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Soaps Interview

'EastEnders': David Witts talks awards, Joey Branning future

By
JOEL ANDERSON Joey Branning (DAVID WITTS)
EastEnders' Joey Branning has been at the centre of huge storylines since his debut in June last year, striking up a shock relationship with his cousin Lauren and enduring troubled times with his now-deceased father Derek.

In real life, David Witts - who plays the character - has made the shortlist for 'Most Popular Newcomer' at the National Television Awards 2013 alongside Coronation Street's Natalie Gumede (Kirsty Soames), Emmerdale's Liam Fox (Dan Spencer) and Hollyoaks' Joseph Thompson (Doctor Browning).

David recently caught up with Digital Spy for a chat about his nomination, the NTAs and how life is changing for Joey.

How does it feel to be in the running for 'Most Popular Newcomer'?
"I'm absolutely thrilled! It's not something that I'd thought about before it happened, but obviously now that I've made the shortlist, I'm over the moon. To think that anyone has watched me and liked my work makes me really pleased."

EastEnders stars have taken home the 'Newcomer' prize in the past couple of years, so do you think you're in with a good chance?
"I'd say there's an equal chance all round, really. I don't really watch the other soaps because I don't have the time, but I have looked at the other people in the category out of interest and I know they're all very good. I think it's going to be quite tight. I don't think at all that I'm in any way a front-runner!"

Is there anything you'd say for why our readers should vote for you?
"If you've enjoyed my work, then please do vote for me because it would mean an awful lot. But I think if people want to vote, they will, regardless of me saying it! If they do, I'm very, very grateful."

David Witts as Joey Branning in EastEnders

© BBC / Joel Anderson



Out of the scenes that you've done, do any stand out as ones that you're really proud of?
"I think I've been really lucky to have some big, big storylines. A lot of characters come in and stay in the background for a long time, but with Joey, I was lucky enough to come in and really get some good stuff.

"I'm really pleased with the scenes I've done with Jacqueline [Jossa] and I was very proud of how it played out. Before the Joey and Lauren storyline started, I think people had heard about the 'kissing cousins' and had a lot of reservations about it. But I was really pleased to see that once Joey and Lauren's relationship ended after the car crash, people had changed their minds and said, 'Well actually, they're so good together that we want them to get back together!'

"I was also really pleased with the aftermath of Derek's death. It was nice to show a vulnerable side to Joey, which usually isn't there."

Do you have any words of support for your co-star Adam Woodyatt (Ian Beale), who's up for the 'Serial Drama Performance' prize?
"I can say loads! When you're in the show for so many years, you're not going to have huge storylines every year, so a lot of people forget just how good these long-serving actors are. The viewers are used to Ian Beale being there and they're fully convinced by him, but they don't necessarily take note because it's always been like that.

"For Adam to get nominated after 28 years and to have impressed people with his recent storyline is fantastic. It was when Ian's relationship with Mandy was breaking down that I really started to watch the show and I thought, 'Wow, what a fine actor'.

"For Adam to have made enough impact last year for people to vote for him, I think that speaks absolute volumes. It's absolutely deserved if he wins."

Are you nervous about the live NTA ceremony next week?
"Oh yes, I'm incredibly nervous - I always am for things like this! It's a time where you're totally out of your comfort zone, because you're presenting yourself as yourself rather than as a character, which you're most used to and more comfortable with.

"Whether people say they want to win or they don't, you always are going to experience a huge feeling of pressure, knowing that everything on that evening is building up to that moment where the winner is announced.

"Once I know the decision, there'll be a sense of relief because I won't have to worry about it any more. I think I'll be ever so nervous, but also excited because I've never been to the NTAs before and it's a great opportunity."

With Derek dead, do you think Joey will have a happier life now?
"I do, yes. I think often people need to be broken down completely to come out happier on the other side. Joey was a very guarded character and him having this once-in-a-lifetime breakdown is a realisation for him that things have got to change. Things will change and you'd assume things are on the up, but there are still bridges to cross with Lauren.

"There's a sense of relief, though, that there's no longer somebody meddling in everything that Joey does and trying to make life harder. I'd like to think there's some happiness to be had! Certainly I think his attitude will change, because it's a massive turning point in his life."

David Witts and Jacqueline Jossa

© BBC / Joel Anderson



Lauren still has a drinking problem, so will Joey become concerned over that?
"The drinking problem hasn't been focused on that much yet in terms of their relationship, so how much Joey knows about it, I don't know. Often people turn to alcohol to relieve certain situations, so if Joey and Lauren are to have some happiness in the future, maybe she won't need to drink so much. One would hope so, anyway!"

Is there any chance of us meeting Joey and Alice's mother?
"We haven't heard anything of it, but I think it would be quite nice. There's certainly another dynamic to be had if you are to introduce the mother, but that's completely in the hands of other people.

"If it happens, I think it'd be interesting to explore that relationship. I'm sure that relationship will be something completely different to what we've seen before. The most hard-faced people can be really quite soppy with their mothers so it'd be interesting to see, but I have no idea whether it would happen or not!"

Do you think Joey will make some proper friends on the Square?
"I think Joey would need to find a best friend completely different to himself. He could possibly get on well with Tyler, but at the moment there's too much of a competitive edge there.

"The only person around who's his age would be Fatboy, but even so, I just don't see those two being best friends! I think they could get along, go out and have a drink, but I can't see them telling each other their deepest secrets."

Who would you like more scenes with?
"There are many, many people I'd love to work with. I've always said that I've always loved the work of Gillian Wright - I think she's a fine actress. But that would be difficult as I probably wouldn't want to work with her as Joey, because I don't see what space there is to go there. It just doesn't seem possible!

"I think it'd be fun to get some scenes with Kim, because I think that would be really funny. That could be an amusing dynamic because she's so openly sexual with anyone, while Joey's quite strait-laced. But it really is such a pleasure to work with anybody on EastEnders, because there is such a down-to-earth cast and everyone just wants to get some good work done."

> National Television Awards 2013 - nominations in full
> Read the latest 'EastEnders spoilers and news

Viewer votes for the National Television Awards can be cast via the event's official website.

New! Digital Spy Soap Scoop video - watch Amie Parker-Williams discuss the biggest storylines on the way in Coronation Street, EastEnders, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks.

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