EastEnders spoilers follow.
EastEnders has released full details of Chantelle Atkins' final week, before she is killed by her abusive husband Gray.
It was announced over the weekend that Chantelle (Jessica Plummer) will lose her life at the hands of Gray in upcoming scenes, as the show's ongoing domestic abuse story reaches a devastating conclusion.
Last night's episode saw Chantelle put the wheels in motion to divorce Gray, having suffered a horrific few months in lockdown with him.
By the time next week arrives, Chantelle is putting her escape plan into action and is packing for an ostensible 'family holiday'.
With a suspicious Gray interrogating her over the plans, Chantelle lies that it's a last-minute trip and convinces him to let her go.
Believing she's temporarily got Gray off her back, Chantelle visits Kheerat and tells him about her plans to never return.
Unaware that Gray's suspicions have been heightened, Chantelle is satisfied that her plan is coming together as she puts the final arrangements in place.
Unfortunately, everything begins to fall apart when Chantelle arrives home to find that Gray has convinced her parents that the children should stay at home with him.
Forced to proceed with the holiday without the kids, a desperate Chantelle retreats to a local café once they've reached their seaside destination.
Realising something is wrong, Mitch follows but Chantelle doesn't open up and just tells her dad that she misses Mia and Mack.
Desperate to fix things for her, Mitch heads back to Walford to get them, leaving Chantelle hopeful her plan could be back on.
However, as Chantelle prepares for the children's arrival, she is unaware that Mitch has returned – with Gray in tow.
After contacting Kheerat, Chantele is horrified when she returns to the B&B to find Gray at their accomodation.
When Gray insists that they go back to Walford, Chantelle has no choice but to agree given that the kids are already in the car. As they leave, Mitch detects a flicker of fear on Chantelle's face.
Friday's episode will then see Gray arrive back in Walford with Chantelle, where the horror she has lived silently with for many years is about to get worse.
Show bosses have already confirmed that Chantelle will die at the end of next week's harrowing scenes, with executive producer Jon Sen saying: "Jessica's performance is nothing short of extraordinary and even in her final scenes, the audience will be moved by Chantelle's strength. We're very sorry so see Jessica go but hope that her impact on viewers is long-lasting."
Speaking about the story's devastating ending, Toby Alexander-Smith – who plays Gray – said: "It's certainly going to be a shock for the audience and I think that it is important that it concludes in such a tragic way."
He added: "We're encouraging women to speak out before that does happen because sadly it is happening – and it's happening more and more frequently. The importance of this storyline is to give the women courage to speak out and to know that people are listening and to know that there are services out there to help.
"As shocking as it is to watch, hopefully it will give the survivors out there the courage to reach out and get help."
Recent Women's Aid research reports that two-thirds of survivors stated their domestic abuse had escalated during lockdown, and three quarters of women living with an abuser said they felt they could not leave or get away.
Refuge reported a 54% rise in women contacting its helpline in need of emergency accommodation in the first week of July, when compared with the last week in June.
Toby said: "When I was speaking to Women's Aid, they were telling me how many women are contacting their Live Chat service to say their partners are using the pandemic as a tool to their advantage. I was shocked.
"It was awful before, no doubt about it, but no one could have predicted how devastating Covid-19 would be to those in abusive relationships. To even comprehend that something as devastating as this virus and people have actually used it to cause more harm is just awful.
"That's one of the things that I really discussed long and hard with Women's Aid. Since lockdown, there has been a staggering increase in deaths, a staggering increase in people reaching out, so for Gray I think lockdown just catapulted his behaviour and his psyche into becoming as bad as it could possibly be."
EastEnders airs these scenes in the week commencing Monday, September 14 at 8pm on BBC One.
We would encourage any readers who are affected by the issues raised in this story to contact Refuge (www.refuge.org.uk) or Women's Aid (www.womensaid.org.uk). The 24-hour, freephone National Domestic Abuse Helpline is 0808 2000 247. The US National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), or text LOVEIS to 22522.
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