EastEnders star Jake Wood hopes alter ego Max Branning stays with girlfriend Ruby Allen (Louisa Lytton), despite his humiliation at her turning down his public proposal of marriage.
Speaking to RadioTimes.com, the actor revealed Max's misguided attempt to demonstrate his commitment to the glamorous club owner in Friday 22nd November's episode grew out of his insecurity at their age gap. Ruby is literally young enough to be his daughter, which has not gone unnoticed…
"Max has been mistaken for Ruby's dad which obviously didn't go down well," laughs the actor. "We've seen Max struggle with the age difference, he's bought himself some skinny jeans, a snazzy jumper and some Vans. He's very conscious of it and feeling his age a little bit.
"Ruby is young, dynamic and independent, and after a chat with his brother Jack he feels he needs to make a commitment before she runs off and finds interest elsewhere!"
Unfortunately, Max's romantic gesture didn't receive quite the reaction he hoped. "She just laughed at him! Max wanted to do it discreetly in the restaurant but Ian Beale got wind of it and it ended up being a massive deal. Everyone is suddenly aware of what's happening which means more pressure for Max.
"Ruby is honest, she explains she likes Max and wants to be with him but it's too soon to get married. She's being sensible but for Max's ego this is a real disaster. He's not used to rejection and does not take it well!"
The unlikely pairing has stabilised Wood's character after a tumultuous few years, and he attributes Max's newfound happiness to the sparky relationship with ex-lover Stacey Fowler's BFF. "She's been great for him and he's in a much better place these days. He's back on his feet after losing Abi and then the custody battle for baby Abi. Ruby is strong and keeps him on his toes."
Could all that be undone by his over-zealous proposal? "Max has been married four or five times now so it's no big deal to him, it's just like having a cup of tea! But Ruby is younger and never been married so it's more significant to her. As usual he's being impulsive, but she tries to make him realise it's not the right thing for them at this time.
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"I'm not sure where they'll end up after this. I hope they stay together for a while but this is a knock-back for Max. He is vulnerable about the age difference and wants to feel secure, and he's not very good on his own. Poor Max just needs a cuddle!"
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