The actress has reprised her role as Walford’s Rainie Cross whose just married her former brother-in-law, Max Branning.

EastEnders viewers were left to ‘guess the bride’ tonight (24th April) after Max Branning (Jake Wood) attended a registry office to marry a woman whose identity was kept under wraps until the end of the episode.

Back on the Square, Max managed to lure some of the locals to the club to meet his new wife, but things didn’t go to plan when Kat (Jessie Wallace) decided to confront him about his past actions after taking advantage of the free bar. As things got more heated, Rainie arrived and stopped Kat from hitting Max, revealing that she’s the one who’s just married him.

Franks has played the often troubled Rainie on-and-off since 2007 with the character last seen by her niece Abi’s hospital bedside earlier this year as doctors withdrew her life support. 

Below, the actress – who is also known for her roles in Pulling and Broadchurch – discusses her latest return to the soap and Max and Rainie’s surprise union:

How does it feel to be back on the show after 3 years away?

I’m really enjoying it and having a really nice time. I enjoy the people I work with and it’s a fun new journey for Rainie.

Has she changed much – is this a new Rainie?

Yeah we’re now going to find out what Rainie is like without having to rely on substances.

And are you pleased about that, do you think this is new grounds for her or are you missing the old Rainie?

It’s good for me because even I’m learning and finding out what she’s like, because what I know of Rainie is when she is always grasping for the next new hit and so now she’s not going through that she’s finding other ways and new obsessions, which is fun to play.

When you were approached to come back how much did they tell you about the plans for Rainie and how did they pitch to you?

John Yorke very nicely sat me down over a coffee and told me how he saw the upcoming journey for Rainie and it did excite me straight away. He said would you consider it? I said absolutely!

What kinds of fan reactions do you get from playing Rainie, do they love her do they love to hate her how would you describe it?

I think when people speak to me personally in the street or something they tend to be really favourable of her in that they enjoy what the antics of the character are going to bring.  I quite often get the thing of “ooh has she cleaned up”? They want to know is she going to clean up or is she still going to be off the rails.

I think one side of her they’re quite intrigued by and this whole new venture now is a whole new dynamic so it will be interesting for me as well to see how the audience react to this.

Is there any guilt about Tanya for Rainie or Max, did they see this as a betrayal- obviously Max and Tanya are long over but how did they feel about the ‘elephant Tanya’ in the room?

No they don’t talk about it and for Rainie actually, I think a lot of it is in spite of Tanya.

Since Abi died what’s it been like for Rainie?

From Rainie’s point of view she had already made the decision to clean herself up. When she was at the hospital with Abi and the family Rainie was already cleaning herself up then.  And that’s how Max and Rainie – it’s around that point that it becomes apparent that they are both in a very similar scenario.  Nobody in the world wants either one of them, but both of them have to look to at a new pathway.  It’s a bit like a kindred spirit from opposing ends of the scale.  Two people that absolutely loathe each other, but actually there’s a lot of similarity between the two for different reasons.

They are both a bit self-destructive aren’t they?

Yes self-destructive and always trying to find a way through and a way out. Trying to find the next big thing for themselves and it’s surprisingly connected between the two of them.

In the past you’ve played many different characters and you’ve not been tied down in the sense for too long, have you enjoyed that in the past?

I do and as an actress I do play a variety of different types of characters and I do enjoy that.  I enjoy the challenge of the different variety of work and roles that I go between comedy and drama.  Theatre as well and bits of film, it’s lovely. But on saying that, when you’re playing a character like Rainie there are so many twists and turns and so many arcs to her character and so much depth that keeps surprising me.  So she’s always someone that’s a joy for me to play because I’m always finding out new things about her and you know quite often in these shows you get to play a range of different scenarios that is incomparable to a lot of other shows.  So from that point of view it’s always a lovely challenge.

Could you sum up the next few months in a sentence?

I would say nobody would imagine what it’s like for Rainie and Max to be together so the only way to discover how potentially successful or disastrous this could be is just to view it and find out.

EastEnders continues on Thursday at 7.30pm on BBC One.

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