Jake Wood on Strictly’s legacy, his break from EastEnders and why he’d love to go into the jungle

Max Branning is on trial because the man who plays him wanted a holiday from Walford...

You’re taking a break from EastEnders later this year. What are you going to do?
No solid plans, but I am available for work. So if anyone’s reading this who’d like to give me a job… 


Would you do another reality show – I’m a Celebrity... maybe?
Yeah, I do really like that show. And everyone I’ve spoken to who’s done it has said they really enjoyed it. I’m not squeamish – so eating strange stuff wouldn’t bother me.

Is the appeal of these shows to prove you’re nothing like your character, Max Branning?
In some ways, yes. But it would be a good holiday for the family as well, wouldn’t it? And the money would be nice. But I think the main appeal is that it’s a different kind of experience.

What did being in last year’s Strictly do for you?
Well, the main thing is that some people now call me “Jake” rather than “Max”. That’s been lovely.

When did you find out that Max would be arrested for Lucy’s murder?
I talked to our executive producer, Dominic Treadwell-Collins, around November last year about taking a break. So I’ve always known there was this plan. 

How do you like to unwind?
I do a bit of boxing with my mate Spencer Oliver. He’s a former European champion, so it’s a bit scary having him coming at you. I do it for general fitness, but I’m also a real boxing fan. I also run and I’m at the gym all the time. I don’t drink or smoke, so to relax I like to do something physical.

Has anybody left you starstruck?
I’m not really blown away by actors because I’ve seen the way it works behind the scenes. But some sports people, definitely. Dennis Bergkamp – I’m a big Arsenal fan. Thierry Henry, who’s a hero of mine, told me he knew who I was. I think he watches EastEnders

What show can’t you miss?
Orange Is the New Black on Netflix. Me and the wife [Alison Wood] are hooked. We’re halfway through the second season. With TV, we tend to binge-watch or use catch-up. Having kids [daughter Amber, ten, and son Buster, seven], it’s hard to watch stuff as it goes out. 

What do you watch with the kids?
They’re into the weirdest cartoons, like Adventure Time and Uncle Grandpa. They obviously make sense to them.


What’s your guilty pleasure?
Gator Boys on Animal Planet – it’s about a group of guys who have an alligator park in Florida. They go around wrestling and recapturing them. It’s good – really low rent!

What makes you switch off?
I’m not into slow Sunday-night period dramas. I’m not patient enough.

What programme would you bring back?
It Ain’t Half Hot Mum! I realise that’s a bit contentious, though – it was definitely of its time. I caught a bit of Are You Being Served? the other day. That’s still funny. Those shows remind you of being at home… you’ve just had your bath and you’re in front of the TV with a packet of sherbert.

So having more time at home was the reason for the break?
Yes, that was a big part of the decision. I’ll have done 987 episodes by the time I go. Max has had a very hectic nine years. So I think both he and I need this break. 


EastEnders is on BBC1 on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays