‘EastEnders’ star Toby-Alexander Smith on life as a new dad: ‘The sleep deprivation catches up with you!’

EastEnders Gray Atkins
Proud dad: Toby-Alexander, who plays Gray in 'EastEnders', has a newborn daughter, Bonnie. (Image credit: BBC)

Toby-Alexander Smith, who plays EastEnders serial killer Gray Atkins, has spoken about life as a new dad and admitted that, like most new parents, he’s struggling with the lack of sleep.

Back in December, the 31-year-old star and his actress partner Amy Walsh - better known to soap fans as Emmerdale’s Tracy Metcalfe - welcomed their first baby; a little girl they named Bonnie Mae.

Speaking about life since Bonnie’s arrival, Toby tells us, “My brain is so foggy and I keep rocking from side to side. 

“It’s the best thing in the world and I wouldn’t change it for anything… but the sleep deprivation! It’s not been awful, but the broken sleep does catch up with you because you’re not getting quality sleep; just having power naps.”

But recognising that babies grow up fast, he adds, “We are both trying to stay as present as possible and be in the moment and enjoy it because Bonnie is already changing so quickly. 

“We just want to cherish it because, before long, she’ll be too big for us to hold and those days will be gone.”

Emmerdale Tracy

Other half: Toby's partner is Amy Walsh, who soap fans will know for playing Tracy Metcalfe in 'Emmerdale'. (Image credit: ITV)

Toby met Amy in 2019 when the pair sat next to each other in the studio audience of Strictly Come Dancing. Amy was supporting ex Emmerdale actor Kelvin Fletcher, while he had gone along to cheer on EastEnders cast member Emma Barton.

His happy life off-screen comes in stark contrast to his life on-screen as twisted Gray. Shortly after Gray arrived in Walford nearly three years ago, he was revealed to be a violent, controlling bully who was physically and mentally abusing wife Chantelle (Jessica Plummer). 

The solicitor went on to murder Chantelle in 2020 and later went on to also claim the lives of Tina Carter and love rival Kush Kazemi.

“It’s quite a juxtaposition!” continues Toby.

“But the wonderful thing is that whilst I’m filming all these heavy scenes, all I have to do is look at little Bonnie looking back at me and it’s just the best feeling in the world. 

“It puts everything into perspective, it really does. It’s such a wonderful time in my life and it makes it so much easier to compartmentalise.

“Life has changed quite a lot! If it wasn’t for EastEnders, I wouldn’t have met Amy.”

EastEnders Gray Atkins

Nowhere to hide: Gray's killer crimes catch up with him in 'EastEnders' next week. (Image credit: BBC)

Next week is a huge week for Toby, as Gray’s killer crimes are finally exposed and he resorts to desperate measures to try to evade justice. 

A trailer released by the soap shows Gray’s new wife, Chelsea, telling her husband “I know what you did” before discovering he has snatched their premature son Jordan from the hospital.

Meanwhile, Tina’s grieving sister Shirley screams outside Gray’s house that he is a “dead man walking” while Chantelle’s mum, Karen - who has always supported her former son-in-law - is seen hitting Gray with what looks like a baseball bat.

Chantelle Atkins in EastEnders

First victim: Gray murdered first wife Chantelle (Jessica Plummer) after abusing her for years. (Image credit: BBC/Kieron McCarron/Jack Barnes)

Says Toby, “Gray is a master manipulator and likes to move his own chess pieces around the board, but the walls are very much closing in on him and he’s losing control and becoming a bit of a caged animal. 

“He’s running out of options and he’s got to think very quickly on his feet.

“He won’t let anything get in the way of him trying to regain some sort of control and power, but there’s too much pressure mounting around him from various other characters.”

Asked if Gray could kill again, he replies, “I believe he would. To put his own safety and freedom first, he’d do whatever it takes.”

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. You can also catch up on episodes on BBC iPlayer now. 

Alison Slade
Soaps Editor
Alison Slade has over 20 years of experience as a TV journalist and has spent the vast majority of that time as Soap Editor of TV Times magazine.  She is passionate about the ability of soaps to change the world by presenting important, issue-based stories about real people in a relatable way. There are few soap actors that she hasn’t interviewed over the years, and her expertise in the genre means she has been called upon as a judge numerous times for The British Soap Awards and the BAFTA TV Awards.

When she is not writing about soaps, watching soaps, or interviewing people who are in soaps, she loves going to the theatre, taking a long walk or pottering about at home, obsessing over Farrow and Ball paint.