Jake Wood can’t wait to get back into sequins for the Strictly Christmas show, but at the same time he is limbering up with his sparring partner for a new stage show.

In January last year Jake, who is better known as Max Branning from EastEnders, and his best pal, European Super Bantamweight Champion boxer Spencer Oliver, began their own podcast looking at the human stories behind the noble art of pugilism.

The duo have created 47 shows and notched up a million downloads for their winning formula, which pulls in not only true blue boxing fans but people who just enjoy a good tale.

Now Jake and Spencer are transferring the podcast to stage in a show called Pound For Pound, which will be touring the UK and stopping off in Swindon.

“It will be like being in our front room with us,’’ said Jake. “We will be bringing special guests and great characters together to tell their stories.

“We will chat about Spencer’s story, how he had to give up his boxing career after falling into a coma, following one of his fights. We will chat about my story on EastEnders. We will have a Q and A and do meet and greets.’’

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Jake says that he has always been a huge boxing fan. He boxed as a child and grew up watching boxing on TV and now attends as many live fights as he can.

He met Spencer eight years ago at various boxing matches and they became friends.

“He was working for Sky TV and a fan of East Enders and I was a huge fan of him and his boxing,’’ said Jake.

The actor decided to experience the reality, excitement and adrenalin of competing in the ring himself so he enlisted Spencer’s help to train for a real match.

“It was an amazing experience. It was a white collar fight within the gym, and it gave me an incredible insight into what the boxers go through. I was fighting another amateur member of the gym and it ended in a draw,’’ said Jake.

“You do experience pressure and adrenalin before stepping on stage or screen, but no-one is about to punch you in the face,’’ said Jake.

The friends used both their contacts in the boxing and entertainment worlds to persuade famous names to guest on their podcasts.

“We had people like Tyson Fury, Barry McGuigan, Gary Lineker and Ray Winstone,’’ said Jake.

“We also had the journey-men, the lifeblood of the sport, such as a cuts man who talked about dealing with the injuries on the canvas, and a doctor, who of course has the best seat in the house.

“We cover all aspects and one of the most interesting was the rapper Bugsy Malone, who had come from a rough background.

“He said he would have gone off the rails if he had not walked into a boxing gym, It is inspirational stuff so we are off on a live tour with it. Podcast is an exciting medium, it is the future.’’

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It was back in 2014 that Jake took up his dancing shoes to appear on BBC TV’s Strictly Come Dancing and he made it to the semi final with his pro dance parter Janette Manrara.

“It’s been four years since the programme and I toured with Strictly after that, so it is about time I got back into the sequins.

“It is a huge honour to be asked to do the Christmas show, it is such a joyous festive show,’’ said Jake.

The actor’s alta ego Max Branning could do with a bit of festive cheer as he had a tough year on EastEnders: last Christmas he nearly jumped off the Queen Vic roof, he lost his daughters. He made his first appearance on the famous soap on June 27 2006. The grittiness of the soap allows the actor full rein and scooped Jake gongs at both The British Soap Awards and Inside Soap Awards.

Jake’s first role on TV was the series The Gentle Touch in 1984, followed by two episodes of London’s Burning, and a small part in the classic Only Fools and Horses.

He will be taking a short break from EastEnders while he is touring with Pound for Pound

Tickets are on sale now for Pound For Pound at Swindon’s Wyvern Theatre on February 21 2019. For more details call 01793 524481 or visit www.swindontheatres.co.uk - Flicky Harrison