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Jake Wood has teased a potential return to EastEnders and insisted that he "never got bored" of Max Branning after 15 years of playing Albert Square's bad boy.
Speaking in a new interview, the actor, 49, admitted that he was "pleased" that soap bosses had "left the door open" and cryptically added: "Never say never!"
Jake shocked EastEnders fans when he left the hit BBC One soap earlier this year in February after his character first stepped foot in Walford in 2006.
During his time on programme, Jake's character Max was part of several shocking storylines which included numerous affairs, being wrongly imprisoned for the murder of Lucy Beale and even buried alive by ex-wife Tanya Cross.
Talking to Mirror, Jake said: "I never got bored playing him… Although the scene when I was buried alive was tough. It was hard graft, but I’m really pleased that they’ve left the door open for the character to return. Never say never."
He added: "Max felt very real to me. He was just a guy who didn’t know happiness when he had it. He wanted to be a better dad than his dad had been to him but for whatever reason he couldn’t see what was under his nose, the grass was always greener. I always found that tragic.
"Yeah I liked him. That’s one of the reasons I was there 15 years."
Since the character's exit, Linda Carter, played by Kellie Bright, has discovered that she is pregnant with Max's baby, which soap fans have predicted as a possible return storyline.
After the shocking bombshell was revealed earlier this year, soap watchers took to Twitter to share their theories.
One person said: "I wonder if Max will come back if he finds out about the baby #EastEnders."
While another fan added: "#EastEnders Max would be back like a shot if he knew."
Elsewhere, it was recently revealed that EastEnders' usual scheduling slots are about to be bumped once more due to a summer of sport.
During the Euros, soap fans had to watch the latest instalments from Albert Square either late in the evening or on BBC iPlayer – meaning that they were in more danger than usual of spoilers as a week's worth of episodes were released at once.
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The football might be over, but the Walford residents are only briefly back in their home slots as the soap's schedules are about to be thrown into chaos again when the Olympics gets under way later this month.
With the BBC prioritising broadcasts from Tokyo to follow British athletes' efforts at the Olympics, EastEnders has been relegated to second place for the second time this summer.
Rather than airing at its normal times of 7pm or 8pm, the soap will go out at 9.05pm or 9pm from July 26 and will continue offering the iPlayer box sets until August.
EastEnders continues on Thursday night at 7:35pm on BBC One.
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