EastEnders’ Taylor family crashed into Albert Square last summer in a cacophony of cackles and clashes, but the clan soon won viewers round as is evident in Danny Walters being shortlisted in the Best Newcomer category in this year’s National Television Awards for playing eldest son Keanu.
The likeable lad has struggled to find work to ease the Taylors’ financial woes, and has tried everything from nude life modelling to dangerous heists. The combination of youthful vigor and emotional vulnerability has made Keanu popular with the audience, with former Benidorm star Walters making the final shortlist in his category along with Corrie’s Rob Mallard (Daniel Osbourne), Emmerdale’s Ned Porteous (Joe Tate) and Hollyoaks’ Nathan Morris (Milo Entwistle).
We caught up with Walters to discuss his NTA hopes, his first year in Walford, and where on earth that heist money could be hiding…
How does it feel to be nominated as Best Newcomer?
It feels amazing! I’m shocked and surprised, I never thought I’d be nominated. I don’t think any actor takes a job just to win awards do they? It’s an honour and I’m very humbled.
What is it about Keanu and the Taylors the public have warmed to?
People can relate to what they go through and understand the struggles the family face on a daily basis, whether it’s money problems, to trying to find a job, to battling with people’s perceptions of them.
How has the reaction changed from when you first joined?
They were all so brash and had such big personalities we knew they’d be a bit Marmite – you’d either love them or hate them. Bernadette’s miscarriage storyline was a turning point and made the audience care for the characters, it showed we all had heart, love for each other and that we were human.
Was that a personal highlight for you?
Yes, but emotionally it was very hard. At the time we filmed it my brother had just told me he was going to be a dad for the first time, so the storyline suddenly became very close to home. I could relate to it as I had my brother’s baby on my mind and I knew I was going to become an uncle.
What else have you enjoyed filming?
Keanu being a nude life model was fun! Sometimes as an actor you have to jump in at the deep end… it was scary but I guess someone had to do it!
Keanu was a big part of Aidan’s heist, what was your favourite part of that plot?
Once we found out the money had gone missing it got very dark and edgy – the graveyard robbing scene, the stuff in the funeral parlour. There was a lot of tension and it was fun to play. To work with Patrick Begin, Danny Dyer, Richard Blackwood, Perry Fenwick and Steve McFadden… It was so good be in the company of those actors.
What can you tease about what’s coming up for Keanu?
The post-heist stuff continues. You will find out very soon who’s got the money, but all I can say is that it could be any one of the guys… and it could be anyone on the Square!
It’s definitely not Ben Mitchell…
Who knows? It could be a double twist!
How do you feel about your fellow nominees?
They are fantastic actors and all deserve to win, so the fact I’m in a category with those guys is great. They all work so hard, we all deserve it really.
Is there rivalry between the soaps?
I’m new to the genre but no, not really. If anyone’s got any bad beef about the show or about me and what I do then thumbs up to them, that’s their way! I think competition is good but as long as we are all telling fantastic stories that are relatable for the audience, that’s all you can ask.
Finally, why does EastEnders deserve to win Best Serial Drama this year?
There’s a buzz about the show right now. With John Yorke as our captain the stories on screen and coming up are so edgy and captivating. We’ve all come together and are really motivated and ambitious. Everyone here works tirelessly to put out fantastic television and entertain the viewers – EastEnders has its own identity, it’s been going for over 30 years and it’s as strong as it was from day one.
The National TV Awards is on ITV on Tuesday 23 January at 7.30pm. Click here to vote.
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