|Character Profile||List of appearances|
Max Cunningham was the son of Gordon and Angela Cunningham, the brother of Dawn, Cindy and Jude Cunningham, the ex-husband of Clare Devine and the husband of Steph Dean. He was also the legal guardian of his half-brother, Tom Cunningham, from the death of Gordon and Helen Cunningham in 2004, until Max's death in 2008.
Max and his siblings failed to get along with their mother's boyfriend, Terry Williams, to the point where both Dawn and Jude wanted to leave home, but stayed for Max and Cindy's sakes. Despite Terry not getting on with her kids, he and Angela got engaged and later married. However, Terry left Angela with his £55,000 debt. The kids supported Angela when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, which was later removed.
Max later discovered that he was his uncle as his sister, Dawn, had a daughter whom he gave up for adoption. However, everyone was left shocked when Jack Osborne got drunk and revealed that he was the father.
Max later met Sam "O.B." O'Brien, and the pair developed a disliking for each other. However, they later formed a friendship, and later became close friends. The family were left devastated when Dawn was diagnosed with leukemia. She later died on Christmas Day after accepting a marriage proposal from Jambo Bolton. There was a further shock when Cindy collapsed during Dawn's funeral, and the doctors discovered that it was caused by an infection developed after giving birth to a daughter. Their father, Gordon, managed to track down the baby and made Cindy take care of her.
Jude later got involved with the criminal activities of Gordon's cousin, Roger. A scam went wrong and Jude, pretending to be Dawn, went on the run, leaving the family devastated.
Abuse of Holly
Cindy later met and began a relationship with Sean Tate. Sean led Cindy to believe that he was fine with her being a teenage mother. However, whilst looking after Holly alone, Sean ignored her. Holly made a mess in the kitchen by taking things out of the cupboards. Sean shouted at Holly and locked her in a cupboard, which Max witnessed. Max tried to tell Cindy, but Cindy didn't believe him as Sean managed to convince her that it was a misunderstanding.
Sean later began getting violent towards Holly, and Cindy discovered bruising on her. Cindy accused Max, but Max accused Sean and told Gordon about witnessing Sean locking Holly in a cupboard. Cindy left home with Holly to move into Sean's caravan, so Max and Gordon tried to tell Cindy the truth and convince her to return home, to no avail.
On bonfire night, Holly was hospitalised after Sean burnt her with a firework. Social services got involved and convinced Cindy to move out of Sean's. Gordon and Max took Cindy back home, but ended up going back to Sean. Sean later left for Tenerife, leaving Cindy and Holly at the airport as Cindy had forgotten Holly's passport.
Birth of Tom
After the imprisonment of her husband, Helen Richardson met and had a one-night-stand with Gordon. The pair embarked on a fling, but Helen later discovered that she was pregnant. Gordon proposed marriage to her upon discovering, but she rejected. Eventually, Helen's children convinced her to accept so Gordon re-proposed. Max attended the wedding and got along with his new step-siblings, Mandy and Lewis. Helen gave birth to a son on Millenium Eve, whom she named Tom.
Love Triangle with Chloe Bruce
O.B. set Max up on a date with Chloe Bruce. Max was initially uninterested in Chloe as he had judged her by the way that she looked, but O.B. made him give Chloe a chance. Max ended up falling for Chloe as she listened to his venting, and stood up for him when Mandy made unkind remarks. Max invited Chloe back to his house, where they started kissing. They both bonded over their lack of experience in relationships, and decided to lose their virginity to each other. However, part way through, Max changed his mind so Chloe got dressed.
Despite changing his mind part way through sex, Max still wanted to be with Chloe. O.B. also developed feelings with Chloe, and Chloe was left to make a choice - Max or O.B. Chloe was unable to make up her mind, so Max and O.B. decided that they both would date Chloe - even drawing up a rota. Max and O.B. struggled with sharing a girlfriend, as did Chloe, who decided that she didn't want to be romantically involved with either of them. However, the trio became close friends and Chloe joined Max and O.B. in their money-making schemes.
At the grand opening of Helen's new business, Washed Up, Max decided to take the steam roller for a joyride. However, Max struggled to control the steam roller, and narrowly missed striking Mandy before crashing the steam roller.
Max and O.B. tried out a few money-making schemes. First, they composed a track to be played in The Loft, titled Get Down With That Thing. After recording Gordon shouting "get down with that thing" at Max, he and O.B. borrowed a sampler and turned the recording into a dance track. However, the song was unsuccessful and proved to be a flop. The pair next decided to go into business together, and opened a burger van, which proved to be their more successful money-making scheme.
Relationship with Anna Green
Max agreed to go on a date with Jodie Nash, but the date was not a success. Max then met Anna Green and the pair began a relationship, despite Anna being pregnant with the child of her ex-boyfriend, Alex Bell. Max agreed to remain with her after giving birth, as she did at Christmas 2001, giving birth to a son, whom she named Charlie Green. Alex, Anna and Max all raised Charlie, although Max and Alex had the odd squabble.
Cindy later returned to the village, but stole a large sum of money from Max and O.B. before returning to Spain. Anna comforted Max. The pair went on a night out, with Anna leaving Charlie to be babysat by Alex. When Anna went to collect Charlie, she found no sign of him or Alex, and realised that Charlie had fled to the airport. Anna managed to stop Alex from boarding a plane to Hong Kong with Charlie, and Alex left alone.
Max went on a potholing trip with O.B., Ben Davies, Jamie Nash, Theo Sankofa and Kristian Hargreaves to the Yorkshire Dales. Whilst in the caves, it began to rain and the caves started to fill with water, however the sextet all managed to escape unscathed. The rain stopped and the sextet decided to leave. However, whilst driving the van, and landslide occurred which flipped the van. Ben tried to save Jamie, but he was killed in the landslide, whilst O.B. lost grip of Theo when the van tipped. Theo fell out of the van and down the cliff to his death.
When Max returned home, Anna told him of her excitement over a future, but Max revealed that he was finding being with her and looking after Charlie too much for him to handle, and broke up with her. Anna then decided to leave the village.
Feud with Tony
O.B. discovered that Helen had cheated on Gordon with Tony Hutchinson. Gordon was left heartbroken, especially when Helen chose Tony over him, but took her back. Max, however, used his fists and violently attacked Tony. Although everyone else forgave Tony, Max began a feud with him. Max developed feelings for Mandy, but she rejected him and ended up getting with Tony. When Bombhead and Lee Hunter accidentally set fire to Max's burger van, Max rented a building, formerly juice bar The Octagon, from Tony. Regardless, the feud continued, which involved Max trashing Gnosh Village and stealing Tony's new convertible car, which he destroyed part of. Mandy convinced him not to call the police, but Max eventually saw that the feud needed to stop, and Max and Tony became friends.
Ben's Stag Do
Max received an invite to Jude's wedding to Damien Windsor in 2003, and attended with Gordon. He also attended Ben's stag do, along with O.B. and Gordon. The trio ended up getting lost and were ambushed when they stumbled into a paint-balling session. Max and O.B. started arguing over who was to blame for getting lost, and Gordon exploded at the pair when he fell into a trap that Max had set for O.B.
Gordon & Helen's Deaths/Custody of Tom
The Cunninghams were shocked when Gordon collapsed suddenly, and it was revealed that he had suffered a heart attack. However, he made a full recovery and was discharged. A few weeks later, Gordon and Helen were involved in a car accident when the pair were distracted and pulled out in front of a truck at an intersection. The trio were hospitalised, but Tom had very minor injuries. Gordon later suffered a second heart attack, which proved to be fatal, and devastated the family. Helen was later discharged from the hospital, but fell asleep whilst talking with Mandy and never awoke.
Cindy returned for the funeral and stayed for the will reading, but it was obvious that it was to see what she could get. Gordon left Drive 'n' Buy and the house to Max and Cindy, and made Mandy the legal guardian of Tom. Cindy was uninterested in the business and house and tried to convince Max to sell them. Max exploded at Cindy when he discovered that she had put the house on the market despite Max still residing there. He took the house off the market and Cindy returned to Spain.
Mandy struggled to cope with looking after Tom, whilst Max enjoyed spending time with him. Mandy wanted to send Tom to boarding school as soon as he turned five years old, but Max didn't want Tom to go to boarding school, so he decided that he would become Tom's legal guardian instead.
Max's niece, Beth, later returned to see her biological family before moving to Australia. Max was, at first, suspicious of Beth, but soon came round. Beth was upset to learn that Dawn had died six years earlier, but was grateful when Max gifted her Dawn's pendant. Max also later met Beth's adoptive brother, Noah, after he followed her when she was seeing Max. Beth left for Australia a month later.
Dating Mel & Sophie
Max and O.B. went on a double-date; Max dated Mel Burton, whilst O.B. dated Mel's twin sister, Sophie. The date went disastrously as the pair kept getting the twins mixed up after getting drunk. Max discovered that he had chemistry with Sophie and the pair dated, which confused Tom. Tom was confused as to why Sophie looked identical to Mel, and was insistent on calling her "the new Mel".
Mel and Sophie overheard Max and O.B. insinuating that they were escorts, so the twins exacted revenge. They helped Max & O.B. set up their Comic Relief fundraiser, only to lock then in stocks and offer people the chance to throw sponges soaked in red paint at them.
House Explosion/Tom's Disappearance
Whilst playing a game of hide and seek, Tom found fireworks in O.B.'s bedroom and set them alight. One flew out of the window and struck the neighbours house, and one flew out into the hallway, knocking O.B. down the stairs and starting a fire. Tom hid in O.B.'s closet whilst Ben tried to save Tom. With the exit blocked by flames, Ben jumped from the window, just in the nick of time as the room was engulfed by fire. Tom was left with smoke inhalation and Ben with minor burns and a broken leg, but the pair both made a full recovery.
The house was gutted in the fire, but the insurance refused to pay out because of O.B.'s fireworks. Tony allowed Max and Tom to move in with him. Tom felt guilty over the fire and thought Max blamed him. Max tried to re-assure Tom, but Tom was unconvinced. Unbeknownst to Max, Tom overhears Max telling Mandy that Tom might be better off in care, and Tom ran away from home. Max and Mandy were horrified to find him missing and contacted the police. However, Mandy later found Tom at Gordon and Helen's graves.
Managing The Loft
Mandy and Tony purchased The Loft, and let Max, O.B. and Tony's brother, Dominic Reilly, come up with an opening night idea. Tony preferred Max and O.B.'s idea and hired them to manage the business. Max and O.B. hired Clare Devine to work for them, and were both left smitten by her. They both fought for her affections, and Clare ended up choosing Max.
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|“||I love you, mate.||”|
— Final line, to O.B.