During the Stacey and Max affair storyline, Jo Joyner did not read any other parts of the EastEnders scripts apart from her own. This was because she felt her acting improved by not knowing what the character of Max did behind her character's back, and because she felt that she could better justify to herself why Tanya would not suspect Max of cheating if she in reality didn't know what he was getting up to.
In a July 2008 interview with the Sunday People Joyner revealed that she was disappointed that Tanya's wild side and past hadn't been explored more in the aftermath of her character burying husband Max alive, saying that after these events she had hoped the character would just "go mad". Producers then revealed that Tanya would once again be the centre of one of the years major storylines, though kept details of this under wraps.
Despite countless award nominations and wins for her role as Tanya, as well as being at the forefront of the action in Albert Square for the last year, Jo Joyner has said that she really doesn't feel like she's made that much of an impact on EastEnders.
During her stormy childhood Tanya began dabbling in drugs and alcohol, and eventually got her sister addicted to drugs. Tanya was also very promiscuous in her teens, but had set herself higher standards than Rainie, who resorted to prostitution as a way to fund her habit. Eventually Tanya's rebellious and dangerous lifestyle caught up with her and after falling pregnant by her lover she was forced to grow up and take on responsibility. Her seriously bad background attributes to Tanya's strong and independent mannerisms, as she was often left to fend for herself when she was younger.
At just 18, Tanya began an affair with a young businessman named Max Branning, who was married to a woman named Rachel and had a 5-year-old son named Bradley. Tanya was not aware that Max was married, but when she fell pregnant by him, he proposed and since she was deeply in love with him, she accepted. Max left his wife and son and after Tanya gave birth to their daughter Lauren on 29 March 1994, they married on 6 August 1994.
Tanya was unaware that Max had started an affair with Stacey Slater in December 2006, but she began to grow suspicious of his strange behavior. At Peggy Mitchell's birthday party, Tanya got slightly drunk, and ended up getting into a fight with Stacey, until Max and Sean broke them up. In the pub toilets, Sean kissed Tanya until Tanya stopped it, thinking of her marriage. Max broke off his affair with Stacey and temporarily relocated his family to Spain. During their absence, Stacey and Bradley became engaged, and Tanya was delighted to welcome Stacey into the family. In August 2007, Tanya received a visit from her sister Rainie, a drug addict who claimed that she was clean now. Tanya gave her a choice between taking some money that Tanya had withdrawn from the bank earlier that day or staying and getting help for her addiction. Rainie waited until Tanya was distracted to take the money and leave. Sean later uncovered Max and Stacey's affair when he saw them together but did not tell Tanya as he did not want to hurt her. He asked her to leave Walford with him, and Tanya said if she was not married then she might.
In December 2007, Tanya gave birth to a baby boy, Oscar, which Max delivered. Relations between them temporarily improved, until on Christmas Day, Bradley and Stacey's wedding video was played, and the Slaters and Brannings saw footage of Max kissing Stacey. Tanya was horrified and decided to leave with Lauren, Abi and Oscar. Max begged her to stay, claiming the affair only lasted a short time. Tanya eventually decided she would stay because of the children, but decided Max was the one who should leave. After a struggle on the stairs Tanya slipped and hit her head, she soon got up and told Max to leave which he then did. In January 2008, Rainie returned, saying she had given up drugs, and returned Tanya's money. Max called Social Services and Rainie was told to take a drugs test, which revealed that she was taking cannabis. Tanya asked her to leave for Lauren, Abi and Oscar's sake. Around February, Tanya began a full relationship with Sean, which initially she kept hidden from her children. Max and Tanya's divorce hearing took place on Valentine's day 2008. Abi had burnt the original copy of the implicating DVD and Tanya's solicitor's assistant stole a back-up copy of the DVD after being paid by Max.
In late February, Abi invited Max to Tanya's birthday. He was jealous of her flirting with Sean, and spiked her drink, causing her to inadvertently reveal her new relationship to her children. Max took the children home with him, and refused to allow Tanya to reclaim them, intent on turning them against her. In March, Tanya started a wicked plot with Sean to get revenge on Max. She accepted Max back into the family home on the greedy proviso that he sign everything over to her so that if he were to cheat again, she and the children would not be left penniless. Max thought they were back together as a couple, but Tanya had no intention of a reunion. She planned to take everything Max has got and then leave him for good. She prepared a meal for Max, spiking his wine with crushed pills. When he collapsed, she and Sean took him in a van to some deserted woodland, where Sean had dug a hole and placed a coffin in it. They put Max in the coffin and left him, seemingly to die. However, Tanya later felt guilty and returned to dig Max up. He attacked her, but she fought off his advances. He asked her why she had come back, and she broke down. He broke down with her, and decided to leave to avoid her any more pain. Tanya then ended her relationship with Sean, admitting that she had been using him all along.
She formed a friendship with her brother in law, Jack Branning. Sean noticing the attraction between Tanya and Jack, warned Tanya that he would kill any man she grew close to. Tanya was unsettled but this did not stop her having lunch with Jack. When Lauren and Abi pressed her to dance with Jack, she did so but drew back because of the chemistry. Tanya was then pursued by an irate Sean who broke into her house when she refused him entry. Tanya reasoned with Sean and told him he needed to find someone else to save him because she couldn't. He eventually accepted this and left. Jack backed off and Tanya was confused by his coldness until she learnt Dot Branning had warned him off. She reassured Jack he could continue to visit her and the girls. Jack came to see Tanya, admitting he refused to go to Ibiza with Ronnie on her account. She was horrified when he tried to kiss her and threw him out. Seeing Abi watching a video of Max, she assured Abi she didn't mind Abi missing her dad. After talking to her friend Jane Beale, Tanya tracked Jack down only to witness Maggie coming on to him. Displeased, she said he was as bad as Max but she eventually changed her mind. She went to Jack's flat and apologised for comparing him to his brother. They kissed passionately and ended up sleeping together. Since then they have nearly broken up twice. The first when Tanya said her girls had been through so much but then said she couldn't go back to the way it was. The second when Abi received a birthday card from Max and Jack was suspicious of Tanya. She later found her brother-in-law going through her handbag and said that if there's no trust then there's no relationship.
Later she had a row with Abi after she was caught faking a high temperature to get the same treatment as her ill sister, Lauren, leading to Abi running away. She called Jack for his help. Jack found her but was forced to carry her home leaving Abi in great distress. Jack went round to Tanya's to try make it up to Abi. He turned round to Tanya and said "if you're willing to give it another go" and she smiled at him. Tanya later saw Abi crying upstairs and told her about the deal she made with Max that if she ever needed him, she just had to text him saying "come home". Later on, Jack took the family to the club and Abi took Tanya's phone. She went to the toilets and texted Max asking him to come home. Later at Abi's 12th birthday party, Tanya asked Jack if he was sure that he wanted to take on the responsibility of a family. Jack revealed to Tanya that her, the girls and Oscar were all he wanted, and that he'd been waiting his whole life for this. Later on at the party, just as Abi had blown out the candles on her cake, the lights in the living room were switched on to reveal Max standing at the door. Both Tanya and Jack were shocked to see him back. When Max tried to beg Tanya to take him back, she revealed to him that she was seeing someone else - his brother Jack. A furious Max confronts Jack about the affair, but they start having a brawl. When Tanya chooses Jack over Max, they both embrace each other while a sad, rejected Max stands outside of Jack's doorstep, also seeing Bradley and Stacey reunite when they kissed.
Max then took it upon himself to spitefully announce Tanya and Jack's relationship to everyone in the Queen Vic, including Dot, who asked that it not be mentioned to Jack and Max's father Jim Branning as it might set him back from his recovery of his stroke.
The following day, Max announced to Tanya and Jack that the house Tanya and his children were residing in was now owned by him. He informed them that he had struck a deal with the former house owner Ruby Allen who was selling the house and gave Max the first chance to buy. However, Jack phoned Ruby and gave a higher offer which was accepted. Jack then suggested to Tanya that he move in with her and the kids. Tanya was initially unsure of the idea, worrying that their relationship was moving too fast, but after she spoke to Jane about it her friend convinced her to give it a go, saying that she had never seen Tanya happier than when she was with Jack. Tanya told Jack he could move in, much to the displeasure of younger daughter Abi.
Since then Tanya has yet again had doubts over her relationship with Jack, beginning on the day when Jack began to move his stuff over to her house. Both of them ended up in an argument with Max in the middle of the street which was only stopped from becoming violent when Lauren arrived home from her school trip, shocked to see her father and uncle almost coming to blows. Lauren's disappointment of her mother's failure to tell her that her Dad was back on the Square, and that she was now seeing her uncle, affected Tanya deeply and she revealed to Lauren that it was with her, over all her children, that she had always felt she had the strongest bond. She told Lauren that she would end her relationship with Jack if that was what she wanted, but Lauren told her mother that she just wanted her to be happy. Realising that all of the events in the past few months were having an adverse effect on her kids, Tanya asked Max to come to a lunch so they could disuss the children but let him know that Jack would be there too as she now considered him part of her family. Max was angered by this and so brought Jack's ex-girlfriend Ronnie Mitchell to the lunch as his date. Tanya became upset at what she considered to be another one of Max's "games" and, after an argument, left the restaurant in tears. Max went after her and once again told her his belief that Jack would hurt her far worse than he ever did. He swore that though he knew things were over between them, he didn't want to see her being hurt yet again. Tanya appeared to have taken in what he said. She then went to see Ronnie, who told her that she had no idea that Max was taking her to gatecrash their lunch. Tanya understood and warned Ronnie to stay away from Max as he was trouble. Ronnie gave Tanya some advice of her own, and told her that Jack and Max were like two peas in a pod and were exactly the same. She revealed to Tanya the real reasons behind Jack's daughter Penny Branning being in a wheelchair, which Tanya had not known. Tanya then confronted Jack about what he'd kept from her and told him that she needed a few days away from him to clear her head. Jack agreed but told Tanya that Max had succeeded in poisoning her against him.
Not one to give up easily and becoming increasingly annoyed at Max's jibes that he was once again on his own, Jack told Tanya that he wanted to whisk her away on a holiday. Tanya seemed extremley uncertain and unconvinced but relented when Jack told her that she was letting Max win. Tanya and the kids set off on a holiday to Barbados with Jack, but not before Tanya asked him whether Max had been alright with the arrangement. Jack, who hadn't told Max and instead left him a note attached to a meal-for-one, lied and told Tanya that Max was fine about it, and a believing Tanya set off with him and her children.
On September 1 2008, Tanya, Jack and the kids returned. Tanya returned to work only to find Suzy working there, Clare had left and Chelsea had been employed again. Angry at this, Tanya sacked Suzy hastily and was told by Jack that she would only upset things between her and Max even more. Later that day, in the Vic, Tanya offered Suzy her job back.
On September 2008, Max inadvertantly let Tanya find the real reason why Jack's daughter Penny is left paralysed. When Jack receives a call from ex wife Selina with a suspicious Tanya worrying about whats going on. When she confronts him about him and Selina's marriage, he denies that he has a dark secret about Penny. But when he threw a letter in a bin, she decided to seek the truth. Jack saw her running from the hotel where she had thought she had tracked down Selina, who had departed. When Tayna got back to her house, her and Jack had an argument as Jack would not tell her the truth about Penny's accident and she told him she wanted him out of her house as she couldn't take another liar. Jack smashed a picture frame against the wall in his anger. Tanya went round to Max's flat and went back on her decision, telling Max that Jack and her were partners for life and there was nothing he could do. She then told Jack that he could stay, on the condition of no more lies. Tanya then told Jack she wanted to move out of Walford.
The character has been pivotal in the transformation of EastEnders. Christmas Day 2007 saw Tanya discover husband Max and step daughter in law Stacey's affair. This was witnessed by over 14.3 million viewers. The highest rated EastEnders episode in three years and the highest rated television broadcast of 2007. In April 2008 11.7 million viewers witnessed Tanya bury husband Max alive although the episode received over 600 complaints, it is currently the most watched EastEnders episode of 2008 and the storyline has received countless award nominations. It is also one of the highest rated broadcasts of 2008 beaten only by the Britain's Got Talent finale and an episode of Coronation Street in which popular character Vera Duckworth died.
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