EastEnders has confirmed that Chantelle Atkins will be murdered by her husband Gray as their harrowing domestic abuse storyline comes to an end.
Here’s everything you need to know about Chantelle’s tragic death…
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How does Chantelle die in EastEnders?
Chantelle will meet a tragic end as her plan to escape from Gray goes disastrously wrong.
Official spoilers have revealed that Chantelle will pack her suitcase under the pretence that she’s going on a family holiday.
Gray is baffled when learns about the holiday, but Chantelle manages to convince him it was a last minute decision.
Later, Chantelle visits Kheerat and tells him about her plans to escape to a women's refuge and never return.
Meanwhile, a string of events make Gray suspicious of Chantelle and what she's up to.
In an attempt to gain back control, Gray manages to convince Chantelle's parents that the kids should stay at home with him rather than jetting off on holiday.
Chantelle is gutted and spends the holiday moping around.
When Chantelle tells Mitch she's missing Mia and Mack, he does his best to fix things and heads back to Walford to fetch them.
Chantelle is overjoyed that her escape plan might work out after all but horrified when she realises that Gray has accompanied Mitch on his return.
To make matters worse Gray doesn’t wait long to insist that he, Chantelle and the kids go back to Walford.
When Chantelle and Gray arrive back in Walford, a defeated Chantelle eventually blurts out that she’s leaving him.
EastEnders are yet to confirm details of what happens next, and viewers will have to watch to find out.
Speaking about why Chantelle decides to escape to a women’s refuge rather than confiding in her family, actress Jessica Plummer said: "Chantelle’s parents have a relationship with her husband, so for her to tell her parents is to potentially not escape. Gray is clever, he’s smart and he’s not going to let her just walk out of the door. I think it’s easier for her to just run."
Talking about the tragic end to the harrowing storyline, 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.
"So we’re encouraging women to speak out before that does happen because sadly it is happening. And it’s happening more and more frequently."
He added: "And 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."
When does Chantelle Atkins die in EastEnders?
EastEnders are yet to confirm exactly when the tragedy will unfold, but the hard-hitting scenes will air later this month.
The soap will sow the seeds of the murder storyline next week when Chantelle’s escape plan goes disastrously wrong and she's forced to tell him she's leaving him.
But it’s not yet clear whether he commits the awful murder then, or whether he bides his time first, and viewers will have to tune in to find out.
EastEnders has worked closely with Women's Aid and Refuge on the storyline to give an accurate portrayal of domestic abuse.
Refuge, which runs the 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline, has seen contact skyrocket in lockdown, while Women's Aid said more than two thirds of survivors reported their domestic abuse worsening during the pandemic.
This will be shown in Chantelle’s storyline, who finally decides to leave Gray after a tortuous lockdown period with her abuser.
Executive producer Jon Sen previously explained: "Chantelle's story is such an important one to tell accurately and upon both characters' inception we planned her tragic ending with the intention of embedding the stark reality of domestic abuse at the heart of the Atkins family.
"Being able to shed light on the realities of what goes on behind closed doors has never been more crucial given the harrowing statistics as a result of the current pandemic and hopefully Chantelle's story will encourage people to speak out to someone they trust and get the support that they need.
"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."
Plummer added: "It's been such a privilege to play Chantelle and to be able to tell her story.
"Sadly what she goes through is all too common and her death is a reminder of the devastating effect of domestic abuse.
"I've known it wasn't going to end well for Chantelle for a while now and although it was a shock to find out her fate, far too many men and women suffer in silence so I hope that by raising awareness we can ultimately save lives.
"I am so grateful to all the team and my lovely cast members for being so supportive, I'll miss Albert Square!"
Lisa King of Refuge said: "The Covid-19 crisis has magnified the reality that many survivors like Chantelle face every day.
"Domestic abuse is the biggest issue affecting our society and millions of women and girls remain trapped with an abusive partner.
"Sadly, Chantelle's murder is not an isolated incident – on average, two women a week are killed by a current or former partner in England and Wales.
"We urge anyone who has been affected by Chantelle's story to contact Refuge's National Domestic Abuse Helpline (0808 2000 247, http://www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk). No one should live in fear – you are not alone."
Why did EastEnders ‘spoil’ Chantelle’s death twist?
Some EastEnders fans were gutted that the soap had revealed how the story ends instead of leaving it as a surprise.
But BBC bosses don’t want to cause undue upset by not warning viewers about the distressing scenes they’re about to watch.
This way, fans have the option to choose whether or not they want to watch the upsetting scenes.
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