Scott Maslen as Jack Branning (2008)
|Portrayed by||Scott Maslen|
|Introduced by||Diederick Santer|
|First appearance||29 October 2007|
|Classification||Present; regular (departing)|
|Date of birth||5 September 1972|
Jack Branning is a fictional character from the BBC soap opera EastEnders, played by Scott Maslen. He made his first appearance on 29 October 2007. He is the youngest child of Jim and Reenie Branning and the brother of April Branning, Carol Jackson, Derek Branning, Suzy Branning and Max Branning. The character was introduced to the show during a period when EastEnders was being routinely criticised in the media for its reliance on resurrecting old characters. The casting of Scott Maslen provoked some controversy, being the first time an actor had been poached from one mainstream soap to another. It was quickly established that Jack is a morally ambiguous character, with a murky past in the police force resulting in the paralysis of his young daughter. Tabloid media have praised the character for his role as resident Romeo, commenting frequently on his good looks and attractiveness, although broadsheet press have been more critical of Maslen's acting. Maslen will leave the role later in 2013.
Jack is the youngest child of Jim (John Bardon) and Reenie Branning (Joy Graham) and brother of Derek (Terence Beesley; Jamie Foreman), Carol (Lindsey Coulson), April (Debbie Arnold), Suzy (Julie Christian-Young; Maggie O'Neill) and Max (Jake Wood). Having grown up in a large family in a poor area of East London, Jack regularly fought his older brother, Max, for the attentions of his father who was an alcoholic. He was very close friends with Michael Moon, another local East End boy and went to school with him, and had a closer relationship with him than he did with his brothers. As a teenager, Jack stole his grandfather's World War II medal, knowing that it was Jim's prized possession as his father had died in combat when he was only six years old, and framed Max, causing a huge rift between Jim and Max and resulting in Max walking out in 1989. Despite Max and Jack being arch-rivals, they kept in touch as Jack was present at Max's wedding to Tanya Cross (Jo Joyner) in 1994 and watched his nieces Lauren (Madeline Duggan/Jacqueline Jossa) and Abi (Lorna Fitzgerald) grow up.
Jack settled down with Selina (Daisy Beaumont) and on marrying, they had a daughter, Penny. Jack built a career in the police force but got involved in criminal activities and when they backfired, one of Jack's informants knocked Selina and Penny down in revenge for being accidentally sent down. Penny's spinal cord was severed, putting her in a wheelchair, and in the aftermath, Jack and Selina divorced and Jack retired from the police force.
Jack comes to Walford for his nephew Bradley Branning's (Charlie Clements) wedding to Stacey Slater (Lacey Turner). Upon his arrival, Jack soaks Ronnie Mitchell (Samantha Womack) when driving through a puddle, so she soaks him with her water bottle. A fight with Max leads to Jack's wedding invitation being revoked so he stays at The Queen Victoria public house and helps Ronnie's sister Roxy Mitchell (Rita Simons) prepare for the reception. Deciding to stay, Jack comes between Ronnie and Roxy when he buys Scarlet Nightclub and offers Ronnie a partnership. Jack causes more disruption in the Mitchell family when he sets up Ronnie's cousin, Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden), by taping him confessing to his part in Kevin Wicks's (Phil Daniels) death. Jack blackmails Phil with this, demanding the car lot for his silence, which he then rents to Pat Evans (Pam St. Clement). Despite the Mitchells' animosity, Jack develops an attraction to Ronnie, and a relationship starts. The other Mitchells, particularly Roxy, try to end the relationship. Jack's ex-wife, Selina, reappears briefly and they have sex, which Roxy discovers and tells Ronnie, who is due to live with Jack. Ronnie ends the relationship. They reconcile but Ronnie does not trust Jack and struggles to bond with his daughter, Penny. Jack and Roxy have sex while drunk. They agree to conceal this, but Roxy is pregnant and later gives birth to Jack's daughter Amy Mitchell (Amelie Conway).
Jack romances Tanya, who is now separated from Max. Jack supports Tanya and her children as they strive to cope after discovering Max's affair with Stacey and his departure. When Max returns, he is furious to discover they are together. Max attempts to buy the family home but Jack outbids him, buying 5 Albert Square and sharing residence with Tanya and the children. Max tries to break them up but is unsuccessful. Max frames Jack, claiming Jack tried to kill him. Jack is arrested but soon released, due to his connections in the police force. In revenge, Jack takes Max hostage, beating and taunting him before abandoning him in an old warehouse. That night, Max is hit by a car and Jack is the main suspect. Max's daughter, Lauren, later confesses to her family, but Tanya tells the police she did it and is arrested. Tanya is forced to split from Jack. Jack demands a DNA test on Amy, Roxy's daughter. Reluctantly agreeing, Roxy assures him that her husband Sean Slater (Robert Kazinsky) is Amy's father. Jack concentrates on re-building his relationship with Ronnie, with whom he now shares a flat. However, Jack's sister Suzy reveals the true result, that Jack is Amy's father. Furious, Sean snatches Amy and persuades Roxy to join him on a trip but Sean tries to kill them by driving into a frozen lake. Jack and Ronnie save Roxy and Amy. Roxy tells Jack that he will have no contact with Amy and Ronnie refuses to reconcile with him. Jack tries establishing regular contact with Amy, leading Ronnie to leave Walford. Racing to the airport to stop her, Jack tells Ronnie that he loves her over the airport tannoy. They return to Walford together and Roxy agrees not to interfere. Ronnie and Jack discuss the possibility of a baby but he refuses, telling her she needs to grieve for her dead daughter, Danielle Jones (Lauren Crace). Jack asks Ronnie to marry him but catches her piercing condoms. They argue, and Jack leaves, but finds Ronnie's ring on the table when he returns. After telling Jack that Ronnie has left Walford for good, Roxy tries seducing Jack but he pushes her away. When Ronnie returns, Jack begs her to reunite with him, but she refuses. A few weeks later, she asks him to buy her out of the nightclub and to fund this, Jack sells the car lot to Archie Mitchell (Larry Lamb), Ronnie's father (who she despises). This distances Ronnie further from Jack.
The feud between Jack and Phil recommences. Phil discovers that Jack is dealing drugs and when Shirley Carter (Linda Henry) buys drugs from one of his contacts, Phil forces Jack to buy them back. Humiliated, Jack employs Phil's sister Sam Mitchell (Danniella Westbrook), infuriating Phil. Despite knowing she is engaged to Ricky Butcher (Sid Owen), Jack and Sam begin an affair. Archie intervenes and pays Jack to keep seeing Sam, part of his plan to take over The Queen Victoria pub. He also tells Jack's niece/Ricky's ex-wife Bianca (Patsy Palmer) about the affair. Later, Bianca drags Sam into The Queen Victoria and forces her to tell Ricky (in front of her uncle Jack) about the affair she was having. Jack is distraught as Roxy was about to give him Ronnie's address but when the affair is revealed, Roxy changes her mind and throws him out of the pub. Ronnie gets pregnant but she has a miscarriage when Archie pushes her against the bar in the pub during an argument. Jack comforts Ronnie and takes in Ronnie, Roxy and Amy when they are made homeless by Archie. Jack confronts Archie on Christmas Day and threatens to kill him if he hurts Ronnie again. Archie is murdered that day and an investigation begins. Four weeks later, Jack asks Ronnie to dinner, to which she agrees but not until after Archie's funeral. At the funeral, Jack offers DC Wayne Hughes (Jamie Treacher) to help with any "local information" he might need. He later sees Ronnie tearing up the flowers on Archie's grave and asks her why and she thinks he is accusing her of murder. She later sees him talking to DCI Jill Marsden (Sophie Stanton), who is investigating the murder. Ronnie asks Jack how he would feel if he knew she had killed Archie, leading him to suspect her. At his great niece Tiffany Dean's (Maisie Smith) birthday party, he cuts his hand and Tiffany tells him that she saw Bradley washing blood off his hands on Christmas Day. Jack confronts Bradley who eventually reveals that he found out from Stacey on Christmas Day that Archie had raped and impregnated her, and Bradley punched Archie.
Jack urges Bradley to go to the police, saying if he doesn't, Jack will. However, Max stops him and when DNA screening starts and Bradley gives a sample, Jack bribes Hughes to make the DNA samples disappear. Janine is arrested when someone plants Archie's mother's missing engagement ring in her flat, and Jack hears from Hughes when she is being released. Jack offers Janine money to leave Walford and they accuse each other. He says he did not set her up and Ryan Malloy (Neil McDermott) stops him from hurting Janine. Later, Jack receives another call from Hughes to say that someone has reported Bradley and he is about to be arrested. Jack tells Bradley he must leave Walford quickly, and says he will meet them soon and help them to go. However, Jack is delayed by police and when Bradley realises he has left his passport behind, he returns to the Square where police see him and chase him to the roof of The Queen Victoria, where he stumbles and falls to his death.
Jack begins a relationship with Chelsea Fox (Tiana Benjamin) after helping her escape from a blind date. He organises a party his niece Lauren at R&R, where Kylie (Elarica Gallacher) attempts to shoot Jack's nephew Billie (Devon Anderson) but Jack is shot instead as he pushes Billie out of the way. Jack is taken to hospital, where doctors tell his family he may be left with severe brain damage. He is put in a medically induced coma and undergoes an operation due to swelling on his brain, which is successful. When he is brought out of the coma, it is discovered that he is paralysed down the left side of his body but it is not clear whether it is periodic or permanent. Jack then breaks up with Chelsea and attempts to phone Ronnie, but she does not hear her phone ringing as she is spending time with Jack's consultant, Mr Steele (Simon Wilson). He starts to feel helpless and wants to give up, but after Max refuses to help him, he puts his phone out of reach and manages to pull himself up with one arm.
Max reveals to Jack that he saw Ronnie and Mr Steele kissing, so Jack punches Mr Steele out of jealousy. When Ronnie discovers this, she dumps Mr Steele and rushes to see Jack, telling him that if he were to propose, she would not turn him down. Billie visits Jack to apologise, but Jack ignores his apology as it has taken him weeks to visit him, calling him cowardly. Billie leaves in tears and then joins the army to make Jack proud of him. Ronnie visits again and is told that Jack was able to move his toe earlier. She thinks Jack needs better care so decides to find him a place at a private clinic. Jack later hears from Max that there has been a fire at the club, and Ronnie tells him he is going to the clinic. However, she decides not to claim on the insurance to keep Billy Mitchell (Perry Fenwick) out of trouble. Roxy hears from Max that Ronnie has no money and is not claiming, so she decides to pay for Jack's treatment and he is moved to the private clinic. Jack makes decent progress and when Ronnie visits him, they end up having sex. A few days later, having been discharged from hospital, Jack turns up in The Queen Victoria for Ronnie's birthday. Later, when they return to his flat, Jack asks Ronnie to marry him and she accepts. When he finds out that Archie raped Ronnie when she was 13 years old, he finds it hard to believe at first because she would have known about it for several years without telling anybody, however, he tells Ronnie he does believe her and vows to not let anyone hurt her again. He becomes frustrated when his progress at physiotherapy slows down. He is determined to walk at his own wedding but Max says he never will, and makes him angry, goading him into getting out of his wheelchair.
Ronnie discovers that Sam is pregnant and tells Jack, asking if it could be his even though Sam insists it is Ricky's. After the baby is born, Sam admits she is unsure. Jack and Ronnie visit Sam and the baby in hospital. Even though Sam now says that baby, Richard, is Ricky's, Bianca tells Jack he should see if Richard is his. He and Ronnie both agree and tell Sam, and Ricky also agrees to a paternity test. Ronnie tells Jack whatever the result is, they will be okay. Sam reveals that the paternity test confirmed Ricky as the father. Ronnie and Jack are relieved and Ronnie reveals that she is pregnant with Jack's baby. However, a suspicious Bianca gets the paternity results for herself, and reveals that the father is actually Jack. Sam then tells them that Ronnie made her lie. Ronnie tells Jack she did not want to share him with anyone else, and Jack understands. Later, Sam visits Jack and Ronnie saying she cannot cope with the baby on her own, and asks them to have him. Ronnie and Jack agree but when they are due to meet, Sam does not turn up. Ronnie visits Sam and tells her to keep Richard but offers her money to leave Walford as when Jack finds out he will come looking for her. Ronnie returns to Jack but finds Sam has already dropped Richard off. Ronnie then meets Sam with cash and tells her to take Richard back but she will have to leave straight away. Sam leaves the next day.
Before Billie's birthday, he visits Jack but Jack tells him to leave, however, he goes to Billie's party. Billie and Kylie's friend Connor Stanley (Arinze Kene) turns up and apologises to Jack on behalf of Kylie. Kylie is sentenced to 15 years in prison. The day before Jack and Ronnie's wedding, Jack helps Max take revenge on Harry Gold (Linal Haft) who is harassing his ex-wife Vanessa (Zoe Lucker), Max's girlfriend. They threaten Harry and tell him to stay away, but afterwards Jack is grabbed by two men and bundled into a car. The next day, nobody is able to find Jack but Max finds his phone. He drives Ronnie to the wedding and finds Jack in the boot of the wedding car, tied up and gagged. Max frees him and Jack and Ronnie get married. After, they leave for their honeymoon. After the honeymoon, Jack goes abroad on business and is unable to return to see Ronnie give birth to their son James. Before Jack returns, James dies due to cot death but Ronnie swaps their dead baby with Alfie (Shane Richie) and Kat Moon's (Jessie Wallace) newborn baby, Tommy. Jack is introduced to Tommy as his own son, and bonds with him. However, he worries about Ronnie's state of mind when she struggles to cope. Jack sells his share in R&R and goes into business with Max at the car lot, renaming it Branning Brothers. He then meets Michael Moon (Steve John Shepherd), Alfie's cousin who he knows from his youth, and invites him to stay but Ronnie finds out Michael is Tommy's real father and tells Jack to kick him out, which Jack eventually does. When Jack announces he and Michael are opening a boxing club, Ronnie is infuriated, so she lies that Michael came onto her. Jack punches Michael but Michael tells him that Ronnie is obsessed with him and has stolen a passport photo of him, which Jack later finds with Ronnie's things. He confronts her, but says is she does not know why she took it, but insists she does not want Michael near the baby. He quits the car lot to look after the boxing club full-time. He starts to worry about Ronnie's erratic behaviour. Eventually, she tells Jack that he is not the father, and hands Tommy back to Kat and Alfie. Tommy is taken into care and Jack says an emotional goodbye, while Ronnie is in police custody. Jack visits her in prison, but she tells him to forget he ever met her and find someone else. Jack goes into deep depression and begins drinking heavily. He meets Rainie Cross (Tanya Franks) in the club and they have a one-night stand; however, Jack throws Rainie out the following morning. Max tries to help him along with Carol but he brutally beats Max but they reconcile the day after on Max's birthday. He discovers Ronnie has been released on bail, and decides to forgive her, asking her to move back in.
On the day of Ronnie's hearing, Jack attempts to flee the country with her, and stay in Mexico. Michael frames her by taking Roxy's mobile and asking her to meet at the park. She finds Tommy alone and crying, and attempts to help him. Kat and Alfie then see Ronnie holding Tommy with disbelief, and after slapping her and getting Tommy back off her, Kat says that she'll be laughing as Ronnie rots in jail. Later, Roxy finds out Michael did, in fact, frame Ronnie and he later admits this to her and Kat. At the hearing, Ronnie is sentenced to 3 years in prison but Kat changes her mind and decides she doesn't want her to go to prison. Kat then runs over to Ronnie and says she forgives her, and that she agrees that they are the same. The two hold their hands to each other separated by the glass. Ronnie is then taken away, leaving Jack devastated. Jack continually tries to visit Ronnie in prison, but she refuses to see him. Michael taunts Jack by claiming he slept with Ronnie, and Jack beats him up in the toilets of The Queen Victoria. The fight is secretly witnessed by Michael's father Eddie Moon (David Essex) but he walks away as he thinks Michael set his stock on fire. Though Jack and Michael repair their friendship, Jack is dismayed when Michael organises an unlicensed boxing fight between his brother Tyler Moon (Tony Discipline) and a seemingly unbeatable and violent opponent, all as part of Michael's revenge on his father. Though Tyler wins the fight, he is hospitalised, and the friendship between Jack and Michael is strained further.
Roxy goes on a night out with friends, leaving Ben Mitchell (Joshua Pascoe) babysitting Amy. When he leaves Amy alone for a while to get a DVD from Jack's flat, Amy runs herself a bath, gets in and almost drowns. When Ben discovers her, Dr Yusef Khan (Ace Bhatti) is called and he revives her. When Jack arrives, he accompanies Amy to the hospital who is still in a critical condition. The next day, Roxy arrives, and Jack accuses her of being neglectful. Jack then tells a social worker about Roxy's past and her family. After interviewing Roxy, the social worker awards temporary custody of Amy to Jack. He refuses to give Roxy access to Amy other than at pre-arranged times, and is annoyed when his niece Abi Branning (Lorna Fitzgerald) allows Roxy to see Amy. When Abi tells Jack how her family is falling apart, Jack vows to bring Max back to Walford, as he left following the revelation of his affair with Tanya when she was married to Greg Jessop (Stefan Booth). Max returns to Walford with their brother Derek (Jamie Foreman). Jack is pleased to see Derek, but is concerned when it is revealed that Tanya has cancer. The court decides to award custody of Amy to Jack, however Roxy vows to appeal the decision. When Phil receives a text message saying "I know you killed Kevin", Phil believes Jack is behind the message, so confronts him. Jack denies this, and when he goes to give Phil the recording, he finds it missing, along with a file on all of Phil's past misdemeanors, including a newspaper clipping of the death of Steve Owen (Martin Kemp). Phil continues to suspect Jack however, and has Jack's car crushed as a warning. In revenge, Jack prevents Roxy from seeing Amy. Roxy then tells Jack that Ronnie is filing for a divorce from him.
Amy starts pinching and scratching other children at nursery, and Whitney Dean (Shona McGarty) tells Roxy and Jack about this. They later talk and agree to not argue in front of Amy. Roxy realises it is the first time they have spoken properly since Amy was born, and they start to compliment each other as parents, which leads to sex. They continue with the custody battle, and Roxy soon discovers that Jack forged her signature to get Amy a passport. Roxy threatens to report this, and Jack drops the case so Roxy gains custody of Amy. Derek then continues to urge Jack to use dirty tactics to get Amy back, but makes things worse by telling Jack lies. Eventually, Derek pays a friend to have Roxy killed, but this does not happen and Jack confronts Derek saying that anything that happens to Roxy also happens to Amy. When Jack apologises to Roxy, she punches him and says that he is an unfit parent, saying that Penny is proof of this. Jack agrees and tells Max that he will not allow what happened to Penny happen to Amy.
Denise Fox (Diane Parish) poaches the builder that Jack has hired. Jack argues with Denise, leading to her barring him from the Minute Mart. He later accidentally soaks her with water when washing his car. Jack then agrees to go on a blind date set up by Tanya and Zainab Masood (Nina Wadia), but is horrified when he discovers it is with Denise. After the pair throw insults at one another, Denise throws water in his face and storms out. Jack later expresses his attraction to Sharon Watts (Letitia Dean), who has jilted her fiancé John Hewland (Jesse Birdsall). They flirt and when Sharon is desperate for money, he buys her engagement ring. Sharon decides to stay at the B&B, but Jack invites her to stay at his flat, where they have sex. Sharon constantly seduces him afterwards and on Sharon's terms, knowing about her addiction to painkillers, they start dating. However, their relationship starts to shake when Sharon agrees to a plan in order to gain custody of Lola Pearce's (Danielle Harold) baby, pretending to be Phil's fiancée, which makes Jack jealous; however, the lie becomes too much for Phil, so Sharon stops playing the part. Jack and the rest of his family fall out with his brother Derek (Jamie Foreman), and when he suffers a heart attack on Christmas Day, he, along with Max, Kat and Derek's son Joey (David Witts), do nothing to help him as he suffers. Jack tries to pull the group together in hiding this from the police. Phil jaunts the fact that he is still in love with Sharon to Jack on New Year's Eve, prompting a paranoid Jack to propose to her in an argument. However, on the same night, Phil proposes also, but Sharon says yes to Jack. However, he is still unnerved by Phil and sees him an opponent for his lover. When Sharon's son, Dennis Rickman Jr (Harry Hickles) starts a fight at school, Jack admits he taught Dennis to box, angering Sharon.
Jack Branning was one of several new characters to join the EastEnders cast in the second half of 2007. At a time when the show was undergoing media criticism for its resurrection of old characters, John Yorke, the BBC's controller of drama production, defended the show's ability to create interesting, new characters. He praised the show's executive producer Diederick Santer for his development of new, "strong characters", including Jack Branning, and Roxy and Ronnie Mitchell. Speaking of this new wave of characters, he stated: "It feels like a new dynasty is emerging, which is important."
Prior to his introduction in October 2007, the character was referred to once, a week before his arrival. He is a member of the soap's Branning family; his sister Carol first appeared in the serial in 1993, while father Jim had appeared from 1996. More recently, brother Max and his own family were introduced in June 2006.
It was first announced on 13 July 2007 that actor Scott Maslen had been cast in the role of Jack. Previously best known for his role as DS Phil Hunter in ITV police drama The Bill, the media were quick to pick up on the fact his new role was notably similar - with TV critic Jane Simon sarcastically commenting: "What a relief it must be for actor Scott Maslen to get a role that allows him to show off his incredible versatility." Maslen himself pointed out that the character of Jack was actually higher ranking than Phil Hunter, joking: "I've been promoted from playing a DS in Sun Hill!" Maslen's casting marked the first time an established actor had been poached from one mainstream soap to another. Speaking for the first time about his new role, Maslen said: "I was very sad to leave The Bill but after five years I wanted to explore new opportunities. The Bill afforded me some fantastic storylines. I'm really looking forward to playing Jack. He's an extremely competitive man who likes to win in business and in pleasure!"
Upon announcing his casting, Maslen described the character of Jack as "an extremely competitive man who always likes to win in business and in pleasure". He mentioned that there would be an "instant attraction" between Jack and fellow newcomer Ronnie Mitchell, and explained that he already had a longstanding friendship with Samantha Janus who plays Ronnie, having known her since he was 16 years old, and being godfather to her children.
The relationship between the two characters developed quickly from friendship to romance, with Janus commenting that due to her friendship with Maslen; "Our first kissing scene felt really uncomfortable, it was terrible, but we're over it now." Several media publications commented on the fact that the attraction between the two characters had been obvious, and bound to develop into more than a professional relationship.
As the character's personality developed, questions were raised over whether his intentions and motivations were good or bad, with Maslen explaining: "I call him amoral; neither good nor bad. He gets what he wants out of the situation but that isn’t necessarily just a selfish thing. He’s not an evil character, but if there are people that are threatening him, his business or his family, he will do whatever he needs to do to eliminate that problem."
In April 2011, it was reported by The Sun that Jack would have a one-night stand in May after trying to get over the loss of his son. It was said that Jack would return to his wild ways and bed Tanya's sister, Rainie Cross (Tanya Franks). An insider said, "Jack's a real mess. He's lost his son and his wife. Rainie is there for him."
In February 2013, it was announced that Maslen had quit his role as Jack and would leave the show later in the year at the end of his current contract. Maslen said, "I've loved playing Jack, and who wouldn't want to work on one of the most successful British TV series, but I've been offered many other roles and just not been able to explore them in the past, simply because of time and commitments to EastEnders, and so now it feels like the time to tread a new path for a while. I've played Jack for five and a half years and had some fantastic storylines, but it's now time to have a break from him and try something different. I'm incredibly attached to Jack, his family and EastEnders, but as an actor I'd like to take on some new challenges for a bit. EastEnders is just incredible, it's phenomenally rewarding and I love working here, but now it's time to move on to pastures new." Executive produced Lorraine Newman said, "Since October 2007, Scott Maslen has brought the wonderful Jack Branning to life on our screens. From Scott's heart-wrenching portrayal of a grieving father, to Jack's determination in the coming week to take on Phil Mitchell, the variety in Scott's material shows his fabulous range as an actor. Scott will remain on your screens until late in the year, and there is plenty more drama to be played out before his departure."
Much media response to the character has centred around Maslen's good looks, with the Daily Express commenting: "At last. Someone remotely attractive comes to Albert Square." The Mirror similarly referred to him as "the new hunk on the Square", as well as "the hottest property on EastEnders". Inside Soap praised Maslen's transition between roles, declaring his performance as Jack to be "flawless". However, The Times were more critical, writing of 2007's New Year's Eve episode: "The alleged erotic tension between Ronnie Mitchell (Samantha Janus) and Jack Branning (Scott Maslen) was so underplayed as to be invisible."
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