EastEnders’ Max Branning is prepared to do anything to win custody of grandchild Abi. Desperate to make amends for causing her mum, his daughter, Abi’s death he’s entered into a sham marriage with her ex-drug addict prostitute auntie Rainie who he’s paying to pose as his wife hoping to convince the courts he can provide a stable upbringing and a loving environment for a baby.
So far the only one contesting the custody case is Abi’s gobby great-grandma Cora Cross, described by Max as “112 years old with a personality disorder.” Lying, cheating, borderline sociopath Max bringing up the kid is a frankly ludicrous prospect, and there are numerous other possible parental figures far more suited to the job, many of which are actually related to the little girl – but seem strangely happy to sit back and take no interest in her welfare.
Isn’t it time one of these 10 stepped up to stop Max ruining this child’s life?
Only recently did we get a cursory mention of why Tanya hasn’t thrown her hat in the ring to get her granddaughter away from her evil ex, with Stacey chucking in a clunky explanatory line about Abi Senior’s mum being “unwell” – is she still in that funeral car she was too gripped by grief to get out of back in January? Earth mother Tan may have had her moments of madness (she tried to bury Max alive, but can you blame her?) but would she really allow her former husband and skanky sister to do this? You’d think she’d sniff the sham marriage scam all the way from Exeter.
Questions as to why Abi’s big sister isn’t bothered about her niece’s welfare also lead us to wonder where in the world she’s actually meant to be. Last seen defiantly hobbling out of the cemetery after her sibling’s funeral with son Louie and no luggage, having silently dumped boyfriend Josh Hemmings and turned her back on their new life together up north for no apparent reason, perhaps the single mum took a wrong turn outside the church and is still struggling on crutches? Does she even know what her dad’s up to?
Nothing matters to Ian more than family… except when it comes to his orphaned stepgrandchild, the daughter of his dead stepson Steven, who he’s shown no interest in whatsoever. He made more fuss about surly stepdaughter Cindy Jnr’s baby Beth who he wanted to adopt for all of five minutes, yet he’s barely acknowledged his link to little Abs. Has Ian forgotten Max killed Steven? Doesn’t he feel a shred of responsibility to that poor innocent child destined to be raised by one of the most dishonest men in Walford?
Max left Jane to die in a burning building and threatened her family when she discovered his nefarious scheme to destroy Albert Square (or at least fast-track some planning permission for luxury flats). But with all that behind them, it would make for a juicy plot if Ian’s former other half, also Abi’s stepgranny, took on the man who tried to kill her in yet another bid to fill the void of parenthood. Although she did adopt Bobby who grew up to murder his own sister, then covered up the crime and lied to everyone – which is what started the Branning/Beale bad blood in the first place. Next!
Jay Brown & Ben Mitchell
Those boys were as good as family to tragic Abs, and both romanced her at different times (and at various stages of Ben being in the closet). Since Harry Reid’s exit we’ve deeply missed the Jay and Ben double act, so how about Jay calls his surrogate sibling back to Blighty (surely the whole who’s-got-the-heist-money nonsense is dealt with now? Please say it is) and they put in a baby custody bid, My Two Dads style, for their old mate. A thoroughly modern co-parenting scenario we reckon Abi herself would approve of, and we’d love to watch.
Joining Ian and Jane among the ranks of Beales with forgotten links to the baby girl, golden boy Peter could clean up his act (having spiralled into drinking and gambling habits according to sibling Steven, who could’ve made it up as he was so jealous of him), come home (possibly recast as Ben Hardy’s busy playing Roger Taylor in the upcoming Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody) and whisk his half-niece to a better life in New Zealand.
Whitney Carter & Halfway
Admittedly this is stretching it a bit but Whitney is very vaguely related to Abi through being the sort-of stepdaughter to the kiddy’s auntie Bianca Butcher. All Whit wants is a family of her own seeing as she gets shunted around different clans every few years (is she a Butcher? A Carter? A Slater? What week is it?) so why not have her and lovable loser Halfway cement their sweet romance by adopting a baby? It would give the girl something to do other than be Stacey’s live-in babysitter.
The pied piper of Walford has several kids in his charge already, so what difference would another one make? The fact he’s supporting Max’s application is odd considering the horrible history between the brothers, isn’t it more dramatic to have them at each others’ throats? If he ended up with Abi he’d definitely need Norwegian nanny Ingrid back to help out. Come to think of it, who’s looking after the single dad’s brood now? Anyone got Ingrid’s number?
Visit our dedicated EastEnders page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers.
Sign up to the Radio Times newsletter for the latest TV and entertainment news