After months of longing looks, Whitney Dean (Shona McGarty) finally makes a move on lawyer Gray Atkins (Toby-Alexander Smith) and kisses him. As they prepare for her murder trial, what happens once Whit crosses the line with her buff brief on EastEnders?
“Gray is totally caught off guard by the kiss,” reveals Smith. “It definitely wasn’t part of the plan! It will certainly add a new element to the case that he wasn’t prepared for.”
Married Mr Atkins has been Whitney’s saviour since she killed stalker Leo King in self-defence back in February, and the accused has grown so attached to the handsome legal eagle her feelings have become confused and she’s fallen hard for him.
Running through some intense work ahead of her upcoming court case, emotions run high when Whitney uses painful flashbacks to piece together the events of the night Leo died – then leans in for the smooch she’s been dreaming of, as shown in these first-look images released by EastEnders from Tuesday 9th June.
“At this stage, Gray doesn’t have any feelings towards Whitney whatsoever,” insists Smith. “His main agenda is to try and keep her calm and encourage her to stay positive and not panic.
“I do think he’s bene helping her from a predominantly good place, but I don’t think he’s expecting any sort of emotional connection to happen with Whitney. It’s strictly professional.”
Gray is, of course, unhappily married to Chantelle who he secretly subjects to beatings and psychological manipulation.
“Gray has completed diminished any thought that he is abusive to Chantelle,” explains Smith, of his alter ego’s concealed evil side. “She may point the finger but everyone else can see he’s a great guy, why can’t she? He’ll go to any lengths to keep Chantelle in check and is usually able to justify it in his own head.
“He is worried about her working with Kheerat Panesar at the call centre and is paranoid about them getting too close.
“It’s more important than ever that we tackle this subject on the show,” he continues. “During lockdown there has been such a staggering increase in domestic abuse. Hopefully we can raise awareness of the issue and anyone in a similar situation will be encouraged to speak out.”