Hollyoaks' Nikki Sanderson says Maxine's lies hit a new low: "Why wouldn't you wear a ball gown to your own funeral?!"
Will the truth about her fake illness finally be revealed at her wake?
The web of deceit weaved by Hollyoaks' Maxine Kinsella (Nikki Sanderson) becomes more tangled than ever as her loving husband Damon Kinsella (Jacob Roberts) throws her a 'living funeral' on Wednesday 22nd August (E4 showing) believing she has only weeks to live, oblivious to the fact she is lying and in the grip of Munchausen's syndrome, a psychological disorder which drives people to pretend to be seriously ill so they can get attention and sympathy.
Max's audacious lie that she is dying of a non-existent spinal tumour could be blown by best friend Sienna Blake (Anna Passey), who has rumbled her secret and has begged her to come clean. "Maxine is worried as Sienna could tell people at any point and land her in deep trouble," says Sanderson. "If Brody was to find out Sienna knew, that could impact on their relationship so Maxine is actually semi-confident Sienna will keep quiet."
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By now addicted to the attention and affection her loved ones are showing thinking she is slipping away, the garish pre-death goodbye is yet another opportunity for Maxine to feel wanted. "The funeral is another event where she can be centre of attention. She can command a day that's all about her where she'll be told how wonderful and amazing she has been.
"Basically it's another excuse to get dressed up and feel like a million dollars, even though she's supposed to be dying. It takes place in the folly and the whole thing is very extravagant, she's sat on a throne which she adores and is wearing a ball gown - why wouldn't you wear a ball gown for your own funeral?!"
Why has Maxine developed Munchausen's syndrome?
Behind the audacious and blackly comic tone of the plot, which has seen seen Maxine attract the attention of sympathetic This Morning viewers who donated thousands upon hearing about her 'plight' (with presenter Alison Hammond playing along in a fun cameo as herself) lies the tragedy of the new Mrs Kinsella crumbling after years of emotional trauma.
Think about it, she was in an abusive marriage to Patrick Blake, discovered her second husband Adam Donovan was cheating on her and was murdered by his gangster father Glenn, who then manipulated her into bed before she teamed up with his enemies to bump him off… It's no wonder she's lost the plot and gone to such shocking lengths to keep nice guy Damon in her life.
"She knows what she's doing is wrong and feels guilty about lying," admits Sanderson. "It's hurting her loved ones but this is a compulsive thing within Maxine forcing her and manipulating her into deceit. Admitting the truth means admitting she's got a problem and she can't get out of it. She cannot stop herself."
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The event promises to be unmissable for all sorts of reasons, not least because Liberty Savage (Jessamy Stoddart) has composed one of her signature songs to perform as a tribute to her faking-it friend. "As we know, Liberty's songs have the greatest intentions of warmth and come from a fantastic place, but the lyrics don't necessarily correlate with the meaning behind it!" laughs the actress.
Fans can definitely expect a turning point in this brilliantly bonkers saga, but will it be Sienna blowing the secret? Damon admitting he's dipped into the crowd funded charity money to pay for the wedding and now the funeral? Perhaps Maxine can't live with her lie any longer and comes clean, risking the wrath of her family and friends?
Or will Dr Misbah Maalik (Harvey Virdi) break doctor/patient confidentiality and expose her patient's compulsive condition that's caused her to fabricate a terminal illness?
"The funeral ends in tears," teases Sanderson. "But not because of anyone dying – because something is revealed…"
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