EastEnders star Tanya Franks reacts to Rainie and Max's huge storyline twist

Meet the new Mrs Branning! EastEnders has unleashed a big new twist as part of Max’s return storyline, revealing that he’s tied the knot with his former sister-in-law Rainie Cross.

Tuesday’s episode saw Max (Jake Wood) exchanging vows with a mystery bride in a quickfire ceremony, before it was later revealed that Rainie was the woman in question. We certainly didn’t see that one coming!

The shocking scenes marked Tanya Franks’s big return to the role of Rainie, so Digital Spy recently caught up with her for an instant reaction to the twist and some teasers on what’s to come next.

How did you react when you found out that you’d be Max’s new wife?

“I was excited! I like working with Jake and our characters always hated each other in the past, so it’s nice to put a new twist on it.”

How does it feel to be back in the show after three 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. She’s going down a road that I would never have foreseen in the past. So as long as they keep challenging me with new aspects of Rainie, then I always enjoy it.”

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. It’s good for me, because even I’m learning and finding out what she’s like. What I know of Rainie is when she is always grasping for the next new hit. So now she’s not going through that, she’s finding other ways and she’s getting 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?

“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’! So I went away to work things out with a couple of other projects to see if it was possible and we made it work.”

What can you tell us about the dynamic between Max and Rainie?

“We do find ourselves laughing a lot on set, myself and Jake. We would never have thought of this idea, so it is really fun for us to play and we are having a good time with it. I think Max and Rainie are working really well together. I think the chemistry and the dynamic is something that has taken us all by surprise.”

Do they talk about Tanya and how she might feel about this?

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

Do we get much background on what’s happened for both characters since the funeral?

“You don’t get much background to that, but 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. It’s around that point that it became apparent that Max and Rainie were both in a very similar scenario.

“Nobody in the world wants either one of them, but both of them have to look to 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. They’re trying to find the next big thing for themselves and it’s surprisingly connected between the two of them.”

What is Jake like to work with?

“He’s an actor of integrity and it’s a pleasure to work with him, he’s very detailed. It’s a lovely collaborative feel when we’re on set together and I think it’s good teamwork, actually. It’s lots of fun, we have lots of laughs – he’s a giggler so we do giggle quite a lot.”

What kind of fan reactions do you get from playing Rainie?

“I think when people speak to me personally in the street, they tend to be really favourable of her, because they enjoy what the antics of the character are going to bring. I quite often get the question 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 that’s one side of Rainie 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.”

Would you like to work with your on-screen sister Jo Joyner (Tanya) if she popped back again?

“Of course – it’s lovely working with Jo, so absolutely. If we had the chance to work together again, that would be a blessing. But Jo is busy doing lots of other shows as well at the moment and I don’t know whether she’s part of the story in the future or how that will work for her even – if she has the time to.

“We’ve seen each other on quite a few other projects and we’re quite up to date with each other.”

Would you like to see Ann Mitchell (Cora) back too?

“Absolutely, yeah of course. She brings a great spark to the relationship of the family, so yeah absolutely.”

You’re now back in the show, but in the past, you’ve played many different characters. Have you enjoyed that chance to do lots of different roles?

“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, going between comedy and drama. I’ve done theatre as well and bits of film, so it’s lovely.

“But on saying that, when you’re playing a character like Rainie, there are so many twists and turns. There are so many arcs to her character and so much depth, which 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. 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 (April 26) at 7.30pm on BBC One.

Digital Spy Soap Scoop video – hit play below for all the latest EastEnders spoilers, as Max Branning makes his return and Tiffany could be heading out of Walford.

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