EastEnders‘ Rainie Braning (Tanya Franks) is engaged to boyfriend Stuart Highway (Ricky Champ) after an unusual proposal involving a Dracula costume and some fake blood, but future brother-in-law Callum Highway put a dampener on the celebrations by pointing out she needs to divorce Max Branning first – hands up if you’d forgotten those two were even married?
Two years ago Max’s whirlwind wedding to his ex-junkie sister-in-law was scandalous news. Max had left Walford after the tragic death of daughter Abi Branning, who died saving her dad from a suicide attempt on the Queen Vic roof on Christmas Day 2017, but returned in April 2018 newly-spliced to second wife Tanya’s naughty sister.
The pair had never seen eye-to-eye and eyebrows were raised – but the marriage turned out to be a sham, as Max had paid Rainie to pose as his wife to convince the authorities to give him custody of granddaughter Abi, born just before her mother lost her life. Once Max got what he wanted the deal was selfish Rainie would scurry off with her cash.
Predictably the financial arrangement grew complicated when the ‘couple’ genuinely fell for each other, and flaky former prostitute Rainie admitted she saw baby Abi as her only chance at parenthood and stability.
It was a far from smooth transition from fakery to a becoming a proper item and during one of many bust-ups with Max as to the confusing status of their relationship, lonely Rainie turned to Jack for comfort and they slept together.
By now playing happy families with his ‘missus’, Max awaited the outcome of the custody hearing but meddling mother-in-law Cora Cross got wind of her daughter’s dalliance with his handsome sibling and spilt the beans – but Max didn’t seem to mind and all was forgiven as he and Rainie finally got legal rights to baby Abi in November 2018.
After all that Max then appeared to quickly regret being with Rainie and three months later took off on vacation with Jack and their various kids to France, leaving his beloved behind to run the car lot business – which he still owned at the time.
Jack came home without Max in March 2019 and told Rainie her hubby had met someone else on holiday and she was unceremoniously dumped. Charming! By the time Max returned him and Rainie had fizzled out, she moved on to Stuart (their eyes met in the romantic setting of an AA meeting) while he embarked on an icky age-gap romance with Ruby Allen.
So now Rainie needs to ask Max to grant her a divorce so she can become Mrs Highway – seeing as they’ve barely spoken in well over a year we’d be surprised if he even remembers they were still officially hitched, or the reasons why…