Jo Joyner: 'Mum was the best teacher I could have'
Jo Joyner talks about being EastEnders mum Tanya Branning and tells TV Times magazine what joy her own twins have brought her... How are your 17-month-old twins? “Motherhood is every bit as wonderful as I thought it would be and more. It can be pretty full on with the two of them, but they’re such lovely, sweet kids. Fred’s a real chatterbox and Edie’s a little sweetie.” How did you decide on IVF? “We wanted a family and adoption was an option. But in the end we decided to give IVF three tries and if it didn’t work out, we’d reassess. It’s a miracle really. Being a mum is amazing and I feel like the luckiest woman alive. My favourite times are when the four of us are together. Especially at bath and bed time, when they’re both running about naked, blowing raspberries on each other’s bellies and chasing each other up and down the landing, squealing with laughter and cuddling us both.” What was it like returning to work? “It’s nice to go back to work and try and find some kind of balance. It’s not so much leaving them that’s hard, it’s when you have a long day and think you won’t get back until after they’ve gone to bed. That’s hard.” Do you feel maternal towards your screen children as well? “Yes, I feel so maternal towards Lorna [Fitzgerald], Jacqueline [Jossa] and the boys Neo and Charlie who play Oscar. I feel very proud of the girls when I watch their stuff. They are such fantastic actresses. Lorna will tell you I’m probably just as embarrassing as any real mum!” Despite all that's happened, do you feel Tanya has always been a good mum? “Yes, she’s like all mums – she doesn’t always get it right and with a busy working life and a new relationship, she can sometimes be guilty of not being aware of what is going on in her kids’ lives. But ultimately, those children are her number one priority.” What about your upcoming wedding to Greg (Stefan Booth)? “Tanya will always love Max, but he has caused her so much heartache and pain. She’ll be safe with Greg. He’s the right man for Tanya at the moment. Women like Tanya can’t help but love a wrong ‘un though, so I do worry that Greg might turn out to be too nice. Poor Greg! But at the moment she’s happy. I don’t think she wants any more kids though. Greg is great with the ones she has and they already feel like a family. I’m pleased for her and I’m so glad about the wedding as I have always wanted an EastEnders wedding. We’ve given it plenty of East End sparkle, too – there are some very bright pinks and a sparkly tiara.” Did playing Tanya prepare you at all for your own children? “How could it? With Oscar, I’d ask the props lads for a bottle to wave about in the scene, give him a cuddle and then hand him back to his mum. But, when I had the twins, I was washing and preparing 13 bottles a day and never handing the babies back!” Has having children changed the way you see your own mum Anne “I know I’m supposed to say that I admire my mum even more or understand what I must have put her through, but the truth is, it isn’t possible to think more of my mum than I already did. She’s amazing. I already knew she was super-human to have put up with my moody teenage years. My mum and I always had a great relationship and my biggest fear was that I wouldn’t be as good a mother as her. I think I’m doing OK, though – she was the best teacher I could ask for.”
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Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix.
An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.