EastEnders has aired Lauren Branning’s final scenes, as the character left without boyfriend Josh Hemmings while mum Tanya returned for little sister Abi’s funeral.
As Jacqueline Jossa departed the cast, Jo Joyner’s surprise reappearance as Tanya was brief, as the grieving parent was too gripped by grief to get out of the car.
The emotional episode saw the Brannings at odds as Max struggled to accept he was banned from his daughter’s funeral by the family, receiving a vicious dressing down from mother-in-law Cora Cross as the hearse passed through the Square.
During the service, Jack went to check on Abi’s baby girl in hospital and found a surprisingly calm Max with his grandchild, announcing he had just registered her birth.
After the funeral, Max came to the crematorium and said his own private farewell at his daughter’s coffin.
Lauren found her father and the pair had a final, tearful hug as she left for Liverpool with son Louie, but decided at the last minute to end her relationship with Josh and start a new life away from Walford as a single mum.
As the locals let off white balloons in Abi’s memory from the Square gardens while her wake took place in the Vic, it was revealed Max had named Abi’s baby after her mother, symbolising his promise to himself and the family to atone for his past mistakes…
Jossa joined the cast as Lauren in 2010, replacing original actress Madeleine Duggan who arrived with the rest of the Brannings in 2006. It was announced last September Jossa and Lorna Fitzgerald (Abi) would be written out in a dramatic storyline, culminating in Max’s suicide attempt on Christmas Day that saw Lauren and pregnant Abi fall from the roof of the Queen Vic in trying to stop their dad from jumping. Lauren survived but Abi subsequently died in hospital after giving birth.
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