been staying at a local hotel while I've been filming and I've been asked by people - often the taxi driver when he’s dropped me off - what I am doing, and I’ve been telling them I’m temping in the office. Or when they see scripts I say I'm doing background work.
Do you like Kirsty as a character?
Yes I do and I love playing her as I feel there are a lot of places she can go. She has a lot of sides to her. We don't know much about her, so there is potential for a lot to come out. First of all I thought, ‘what a bitch’. But there is a side that hopefully comes across where people will feel sorry for her especially when you realise her situation. I do like her – she’s far from boring and I hope in the future there are lots more fight scenes, more bitchy arguments and more sobbing - a lot to get my teeth into!