EastEnders actress Jo Joyner has said that she thinks her screen alter ego Tanya Jessop is keeping ex-husband Max at arm’s length as she does not want him to see her suffer during her cancer battle.

Viewers have seen her character attempting to keep her cervical cancer a secret, and keeping Max at a distance while she endures the illness alone.

“Tanya just didn’t want Max to be around to watch her deteriorate,” Jo told Inside Soap magazine.

“Their relationship has been based on Tanya having to be sexy and attractive to keep Max on his toes. But she hasn’t got the energy to work so hard to keep him.

However Tanya’s secret is about to come out – and Jo added that she has been enjoying working with Jake Wood, who plays Max, again as the storyline progresses.

“It’s been lovely to have Jake back,” she said. “I love the dynamics between Max and Tanya. It’s a comfortable history for us actors to understand their relationship.”

And she also said she had found the plotline very rewarding.

“It was a big responsibility for me,” Jo admitted. “When anyone in soap is given a storyline like this, that tackles a subject that’s so relevant and important, you take it very seriously. I feel very grateful that they trusted me with this plot.”