EASTENDERS star Maisie Smith has been branded the “other woman” by the dumped ex-girlfriend of Albert Square’s Zack Morris.
Make-up artist Brooke Maskell told a pal: “There were three of us in that relationship.”
Zack, 22, and Brooke, 21, from Sawbridgeworth, Herts, were together for a year and a half before they split in December 2019.
Just two months later Zack was linked to Strictly finalist Maisie, but at the time they insisted they were just mates — despite Brooke’s suspicions they had already hooked up.
Now Maisie, 20, and Zack, who play married couple Tiffany Butcher and Keegan Baker on the soap, appear to have confirmed their off-screen relationship with a loved-up night out at Essex restaurant Caddies — as revealed on Monday by The Sun.
Speaking to The Sun on Sunday, Brooke’s pal said: “Brooke always felt Maisie was the other woman in their relationship as she was a big flirt. She often says now, ‘There were three of us in that relationship’.
“She’s not at all surprised to see they’re together now.
“Maisie never spoke to Brooke, even though she was always in the background.
“It was strange, especially when everyone was talking about their on-screen romance as this hot young couple.
Zack and Brooke enjoyed a whirlwind romance after they began dating in summer 2018 — and soon afterwards EastEnders bosses hatched the actor’s big storyline with Maisie.
The pal revealed: “Brooke wanted to keep their relationship secret and they managed to keep it quiet for six months.
“But during that time Zack was told by show bosses that he would be at the centre of a teenage romance storyline which would involve him and Maisie running away and marrying.
“Brooke was one of the first people he told. He said, ‘I’m just warning you and wanted to let you know what they are planning’.
“Brooke was like, ‘Oh, brilliant’. She knew it wasn’t going to be nice watching her man snog another woman on TV but she understood it was his job, and he was always so considerate about her feelings.
"One thing that Brooke found strange about the situation was that she only met Maisie once despite the fact that she was regularly snogging her man on screen.
“And when she saw her at events after their initial meeting, Maisie would ignore her.”
‘MAISIE IGNORED HER AT EVENTS’
The friend added: “When a lot of actors get together in a show like EastEnders they often make sure their other halves get to know their on-screen wife or girlfriend.
“They’d make an effort to get on really well to avoid any awkwardness. But that didn’t happen with Maisie, and Brooke and Zack never spoke about her. It was weird.
“Maisie was always there in the background. And of course when everyone was talking about Maisie and Zack’s on-screen relationship it wasn’t nice for Brooke.”
The only time Brooke spoke to Maisie was when she and Zack went to see Danny Dyer appear in Nativity! The Musical at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith, West London, in December 2018.
The pal explained: “Zack had already started working closely with Maisie and it wasn’t the friendly meeting Brooke was expecting.
Brooke always felt Maisie was the other woman in their relationship as she was a big flirt.
“Brooke would joke that Zack spent more time with Maisie than he did with her. They were together every day at work.
“She knew they had a strong friendship but she had no idea what their relationship was like because they didn’t talk about her.”
Zack and Brooke spent their last Christmas together in 2019 before realising the relationship had run its course.
The friend said: “Brooke has joked that Maisie had finally got her man. Zack was always so lovely to her and all she wants is for him to be happy.”
Last year Maisie said: “I film most of my scenes with Zack. Naturally we have built a great friendship.”
Last night Zack insisted: “Maisie and I have only ever been just good mates, nothing more.”
Shona: I feared we’d be jobless
EASTENDER Shona McGarty was terrified the BBC soap would be pulled off air at the height of the pandemic – leaving the cast unemployed.
Production was halted in April 2020 as Covid restrictions made filming impossible.
And the actress, who has played Albert Square favourite Whitney Dean since 2018, admitted she was left fearing for her future in Walford.
Shona, 29, told The Sun on Sunday: “It was a strange time, everyone felt very unsure. People were losing jobs around the country and I think we all had those fears.
“I certainly thought to myself, ‘If we don’t ever go back, what would I do?’
“Music did pop up because I really love singing and I could write songs from home.
“It was a real possibility that the show wouldn’t come back, so I’m so grateful the bosses came up with all the trickery that allowed us to film again safely.
“I never went down the route of thinking about driving for Amazon or working in Sainsbury’s, but I absolutely would have done if I’d needed to.
“I think the whole cast now feel so grateful that after spending so long in lockdown we actually have jobs to go back to.
“We are very lucky we could carry on.”
EastEnders is up for Best Serial Drama at next week’s National Television Awards at the O2 in London, while Danny Dyer – Queen Vic landlord Mick Carter – is also in the running for Best Serial Drama Performance.
And actress Rose Ayling-Ellis, who joined the cast as Frankie Lewis last year, is nominated for the Best Newcomer gong.
Shona added: “I’m so excited for everyone in the cast, especially Danny and Rose.
“It would be so special if we won any awards this year because of all the challenges we have gone through as a team.
“Everyone has really pulled together.
“I feel very proud of the way EastEnders has been able to continue.
“And after a year without events, I can’t wait to dress up for the red carpet.
“Though it would be brilliant if we had a lockdown theme and all wore tracksuits!”
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