Jake Wood on liking Max, the return of Mel and his delight at taking centre stage in the big EastEnders Christmas storyline

EastEnders star Jake Wood has revealed his fondness for his character Max Branning and said it was a “great honour” to be at the centre of the soap’s Christmas Day episode.

The actor attributed the resurgence of the show to the return of boss John Yorke. He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “We’ve had John Yorke come back, who is a legendary EastEnders producer.

“He was there about 10 years ago and he’s come back in the last few months, he’s really ramping up the storylines.”

Jake took a year off from the soap after competing in Strictly Come Dancing in 2014.

Strictly Come Dancing 2014
Jake on Strictly (Guy Levy/BBC)

In May 2015 he said he would be absent from the show for 12 months , before returning while Sean O’Connor was still running the soap.

He said: “Its been great, I had a year off and then I came back under Sean O’Connor and when I came back he sort of outlined Max’s revenge in the last year.

“I like him, I’m very fond of Max. I couldn’t play it for 12 years if I didn’t like the character, he’s so complicated.”

Jake as Max, with Stacey Fowler, played by Lacey Turner (Guy Moyes/PA)

“Strictly on its own is very exhausting and we were filming EastEnders at the same time so shortly after that I took a year off because I had done 10 years without a break.

“I’ve got two small children, I wanted to spend a bit of time at home. It’s really important.”

At Christmas, Max contemplated suicide while standing on a rooftop.

When his daughters Lauren and Abi tried to talk him down, they both fell to the cobbles of Albert Square below.

While they both survived, the actresses have confirmed they will leave in the near future.

Jake said: “It’s always a great honour to be part of an EastEnders Christmas.

Max with Lauren and Abi (Dan Goldsmith/BBC)

“For me, it’s part of British life, EastEnders at Christmas. It’s an honour to be at the centre of those storylines.”

Asked if the return of Melanie Owen, played by Tamzin Outhwaite, could also open up new storylines for Max, he said: “It could do, I don’t know exactly what they have got in mind.

“Obviously that character has got a lot of history with Ian Beale, who knows.”