Chantelle's domestic abuse storyline is about to take a tragic turn...
EastEnders star Jessica Plummer has spoken out following the tragic news that Chantelle Atkins is set to die at the hands of her abusive husband.
The news of Chantelle's demise was revealed to fans this week, preparing them for what promise to be some of the toughest scenes EastEnders has ever aired.
Sadly, Chantelle's bid to escape her toxic marriage leave Gray so angry that he ends up killing her next week, just as it looks like she might break free of his clutches.
Jessica speaks out
Actress Jessica Plummer, who has played Chantelle since March last year, has spoken about her character's bid to leave abusive Gray...
“She is literally running away with just the clothes on her back, but Gray is clever, he's smart and he's not going to let her just walk out of the door. I think it's easier for her to just run."
But sadly for Chantelle her bid for freedom is ruined when she goes on a family holiday and Gray makes the kids stay at home with him.
Gray has worked out something doesn't add up and he tries to stay one step ahead of her.
Once on holiday Chantelle's dad, Mitch, works out something isn't right and tries to get his daughter to open up.
“Chantelle’s so close to telling her dad the truth, but at the same time she knows he would probably kill Gray, so she’s protecting Mitch at the same time,” continues Jessica.
“She’s quite resentful that her mum sees her life as perfect and hasn’t noticed something is wrong. Even though she isn’t as close to her dad, he picked up on it straight away.”
Chantelle lies that she misses Mia and Mack, so Mitch offers to go home and get them. But there is a sickening shock waiting for Chantelle when he returns.
Gray tightens his grip
Her relief that Mitch has brought the kids to her is soon replaced with utter horror when she sees Gray is with them.
To Chantelle’s devastation, Gray insists she and the kids come home with him, and she has no choice but to go.
Back in Walford, Chantelle knows her escape plan is in tatters and eventually tells Gray she’s leaving him.
But, of course, the news doesn’t go down well and Chantelle has no idea has has just signed her own death warrant.
Doing the story justice
"It’s important to show that this is still domestic abuse even though it doesn’t look like the typical cowering in a corner, locked in a room versions," says Jessica.
"To the outside world Gray is charismatic, he's charming, he's successful - he's perhaps not the typical person that is portrayed in domestic abuse storylines.
"We worked with Woman’s Aid and Refuge and I've stayed in touch with one of the ladies who came to the first meeting who was a survivor of domestic abuse.
"It’s been such a privilege to play Chantelle and to be able to tell her story. Sadly what she goes through is all too common and her death is a reminder of the devastating effect of domestic abuse.
"I’ve known it wasn’t going to end well for Chantelle for a while now and although it was a shock to find out her fate, far too many men and women suffer in silence so I hope that by raising awareness we can ultimately save lives.
"I am so grateful to all the team and my lovely cast members for being so supportive, I’ll miss Albert Square!"
EastEnders airs Mondays at 8.05pm, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7.35pm and Fridays at 8.30pm on BBC One - see our TV Guide for full listings.
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