EastEnders fans can expect Max Branning to be altered by his experiences in prison when they see him return to Albert Square this Christmas.
“He’s a changed character,” says actor Jake Wood. “It was interesting for me to see those changes – he’s not the same man as when he left. And I think the viewers will be surprised and excited about that. The reaction he gets will be interesting”
Max will make his comeback on Christmas Day, with the big question being whether he’ll now be seeking revenge on the Beales after they framed him for killing Lucy.
Max did, of course, end up doing time for a crime actually committed by Bobby – so will he be able to forgive Ian and Jane for what they did to him?
“If he’s going to live on that Square, they have to come to some sort of understanding, put it that way. It’s up to Max whether he forgives them or not. He’s spent all that time in prison as a result of them lying in court. But it depends how Max feels when he gets back.”
As Christmas week progresses, loyalties look set to be tested as Max attempts to build bridges. After all, daughter Lauren has been living with the very people that got Max banged up. So what will his relationship with Lauren and Abi be like at this point?
“A little bit fractured,” says Wood. “But, as it turns out, things are better between Lauren and Max than they are with Abi. “I think Lauren will be more pleased to see him, but hopefully Abi will come around. As I say, Max is a changed character coming back, so hopefully the girls will see that.”
Having been away from Walford for a year now (barring a fleeting cameo back in July), Wood himself must have noticed some differences, not just in Max but in the show itself.
Since taking time off, EastEnders has had a change of leadership, with Sean O’Connor having succeeded Dominic Treadwell-Collins as executive producer.
So does he feel that he’s come back to a different show? “There are always slight differences when there’s a change of boss. I think it is really exciting that we’ve got Sean. I really like both him and his ideas for the future.
“I think the show is changing. I saw a couple of episodes last week and I think the whole feel of it is changing. The way it looks was sort of more filmic and beautifully lit and there are really good positive changes ahead. It seems to be more character based, which as far as I’m concerned as an actor, is when EastEnders is at its best.”
You can watch a 60-second rundown of next week’s episodes of EastEnders below.
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