EastEnders' Toby-Alexander Smith responds to calls for axing Gray Atkins

·2-min read

EastEnders star Toby-Alexander Smith has responded to calls for his character Gray Atkins to be axed from the soap.

In one of the show's most disturbing and talked-about moments last year, sinister lawyer Gray killed wife Chantelle (Jessica Plummer) as part of a long-running domestic abuse storyline.

While Gray is still on Albert Square many months later, some viewers have expressed unease at still seeing the character around.

Photo credit: BBC
Photo credit: BBC

Related: EastEnders' Gray Atkins turns against Whitney Dean after hit-and-run

Speaking on Nihal Arthanayake's BBC Radio 5 Live show, Smith responded: "I think initially it took a while to get used to that, that it's not a personal thing about me.

"Obviously social media can be very loud. When people started directing it at Gray, that was when I was like, 'ok, we're doing our jobs here, people are calling out this behaviour, this behaviour is unacceptable'.

"And that's why we do it, for people to be able to recognise that there are people like Gray out there," the actor continued. "It may be a father, it may be an ex-boyfriend, it may be a brother, it may be a friend. It just gave people that platform to recognise those behaviours."

Photo credit: Kieron McCarron/Jack Barnes - BBC
Photo credit: Kieron McCarron/Jack Barnes - BBC

Related: EastEnders' Kat Slater to make a big decision over Phil Mitchell romance

Speaking last year about the fan reaction to the storyline, Smith said that playing the character was worth it if it helps people get out of abusive relationships.

"They usually say, 'Are you Gray from EastEnders?' I'll say yes, and then I'll get a bit of a look," he revealed. "It gets difficult when it becomes personal because people sometimes can't differentiate between the character and me as an actor, but that's fine.

"If one person gets out of an abusive relationship, then it's worth it. I'll take it all day long."

EastEnders continues tonight (May 20) at 7.35pm on BBC One.

Readers who are affected by the issues raised in this story are encouraged to contact Refuge (www.refuge.org.uk) or Women's Aid (www.womensaid.org.uk). Both charities run the 24-hour, freephone National Domestic Violence Helpline, 0808 2000 247. The US National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

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