Max George knows me entirely, the good and the bad – I love him, reveals Maisie Smith


MAISIE SMITH has told how her Celebrity SAS journey has brought her closer to boyfriend Max George, as she revealed for the first time: “I love him.”

The former EastEnders actress, who won over millions of fans on Strictly Come Dancing in 2020, has proved she has true grit by making it to the final stages of the Channel 4 show.

Maisie Smith reveals for the first time she is in love with Max George

The actress, who went on Celebrity SAS, said she finished the brutal journey feeling better about herself than she ever has before

Maisie, 21, first met Max when they starred in Strictly two years ago – pictured here with dance pro Gorka Marquez

And while the “brutal” experience left her battered, bruised and ravaged by sunburn, she said she finished it feeling better about herself than she ever has before.

It was so life-changing that it even gave her the confidence to open up to The Wanted singer Max, 34, about painful insecurities she has suffered in the past.

Maisie, 21, said this week: “To be honest, I’m still pinching myself that I managed to get through it. It’s been weird watching it back, because I forgot how brutal it was.

“It’s crazy. But I came out of the show feeling so strong and so confident. And being more confident now, I allowed myself to open up and speak to Max about the feelings I did have about myself and how I feel about myself now.

“So now he really knows me, which is really nice. He knows me entirely. There are no feelings that I’ve kept inside, which is a weight off my shoulders.

“It feels amazing to know that when someone loves you they know every bit about you — the good and the bad. That’s what love is really.”

So does Maisie feel like she loves him? She smiled and said: “Yeah, I do.”

She went on: “Max is very proud of me. When he saw the show he was like, ‘That’s absolutely brutal’. But he sees my strength, so he said, ‘I knew you could do it’.”

Maisie — who played EastEnders favourite Tiffany Butcher for 13 years until her departure last year — first met Max when they starred in Strictly two years ago.

After growing close on this year’s Strictly tour, in August they went public with their romance, going on holiday and sharing a series of loved-up photos on social media.

And Maisie said their relationship was transformed when she told Max about her past insecurities — which she has struggled with from childhood.

As she told how finally leaving those insecurities behind has made her happier than ever, it was hard to match the Maisie of now — polite, self-assured and infectious in her enthusiasm — to the shell of a girl she described when she looked back.

She played EastEnders favourite Tiffany Butcher for 13 years until her departure last year

She says ‘I allowed myself to open up and speak to Max about the feelings I did have about myself and how I feel about myself now’

Maisie adds ‘Since SAS, I haven’t turned anything down’

She said: “I was always very aware of the fact people looked up to me, that I had fans. I wanted to be someone to look up to but I lacked confidence because I put too much pressure on myself.

“I think a lot of time I kept things to myself. I had a tendency to suffer in silence, to keep things inside and not talk about them. I never wanted to be a burden.

“I was too scared to admit how I felt to people. I also had body insecurities. I spent a lot of time covering up my body, and I was going to the gym since I was 13 — but not for fitness.

“I didn’t like my appearance, which is quite sad, looking back. When I went to parties I would cover my entire body or I wouldn’t go because I felt too ugly.”

Maisie said her insecurities started soon after she joined EastEnders in 2008 aged just six. But when asked if she blamed the spotlight, she answered carefully: “I don’t know, because this is all I’ve known.

“I can’t pin my feelings on that, because I could have still had crippling confidence issues if I hadn’t had a job. Now I think that life is a learning curve, and maybe I had to feel like that then to feel like I feel today.”

Bruised black

In 2020 Maisie burst on to the Strictly dance floor in a riot of sequins and sass.

Paired with Gorka Marquez, she made it to the final, where she only narrowly missed out on the glitterball trophy to winners Bill Bailey and Oti Mabuse.

But behind the scenes, her confidence — painfully knocked by her critics — was lower than ever. She recalled: “I had a lot of self doubt. I spent a lot of time thinking I wasn’t good enough.

“Strictly was the first show I’d done as Maisie Smith and it was a shock that some people just didn’t like me. There were a lot of people saying I was cocky and over-confident, when in reality it was the opposite — I was coming in in hysterics, I was so nervous the whole time.

“The dancing was petrifying but I enjoyed that. What made me nervous was worrying that people hated me. Looking back, I should have been honest about the fact I was s**tting myself rather than put on a brave face.

“But over the years I have done that a lot, and it suddenly began to make me less and less confident. At times I struggled talking because of the fear of how I would come across. People would ask me questions and it was like I would just forget how to speak. I couldn’t find the words.

“When the show finished I felt unsure of who I was, what I had to give and what I was capable of.

I am capable

“But on set for SAS, the team could see that. They would build me up, telling me, ‘Look at what you’re doing on your own. No one is doing it for you. You’re doing it by yourself’. And every day I felt myself grow in confidence.”

During her stint on the punishing show, Maisie endured a tear gas encounter, a rope walk across a ravine and a jump backwards into freezing water.

In the final challenge tonight the recruits face a simulated capture by enemy forces, including ten hours of noise torture while in stress positions.

She said of the ordeal: “I vividly remember wanting to cry because it hurt so much, thinking, ‘Oh my God, this is going to break me’.

“But I also had something inside me saying, ‘Mais, you’ve let yourself down so many times by thinking you’re not good enough’. It was the little things, all those opportunities I had wanted but said no to because I thought I would be too nervous or too exposed, because I didn’t trust myself to be good enough.

“I really held myself back from things I wanted because of that fear. But since SAS, I haven’t turned anything down for those reasons. It’s reminded me what I am capable of. After the final day, when I went back to my hotel, I looked in the mirror and I just looked battered.

“I had half a head of hair, my eyes and legs were bruised black, I was so badly sunburnt. And I thought, ‘Wow, this is the roughest state I’ve ever seen myself in, but I’ve never felt better’. I felt so good about myself. There’s no feeling like it.

“It made me realise what’s important in life. It’s how you feel about yourself and helping others, like we all did on the show.

“It gave me a new outlook and I’m so grateful. I don’t really care any more if someone says something negative about me.

“I know myself now, and I’m a good person. If people don’t see that, they should get to know me and they might see it.

“But I have all the people I need in my life, who I love and respect and who love and respect me. So I don’t care. And I’m happier than I’ve ever been.

“It’s crazy how I put myself in a different world and came out a completely different person. It helped me find myself, in a way.”

  • Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins airs tonight at 9pm on Channel 4.