Jake Wood has announced that he is leaving EastEnders – but fans needn't fear, he has confirmed he will only be gone for a year. The actor, who has played Max Branning on the BBC soap since 2006, is taking some time off to pursue other projects.
"I've been at EastEnders for nine years and I feel the time is right to give Max a break," Jake, 42, told the Sun. "But it won't be for too long as I shall be back to see Max face another chapter of drama."
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Jake Wood has confirmed he is taking a 12-month break from EastEnders
Max will leave Albert Square in the summer, after he is put in an untenable situation that he can't escape.
"When I returned to EastEnders, both Jake and I agreed that Max has been through so much over the past nine years that we would give both him and Jake a break when the opportunity arose," executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins said.
"That opportunity has come and it is the perfect time to send Max Branning out with a bang that will send ripples through the Square for the rest of the year until Jake returns."
Speaking to the Mirror earlier this year, Jake reflected on his character's "interesting" 12 months.
Jake has played Max Branning on the BBc soap since 2006
"Max has had an interesting year, he fell in love and then he lost the love of his life," he said. "He then lost the car lot and the Arches. He's down on his luck at the moment and that is interesting to play when Max is not flying so high, desperate and drinking whisky."
Max famously had an affair with his daughter-in-law Stacey, before getting involved with a police officer investigating the murder of Lucy Beale – before she herself was killed after being hit by a car.
His latest love interest was glamorous blonde Karin Smart, played by Denise Van Outen. The actress made a big first impression, sharing a kiss with co-star Jake during her opening scene – "I looked at the script and said, 'What an ice breaker!'" she previously told Philip Schofield and Christine Bleakley during an interview on This Morning.
"And actors have a discussion about you can and can't do – the rules! Because some people like to really go for it. We were just acting but with passion."