EastEnders revisits the connection between Stacey Fowler (Lacey Turner) and Max Branning (Jake Wood) as the Lothario starts a surprise affair with Ruby Allen (Louisa Lytton), sparking unexpected jealousy from his ex that threatens to wreck her marriage to Martin Fowler (James Bye).
The Fowlers are already falling apart thanks to Stacey’s feud with cousin Kat Moon (Jessie Wallace) over her siding with lover Kush Kazemi (Davood Ghadami) in the custody battle for little Arthur, but when Stace scraps a date night with her husband on Tuesday 23rd July to offer troubled Max – who is battling to keep granddaughter Abi – a shoulder to cry on, it riles Martin, who becomes resentful towards his wife’s ex.
“Max needs Stacey more than Martin at that precise moment, it’s as simple as that,” says Turner, who celebrated the birth of her first child, a baby girl, with husband Matt Kay on Friday 12th July. “Her and Martin are meant to be having this romantic night in, but Max is so desperate, she can’t just leave him.
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“Nobody knows Max better than Stacey, he’s clearly not coping without Abi. The characters have so much history, she can read him like a book. Seeing him struggling and at his lowest ebb, Stacey is drawn to help – she cares about Max, and always will.”
Of course, Martin (and viewers) suspects there could be more to it than friendly concern. Does Turner think that deep down, Mr Branning still has a special place in her alter ego’s heart?
“Stacey is really happy with Martin and knows her future is with him, but there will always be that connection to Max,” she ponders. “I think Stacey will always love him in some way, after everything they’ve been through she’ll always have his back to a certain extent.”
Another development set to reignite the old Stax spark is the hook up between Max and Stacey’s best mate Ruby, which begins on Thursday 25th July when Mrs Fowler finds them together at the Brannings’ – and is not sure what to think…
“She definitely didn’t see that one coming!” laughs Turner. “Stacey would never have put them together in a million years. I’m not sure Stacey knows how to feel about it, one of her oldest friends with the man she once loved. It’s a great twist!
“Max and Ruby have been through a lot over the years and have had huge challenges to overcome, so they have that in common. Personally I think they’re a good match, I don’t think Ruby would put up with Max’s games, she’s very independent and would give him a run for his money!”
Turner’s maternity leave is imminent, and the growing rift with Martin and surprising reaction to Max moving on feels very much like the show is paving the way for Stacey to depart the Square under something of a cloud.
What will finally drive her away? And is Max only using Ruby to make his ex-lover jealous?
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