- Max Branning
Max Branning Max Branning in 2010 EastEnders character Portrayed by Jake Wood Introduced by Kate Harwood Duration 2006— First appearance 27 June 2006 Classification Present; regular Spin-off appearances EastEnders: Last Tango in Walford (2010) Profile Date of birth 10 May 1969 Occupation Insurance salesman (until 2009)
Car salesman (since 2010)
Family Family Branning Wife Rachel Branning (1987–93)
Tanya Cross (1994–2010)
Father Jim Branning Mother Reenie Branning Brothers Derek Branning
Sisters Carol Jackson
Sons Bradley Branning
Daughters Lauren Branning
Nephews Robbie Jackson
Nieces Bianca Jackson
Max is the fifth child and second son of Jim and Reenie Branning (Joy Graham). Max had a difficult childhood, which was made worse by the arrival of his younger brother Jack (Scott Maslen), as Max and Jack vied for the attentions of their father. When Max was blamed for stealing and losing a medal that Jim's mother was given during World War II in honour of his late father for bravery, Jim severed all ties with his son and even once locked him in a coffin. Max got his girlfriend Rachel pregnant at seventeen, which led to them marrying and becoming parents to their son Bradley (Charlie Clements) in August 1987 at just eighteen. Max lost touch with his parents, but kept in touch with his siblings, particularly Carol (Lindsey Coulson). Max began an affair with Tanya Cross, and after discovering that Tanya was pregnant in 1993, Max divorced Rachel and lost all contact with Bradley. Max married Tanya on 6 August 1994 and became a father to their children Lauren (Madeline Duggan until June 2010, Jacqueline Jossa thereafter), in March 1994, and Abi (Lorna Fitzgerald), in June 1996.
Max arrives in Walford to confront his father after a seventeen-year absence, but Jim throws him out and Max meets Bradley, and decides to stay to rebuild their relationship. Tanya arrives to collect him, and a month later the family move to Albert Square. Max is caught having an affair with Gemma Clewes (Natalie J. Robb) by Tanya, but she gives their marriage one last try. Max buys 10 Turpin Road for Tanya to open as a beauty parlour and begins meeting up with Bradley. Max thinks Bradley is too good for his girlfriend Stacey Slater (Lacey Turner), and when she gets pregnant, he gives Bradley money for an abortion, telling him a baby will ruin his life. However, the abortion causes their relationship to end. To hurt Bradley, Stacey makes a move on Max and they have sex. They begin an affair, but Tanya tells Max she is pregnant by him. He tries to save his marriage despite promising Stacey that he will leave Tanya. But when Stacey learns of Tanya' pregnancy, Max takes his family to Spain, and a few weeks later tells Bradley they are moving there permanently. Max returns with his family to find that Stacey and Bradley have reconciled and are now engaged. On the night of Bradley and Stacey's wedding, Max kisses Stacey, and although she rejects him, Max's daughter Lauren captures the kiss on video. Soon after, Tanya and Max's son Oscar is born. Max and Stacey's affair is revealed at Christmas, after Lauren makes a copy of the recording and gives it to Bradley as a present. Both couples separate, and Tanya files for divorce, but Max interferes with Tanya's romance with Sean Slater (Rob Kazinsky) and threatens to expose her as an unfit mother. With the help of Sean, Tanya drugs Max and puts him in a coffin before burying him alive in the woods. An attack of conscience prompts Tanya to dig Max up and he decides to leave Walford as he can see how much devastation he had caused.
Max returns, and discovers Tanya is now in a relationship with Jack. Max tries to separate them by attempting to buy their house, seducing Jack's ex-girlfriend Ronnie Mitchell (Samantha Janus), and planning to frame Jack for a crime he did not commit. Jack abducts Max and beats him up, after which, Max and Tanya kiss. Later that evening he is the victim of a deliberate hit-and-run, which Tanya confesses to and is arrested. However, Lauren later admits that she was driving the car and turns herself in to the police. Tanya is released and Lauren is taken into care. Lauren is found not guilty of attempted murder, but guilty of grievous bodily harm, and she decides to return home. Max and Tanya start a secret relationship, and Tanya later allows Max to move back with his family. Max gets into debt and starts conning people with false insurance claims, including Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden), Heather Trott (Cheryl Fergison), Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt) and Masood Ahmed (Nitin Ganatra). However his schemes are found out, and the debt collectors arrive at the house and take his assets. Once the extent of Max's debts, lies and cons become clear, Tanya leaves with Lauren and Oscar, though Abi stays. Max sinks into depression, and then sends Abi to live with her mother, as he cannot look after her. Max and Bradley decide to go into business together, and Roxy Mitchell (Rita Simons) rents the car lot to them. After Archie's murder on Christmas Day 2009, Max discovers that Bradley punched Archie because he raped and impregnated Stacey. When the police come for Bradley, Max helps him flee with Stacey, but the police chase Bradley to a rooftop where he stumbles and falls to his death. As Max and Stacey cry, she admits to him that she killed Archie. Stacey goes missing, but Max finds her, and after an emotional confrontation, he takes Stacey home, and the pair agree to tell no one about Archie's murder. Max meets Vanessa Gold (Zöe Lucker) after she buys a car from him. They start a casual relationship, but she guesses that Max still loves his ex-wife, and ends the affair. When Max discovers that he and Tanya are divorced, he storms in to her house and tells her he still loves her. However, Tanya says she has moved on, and reveals she and her new boyfriend Greg Jessop (Stefan Booth) are engaged, and will be married in a few months.
Max attempts to recommence his affair with Vanessa, but she informs him that their relationship will never be serious. However, when Vanessa's husband Harry (Linal Haft) discovers the affair, he throws her out of their home and she moves in with Max, Vanessa's daughter Jodie (Kylie Babbington) also moves in, along with Lauren and Abi. Harry starts taking revenge by throwing a brick through their window, destroying Vanessa's clothes and killing Jodie's cat. Max and Jack threaten Harry, thinking it is over, but Jack is kidnapped by orders from Harry, and Max finds him the next day in the boot of his car. Lauren concludes that Max killed Archie, because he has been displaying violent behaviour, but Max tells her that he made a promise to the killer to protect them. After Stacey tells Lauren that Max is looking after her, Lauren tells Max that she has worked out that Stacey is the killer. Lauren gets a confession from Stacey, Lauren informs Janine Malloy (Charlie Brooks) that Stacey killed Archie, and Janine publicly announces that Stacey is a killer, so Max helps her to escape. He drives her to the airport and says he does still love her but she says she only loves Bradley and then leaves the country. Max proposes to Vanessa, and she accepts. They announce their engagement to everyone, but Tanya confronts Max and tells him that she knows that he only proposed to Vanessa to make her jealous. Max and Tanya argue before sleeping together, and they begin an affair, but Lauren discovers this so Tanya decides to end it. However, it continues, despite Tanya marrying Greg. When the affair is revealed after he leaves Vanessa, Max goes to Tanya in hope he will be with her. Unknown to him, she has found out she may have cancer and tells him she does not love him. Kicked out by his children, Max decides to leave. Meanwhile, Tanya chases after Max but is too late, and watches as a tearful Max leaves Walford in his car.
Creation and development
Jake Wood was cast in the role of Max in January 2006. At the time, little was known of the character, who was to move in with Jim (John Bardon) and Dot Branning (June Brown). Wood commented: "I'm a great admirer of both John Bardon and June Brown and I'm looking forward to joining the Branning family."
In March 2008, Max was temporarily written out of the show when Wood went on paternity leave. Wood said of this "It comes at a good time because Max is getting grief over his affair so he will disappear for a while." He returned three months later, in June.
In May 2009, Wood signed a new two-year contract with the show, saying he hoped his character would get back with his wife, Tanya (Jo Joyner), saying: "He believes Tanya still loves him. I think she does too." Later in 2009 Max gets into debt and tries to con various Walford residents. On conning single mother Heather Trott (Cheryl Fergison), Wood said "Max has got a conscience but he's thinking about his own survival. He wants to keep his family at all costs." On hiding Max's debt problems from Tanya, Wood commented: "Max thinks he can wriggle out of situations and admitting to debt would be a blow to his manhood. But Tanya would have understood and he'd have kept his family. [...] The problem between Max and Tanya has always been honesty. If Tanya finds out she may never trust Max again." When Tanya discovers Max's lies, she leaves him. This storyline facilitated Joyner's temporary departure on maternity leave. The show's executive producer Diederick Santer commented: "Yet again, Max has messed up, hasn't he? He's learned to keep it in his trousers, but financially, he's corrupt. He's taken his eye off the ball business-wise and like a lot of people in the last year or two, he's found it tough going. His inability to show weakness or to share his problems with Tanya has been his downfall. He has to rebuild his life now and his long-term objective is to get Tanya back. Jo Joyner is of course returning to the Square but whether Max gets Tanya back is another thing. I don't know if he's good enough for her." Santer also revealed that some planned storyline material for Max and Tanya was put on hold until Tanya's return from maternity leave.
In March 2010, a new love interest for Max was announced, Vanessa Gold, played by Zöe Lucker. A spokesperson for the show said that "[Max and Vanessa] are both volatile and explosive characters and their meeting will be like putting a lit match next to a barrel [of] gunpowder." Wood said that Max is weak when it comes to women, although his desire is to have his wife and children back, adding that "He always makes mistakes, he's easily led and the grass is always greener. He's his own worst enemy."
In March 2011, it was revealed that Max and Abi would suffer severe injuries after their car crashes into a lorry on the way to Tanya's wedding to Greg Jessop (Stefan Booth), prompting Tanya to flee the wedding to help him. The crash scenes were filmed on 6 March 2011.
The storyline which saw Tanya bury Max alive prompted 167 viewer complaints, citing the inappropriate nature of the scenes, which aired prior to the 9.00 pm watershed. The BBC responded with the statement: "Whilst we appreciate that these episodes were dramatic, they were carefully filmed and edited in order that Max's ordeal was in the main implicit, rather than explicit, whilst still retaining their powerfulness. It's also important to note that Max made it out alive after Tanya realised she couldn't go through with her plan to leave him for dead. The burial is in no way glamorised or glorified, rather we see that when pushed to the edge, Tanya's behaviour becomes out of character, and indeed that it's Tanya herself who ultimately suffers because of her actions. Once again we are sorry that you did not enjoy these episodes." The UK communications regulator Ofcom later found that the episodes depicting the storyline were in breach of the 2005 Broadcasting Code. They contravened the rules regarding protection of children by appropriate scheduling, appropriate depiction of violence before the 9pm watershed and appropriate depiction of potentially offensive content.
Wood has received a number of award nominations for his portrayal of Max. In 2007, he was nominated for Best Newcomer at the TV Quick and TV Choice Awards, and Best Soap Actor the following year and in 2010. In 2008 and 2009, he was nominated for Best Actor at the Inside Soap Awards, Also in 2009 he was nominated for Best Actor at The British Soap Awards. In 2010, he was nominated in the Outstanding Serial Drama Performance category at the National Television Awards, but was not shortlisted, and in February 2011, Wood was nominated for Best Actor in the Soap Bubble Awards for his portrayal of Max.
- ^ Wilkes, Neil (19 January 2006). "Mitchell kids to return to Walford". Digital Spy. http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/soaps/a28246/mitchell-kids-to-return-to-walford.html. Retrieved 6 May 2009.
- ^ "Max Flees Walford". Virgin Media. Archived from the original on 4 February 2008. http://web.archive.org/web/20080204171806/http://soaps.virginmedia.com/Virgin/tvradio/Story_Page/0,18919,2958087_soapnews,00.html. Retrieved 6 May 2009.
- ^ Methven, Nicola (5 May 2009). "EastEnders' star Jake Wood signs new deal". Daily Mirror. http://www.mirror.co.uk/tv-entertainment/tv/tv-land/2009/05/05/eastenders-star-jake-wood-signs-new-deal-115875-21335011/. Retrieved 6 May 2009.
- ^ a b "Jake Wood warns Max's marriage may be wrecked!". What's on TV. 25 November 2009. http://www.whatsontv.co.uk/soaps/eastenders/interviews/jake-wood-warns-maxs-marriage-may-be-wrecked/7517. Retrieved 12 December 2009.
- ^ Green, Kris (17 December 2009). "'EastEnders' exec teases 2010 storylines". Digital Spy. http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/soaps/s2/eastenders/scoop/a189597/eastenders-exec-teases-2010-storylines.html. Retrieved 17 December 2009.
- ^ Green, Kris (17 December 2009). "Producer's Perspective 2009: Diederick Santer". Digital Spy. http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/soaps/s2/eastenders/news/a189593/producers-perspective-2009-diederick-santer.html. Retrieved 17 December 2009.
- ^ Gould, Lara (21 March 2010). "Now Zoe Lucker's Strictly an Eastender". Daily Mirror. Trinity Mirror. http://www.mirror.co.uk/celebs/news/2010/03/21/now-zoe-lucker-s-strictly-an-eastender-115875-22126964/. Retrieved 22 March 2010.
- ^ Hudson, Polly (24 March 2010). "EastEnders actor Jake Wood on his character Max Branning: "Women like a rogue, they like that bad boy thing"". Daily Mirror. Trinity Mirror. http://www.mirror.co.uk/celebs/news/2010/03/24/eastenders-actor-jake-wood-on-his-character-max-branning-women-like-a-rogue-they-like-that-bad-boy-thing-115875-22134918/. Retrieved 24 March 2010.
- ^ Kilkelly, Daniel (23 February 2011). "Wedding day shock for 'Enders Tanya". Digital Spy (London: Hachette Filipacchi UK). http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/soaps/s2/eastenders/news/a305456/wedding-day-shock-for-enders-tanya.html. Retrieved 7 March 2011.
- ^ Kilkelly, Daniel (7 March 2011). "'EastEnders' films car crash scenes". Digital Spy (London: Hachette Filipacchi UK). http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/soaps/s2/eastenders/news/a307517/eastenders-films-car-crash-scenes.html. Retrieved 7 March 2011.
- ^ Kilkelly, Daniel. "'EastEnders' Max to return in huge Branning week". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines. http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/soaps/s2/eastenders/news/a347682/eastenders-max-to-return-in-huge-branning-week.html. Retrieved 26 October 2011.
- ^ John Plunkett (2008-03-25). "BBC says sorry to EastEnders viewers". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/mar/25/bbc.television1?gusrc=rss&feed=networkfront. Retrieved 2008-03-25.
- ^ Ofcom Broadcast Bulletin 112, June 2008
- ^ "Viewers' chance to vote". EastEnders (BBC Online). 3 July 2007. Archived from the original on 11 September 2007. http://web.archive.org/web/20070911063559/http://www.bbc.co.uk/eastenders/news/news_20070521_n1.shtml. Retrieved 28 March 2009.
- ^ Hardie, Beth (25 June 2008). "TVQuick and TVChoice Award nominations announced". Daily Mirror. http://www.mirror.co.uk/celebs/2008/06/25/tvquick-and-tvchoice-award-nominations-announced-89520-20620559/. Retrieved 27 April 2009.
- ^ "Vote online in the TVQuick and TVChoice Awards!". BBC Online. 17 May 2010. http://www.bbc.co.uk/eastenders/news/100517-quick-and-choice.shtml. Retrieved 18 May 2010.
- ^ "Coronation Street to defend crown". BBC News. 15 July 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7506211.stm. Retrieved 27 March 2009.
- ^ "Vote in the Inside Soap Awards". BBC Online. 7 July 2009. http://www.bbc.co.uk/eastenders/news/news_20090707.shtml. Retrieved 8 July 2009.
- ^ "Vote in the British Soap Awards". BBC.co.uk. 23 February 2009. http://www.bbc.co.uk/eastenders/news/news_20090223.shtml. Retrieved 29 March 2009.
- ^ "National Television Awards 2009". BBC Online. 7 September 2009. http://www.bbc.co.uk/eastenders/news/news_20090907.shtml. Retrieved 7 September 2009. [dead link]
- ^ Kilkelly, Daniel (13 February 2011). "In Full: All About Soap Bubble nominations". Digital Spy (London: Hachette Filipacchi UK). http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/soaps/scoop/a303447/in-full-all-about-soap-bubble-nominations.html. Retrieved 14 February 2011.
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