Jake Wood as Max Branning

EastEnders actor Jake Wood has spoken about his extended absence from the BBC One soap opera.

He appeared on ITV magazine show This Morning following his dramatic scenes on EastEnders last night, which saw Max escape from court after being found guilty of murdering Lucy Beale (as viewers know Lucy’s younger brother Bobby is the real culprit).

Wood – who plays Max Branning – explained to Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby what’s next for his character and real life plans as he takes a year off from the soap. On his last week on screen in EastEnders, Jake said,

“There are twists and turns… obviously they will work my break into the story, and Max is either on the run or gets recaptured, I don’t know, we’ll find out this week. It’ll be interesting to see what plays out…” Before adding, “I’ll return next September… so yeah, it could go on for another year.”

When asked why he wanted to take a break, Jake admitted,

“I decided to take a year break, I’ve been there for nine years, done just under a thousands episodes… so nine years without a break, and I’ve got two small children at home so it’ll be nice to reacquaint myself with the family. It felt the right time to take a break.”

He added,

“I literally have nothing planned, nothing lined up, the time felt right to take a break and to give the character a break off screen.. but I’m really honoured to have signed a contract to go back. But you know what family life is like – I’m busier now than when I was on EastEnders!”

When asked what it was like juggling Strictly Come Dancing with his acting schedule, and what advice he has for fellow EastEnder Kellie Bright, Jake said,

“I know exactly what she’s going through, It’ll be incredibly tough. It’s physically tough, it’s mentally very tiring… I would finish EastEnders about 2pm and then dancing from 3-8pm, having meals on the run, and then the breaks from dancing I’d be learning my lines – it was just non-stop!”

Revealing how Strictly had helped him with live appearances on EastEnders, he added,

“I was out of my comfort zone, I had never danced before and to be going out live every Saturday night was absolutely terrifying so to go back and do a live EastEnders seemed like a breeze, I was fine.”

Jake Wood (EastEnders) on ITV's This Morning

This Morning airs on ITV, STV and UTV from 10.30am weekdays.
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