Jo Joyner joins TV Times on a trip back through time to reflect on some of her character’s most memorable EastEnders moments.

Life in Soapland is never easy, and Walford’s Tanya Branning has been through more turbulent times than most. As Tanya embarks on her latest chapter – one that sees her estranged hubby, Max, back by her side – actress Jo Joyner shares her thoughts on her most memorable storylines…

June, 2006: Tanya arrives in Walford and discovers Max has had an affair
“It was great to arrive on the square in the middle of a row about Max and Tanya’s relationship, and I thought it gave the audience a good taste of what it was going to be like with these two. It was lovely starting with a family, but it was very strange because we filmed for a week as a new family and then the following week, I was sitting in the café with Ian Beale, and I suddenly got all nervous. There was no getting away from the fact that I was actually in EastEnders!”

December 2007: Tanya gives birth to Oscar, at home
“Oh, I loved that! I remember saying to the Production team, ‘It’s ridiculous; who gives birth in 45 minutes at home?’ and them saying, ‘Funnily enough, here’s the transcript of a women whose husband was on the phone to doctors whilst she gave birth in the front room in 45 minutes. So that was the inspiration for the story, and I realised that when you’ve had a few children, it can get quicker and quicker.”

Christmas Day, 2007: Tanya uncovers Max and Stacey’s affair
“This will always be my proudest time at EastEnders. It was such a great storyline; so well thought out and well presented. What I loved about those episodes was that there was no great expense, no massive stunts; it was just brilliant writing, good directing and great work. I thought it was incredibly believable. It’s the sort of thing that happens all over the country in various different ways.”

March 2008: Tanya and Sean bury Max alive in the woods
“That was a bit ‘out there’, but great to do. That’s soap – it’s heightened and unreal, and if it showed mundane life all the time, no one would watch it. It was an extreme storyline and an extreme test to try and bring the truth to it, and make it feel real.”

May 2008: Tanya embarks on a relationship with Jack
“Scott Maslen, who plays Jack, is such good fun to work with. It was funny because Jack’s a feisty and harsh character most of the time, and he was quite soft and homely with Tanya. They brought out different elements in each other.”

September 2009: Tanya becomes ‘Mrs Beale’ when she and Jane play ‘Wife Swap’
“I could have spent for ever doing that; it was hilarious! It was so nice to do something light, because we don’t laugh a lot in our family! You had Jane, getting to live the life of Tanya, getting dolled up and having breakfast in bed, while Tanya had Ian telling her to mop things up and him getting an answer back of ‘No, get over it!’ It was such a great concept; I just wish we could have done it for longer.”

April 2011: Tanya kisses Max after marrying Greg
“It’s great to do a soap wedding; I feel so lucky to have done one in my time here. It’s great fun to choose the bride’s dress and do it a little bit The Only Way Is Essex – you know, really go for it. And poor old Greg! Everyone knew that he was too nice for Tanya and that ultimately, he wasn’t Max.”

November 2011: Max supports Tanya through cancer
“Tanya and Max’s relationship has been based on Tanya having to be sexy and attractive and keep Max on his toes. Now, she’s in a situation where she cannot be sexy and attractive to him because she hasn’t got the energy or ability, so their relationship terms are utterly different. It is great to have a storyline like this, and it is a big responsibility. I’ve been approached by women in the street who have either been through cervical cancer or have daughters going through it. It’s made me more aware of my own health.”