We all watched with mouths open during last night’s Christmas Day EastEnders as Max Branning’s secret wife, Kirsty, turned up to stop his wedding to ex-wife, Tanya, in one of the best kept secret reveals the show has ever seen.
Now that the secret, which Jake Wood who plays Max admits he had to sign a secrecy contract promising to keep for the last year, is out the actress who plays Kirsty, Kierston Wareing, has spoken out about her new, high profile role.
Ever since Max has returned following the revelation last year that his ex-wife, Tanya, had cervical cancer, we knew he had been hiding something.
For starters, he seemed far too dependent on his dastardly older brother, Derek (Jamie Foreman – who viewers saw die of a heart attack at the end of last night’s Christmas special), and kept on curiously giving him money to deliver to an unknown source.
As the year progressed, we have seen the situation with Max’s secret benefactor getting more serious, especially last week when Derek took a beating from three men when Max failed to pay up.
However, when Derek text whoever it was who was after his brother with his address last night, instead of a mob of angry bullies turning up at the door, there was a blonde woman claiming to be Max’s wife (we still aren’t too sure where the angry men fit into this story yet, but we are sure it will become clear soon).
The arrival of Kirsty saw many other secrets come skipping out of the closet, including the fact that the money Derek had been taking from Max had not been given to her, as he told max it was, and the fact that she had been pregnant and aborted the baby when Derek told her that Max wanted nothing to do with the child, which it turns out he knew nothing about.
Now, we have to say that as much as Max has been a bad boy in the past, we actually sympathise with him on this one.
It turns out that he had married this girl when Tanya had kicked him out, unable to tell him about her illness, but had left her high and dry when he had found out that Tanya had cancer. He had thought that Derek had been passing on messages that he had in fact not, and that Kirsty had signed the divorce papers allowing him to marry Tanya, which she had not.
Now, with Derek dead, the Branning’s will be waking up this morning to a whole hornets-nest of issues, and Kierston Wareing, who plays Kirsty Branning in the hit BBC soap, has been explaining to Digital Spy her character’s part in the fallout this Christmas storyline:
Wareing explained: “I first knew about the role when I was filming in Morocco. I was checking my emails and I had one from my agent saying, ‘EastEnders want to see you when you get back’.
“I went for a meeting with [executive producer] Lorraine Newman and [series consultant] Simon Ashdown, and they offered me the role there and then. I was ecstatic, I was like, ‘Yes, yes, yes!’ So I knew about it from April, then everything went very, very quiet for months and to be honest I thought, ‘Are you sure they still want me?!’
“Then they came back in August, just before I started filming and then it all went very quickly. I always knew I’d be arriving on Christmas Day since I got the first call, and I started filming at the end of October.”
She continued: “It was really weird doing my first scene – even though I have done things before, this was a show that I have grown up with as a child. Suddenly I’m on the Square and it’s very surreal and I am seeing legendary characters like Sharon, who I have grown up watching – it’s bizarre. And now I know her as Tish, and we’re friends.
“Then there was another moment a few weeks later when I was sitting in The Vic and June Brown walked in, and it feels like you have literally jumped into your own TV set.”
Wareing, who has previously starred in The Shadow Line and Top Boy, explained how, like Jake Wood, she had also been sworn to secrecy over the storyline:
“It has got hard the nearer it gets to the episodes going out, as it’s exciting and nerve-wracking, and of course you would like to share it with people,
“But the only people who know about it apart from my agent, are my dad – but he doesn’t want to know the full ins and outs as he knows I have to keep it a secret – and my brother, so it has been hard.
“I have been staying at a local hotel while I’ve been filming and I’ve been asked by people – often the taxi driver when he has dropped me off – what I am doing, and I have been telling them I am temping in the office. Or when they have seen scripts, I say I’m doing background work!”
The actress went on to say how she hoped that fans of the show will feel sympathy for her character:
She said: “I love playing her, as there are a lot of places she can go, I feel. She has a lot of sides to her which is great, as there’s a lot of directions she could go. We don’t know much about her, so there is potential for a lot to come out about her.
“First of all I thought, ‘What a bitch!’, but there is a side that hopefully comes across where people will feel sorry for her, especially when you realise her situation – Max left her.
“I do like her – she is far from boring and I hope in the future there are lots more fight scenes, more bitchy arguments and more sobbing to come – a lot to get my teeth into!”
An EastEnders statement teased: “Kirsty is set to cause trouble for Max and Tanya. Will Max and Tanya’s relationship survive, and will Kirsty want to give up her husband? One thing’s for sure, Kirsty is fiery, flirty and does what she wants.”
Watch Kirsty’s arrival last night in the clip below:
EastEnders continues on Boxing Day (Wednesday, December 26) at 8.30pm on BBC One.