Max Branning’s murder trial will begin next week with his daughter Abi taking the stand as a key prosecution witness.
While viewers know that Max is innocent, it seems that Abi is determined to see her dad banged up. So is there any doubt in Abi’s mind as she enters the courtroom?
“Part of her does think that her dad couldn’t have done this, but Abi is very much in the frame as well. It looks bad for her, so she thinks it’s best just to believe that he’s guilty,” says actress Lorna Fitzgerald.
Abi has, of course, had a somewhat tumultuous childhood, the main cause of which has been Max’s continued infidelity. So is her courtroom testimony a bit of payback for those rough teenage years?
“There is a lot of built-up resentment there,” admits the actress. “And because Abi is now with Ben, the Mitchells have become her family unit. So she just kind of forgets about Max.”
But a reminder of Abi’s history as part of the Branning clan will come when Lauren makes a surprise reappearance in Walford and tries to talk her sister out of testifying. “Abi’s affronted by all that. She feels that Lauren can’t tell her what to do. And because Abi’s got the Mitchells behind her, she does start to get a bit cocky.”
But the big question is whether Lauren will get through to Abi. Will Abi damn her dad with her words or end up being his saviour?
“Well, when she takes the stand and looks Max in the eye, she does realise that this is her dad, someone she loves so much. So it’s really hard for her.
“What I will say is that the trial is so exciting – there are so many different stories and everyone is bringing their own baggage to it. It’s really good.”
As for Abi, it seems that giving evidence against her own father could just be the tip of the iceberg. The character has been treading a dark path for a while, what with the stalking of Lauren and the fact that she ended up killing her own pet dog. So has Fitzgerald been surprised by such plot twists?
“Yeah, some people have even been calling me ‘psycho’! I was surprised by it, actually. And I think it’s going to get even darker.”
With a statement like that, no wonder Max is looking so worried!
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