EastEnders’ actress Jessica Plummer has suggested her character Chantelle Atkins is about to fight back against her abusive husband, out-of-work solicitor Gray Atkins.
The depiction of that abusive relationship has been applauded by domestic abuse groups like Women’s Aid for the way it has raised awareness of what’s happening in many British homes.
Plummer told host Stacey Dooley on EastEnders: Secrets of the Square that the COVID-19 lockdown had brought everything to the surface for the young couple, especially as Gray had been furloughed, which was certain to ignite his anger issues.
Plummer said that Chantelle would discover her “inner Taylor” in upcoming episodes, referring to her rough and tumble family’s way with sorting out disputes.
“I think Chantelle’s had her lightbulb moment,” said Jessica. “I think the penny’s dropped [that Grey won’t change].”
Toby-Alexander Smith, who plays Gray, explained that the furlough would be a “trigger for Gray to get frustrated with Chantelle, therefore I imagine he’s probably pretty much at boiling point”.
Dooley suggested the storyline had echoes of the classic EastEnders storyline from 2002 when Little Mo (Kacey Ainsworth) finally stood up to her abusive husband Trevor (Alex Ferns) and walloped him with an iron.
Smith said: “That storyline was so iconic and I remember one of the first articles and there was a reference to our storyline and Trevor and Little Mo and that’s where it really hit home, the responsibility we had that people were making that comparison. ”
He commented on Women’s Aid’s statement that storylines like their’s raise awareness and can save lives, saying it was “a huge reward” for himself and Plummer.
EastEnders returns on Monday, 7th September and will initially screen for 20-minute episodes on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. The shorter episodes were due to the slower pace of production as EastEnders implemented the COVID-19 safety protocols.
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