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'EastEnders': Kierston Wareing talks Kirsty Branning role

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EastEnders newcomer Kierston Wareing has spoken about her top-secret role on the soap for the first time.

The BBC One show's hour-long Christmas Day episode saw Wareing arrive on screen as Kirsty Branning, who is the secret wife of established regular Max (Jake Wood).

Kierston Wareing as Kirsty Branning in EastEnders

© BBC



The actress has been filming with EastEnders since October, but show bosses kept her casting well under wraps so that fans would be surprised by the storyline twist.

Wareing explained: "I first knew about the role when I was filming in Morocco. I was checking my emails and I had one from my agent saying, 'EastEnders want to see you when you get back'.

"I went for a meeting with [executive producer] Lorraine Newman and [series consultant] Simon Ashdown, and they offered me the role there and then. I was ecstatic, I was like, 'Yes, yes, yes!' So I knew about it from April, then everything went very, very quiet for months and to be honest I thought, 'Are you sure they still want me?!'

"Then they came back in August, just before I started filming and then it all went very quickly. I always knew I'd be arriving on Christmas Day since I got the first call, and I started filming at the end of October."

Kierston Wareing as Kirsty Branning

© BBC



She continued: "It was really weird doing my first scene - even though I have done things before, this was a show that I have grown up with as a child. Suddenly I'm on the Square and it's very surreal and I am seeing legendary characters like Sharon, who I have grown up watching - it's bizarre. And now I know her as Tish, and we're friends.

"Then there was another moment a few weeks later when I was sitting in The Vic and June Brown walked in, and it feels like you have literally jumped into your own TV set."

Due to the secrecy surrounding Kirsty's arrival, The Shadow Line and Top Boy actress Wareing even kept most of her loved ones in the dark about her new part.

"It has got hard the nearer it gets to the episodes going out, as it's exciting and nerve-wracking, and of course you would like to share it with people," Wareing commented.

"But the only people who know about it apart from my agent, are my dad - but he doesn't want to know the full ins and outs as he knows I have to keep it a secret - and my brother, so it has been hard.

Tanya and Kirsty in EastEnders

© BBC



"I have been staying at a local hotel while I've been filming and I've been asked by people - often the taxi driver when he has dropped me off - what I am doing, and I have been telling them I am temping in the office. Or when they have seen scripts, I say I'm doing background work!"

Wareing also admitted that she is hoping EastEnders fans will have some sympathy for Kirsty as the storyline develops.

She said: "I love playing her, as there are a lot of places she can go, I feel. She has a lot of sides to her which is great, as there's a lot of directions she could go. We don't know much about her, so there is potential for a lot to come out about her.

"First of all I thought, 'What a bitch!', but there is a side that hopefully comes across where people will feel sorry for her, especially when you realise her situation - Max left her.

"I do like her - she is far from boring and I hope in the future there are lots more fight scenes, more bitchy arguments and more sobbing to come - a lot to get my teeth into!"

Max Branning (JAKE WOOD)

© BBC Pictures

Tanya Cross

© BBC Pictures



Kirsty's arrival ends a year's worth of speculation over Max's secret, which was finally exposed thanks to the scheming antics of his older brother Derek.

An EastEnders statement teased: "Kirsty is set to cause trouble for Max and Tanya. Will Max and Tanya's relationship survive, and will Kirsty want to give up her husband? One thing's for sure, Kirsty is fiery, flirty and does what she wants."

The show's Christmas episode also featured Jamie Foreman's final scenes as Derek, who suffered a huge heart attack following a dramatic showdown with his family.

EastEnders continues on Boxing Day (Wednesday, December 26) at 8.30pm on BBC One. Get the Inside Soap magazine on your iPhone or iPad

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