EastEnders' Max Branning could turn evil again to get baby Abi reveals Jake Wood

The actor – who has played scheming businessman Max for 14 years in the BBC soap – has teased how Max's battle with mother-in-law Cora Cross for his granddaughter will see him return to his evil ways if he needs to.

Speaking exclusively to The Sun Online's Soap Bubble, Jake said: "They're in a battle. Obviously Max wants custody and Cora wants custody. They both feel like they are the right person to look after Abi going forward and neither of them are going to back down. It's going to be full on."

Viewers have watched Max try his best to convince Walford's residents how he has changed since his revenge plan saw his daughter Abi die after plunging off the roof of the Queen Vic when trying to save him.

But after setting up a fake marriage to Rainie Cross in an attempt to convince Social Services he could provide the perfect home for the baby instead of Cora.

He said: "Max is very single minded and his whole focus this year has been about getting custody of Abi for redemption. It's his second chance to be a better parent. I don't think Max has even considered the possibility that he might not even get custody, so if that happens I don't know what state he'll be in."

And Jake is sure Max could be a good dad – despite everything.

He added: "I think so, as long as he's focused and he's got himself together then Max could be a great parent. He works hard, he works hard to provide for his family when he's had one.

"He's been a dad a good few times over and while he's made mistakes, he has been a good dad. He could be a very good dad as long as he's focused and committed.

"He just needs to keep them away from the roof of the Vic."

And he teased an upcoming fight about the custody battle that will see fists flying, saying they were: "Always good, always exciting and we enjoy a good tear-up in Walford."

Fans were devastated earlier this week when it was revealed Max's ex-wife Tanya had suffered a breakdown after Abi died but despite Max being the cause, he still thinks it is proof he should raise the baby.

Jake added: "Tanya's been incapable since Abi's death. She's had a breakdown is what we hear, and that strengthens Max's mind in thinking that he's the right person to get custody."

And as for a return for Tanya, Jake would love actress Jo Joyner to make a Walford comeback, but he's not sure it will happen anytime soon.

"Jo Joyner's a great actor and it would be fabulous to get her back but I don't think it's on Jo's agenda," he said.

"She's busy doing other stuff and she's a mum to two beautiful kids at home and she's enjoying doing that so I'm not sure if Jo would ever come back but from my point of view I'd love it. And viewers would love to see her back."

And it's the same with his on-screen daughter Jacqueline Jossa who plays Lauren Branning.

He said: "I always thought Jacqueline would come back at some point. I thought she needed some time out to be a mum at home for a while and she's done that. I don't know whether she's ready to come back but she's a great actor, a good mate and an asset to the show. I'd be over the moon to see her back."

But one thing that is sure – no matter how bad Max gets, viewers will continue to love him.

Jake added: "To be honest, it doesn't matter what Max does, people are always drawn to him and enjoy him as a character. Even when Max was at his worst, people were just loving what he was doing. I'm very grateful for that. I think he's just an interesting character.

"Viewers have been on a journey with him for the 14 years I've been there and they can see he's not all bad. He's trying hard to do the right thing.

"He's got feelings and he's got heart and he's capable of love and all that stuff. He's got a lot of sides to him, but it seems whatever he does people enjoy him so I'm blessed with that."

As for Christmas, last year saw Max lose Abi to death and Lauren to a graveyard and this year the show will revisit that with it playing heavy on Max's mind.

Jake remained mum on how it will come about but he added: "I can't possibly say. The year to the say the kids fell off the roof, so I'm sure that will be heavy in mind."

But with the arrival of new boss Kate Oates to the show, Jake isn't worried about being axed.

He said: "Everyone's very excited at work because she's done amazing things at Coronation Street. She brings high high drama and we're just looking forward to getting some of that into Walford."

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