EastEnders' domestic abuse storyline is set to end in tragedy as Chantelle is killed by her husband Gray when the show returns on Monday after almost 3 months off air.
Production was halted on the show due to the coronavirus outbreak. The cast resumed filming at the end of June with new social distancing protocols in place. Intimate moments between characters are being filmed with the use of screens, body doubles and CGI to help film intimate moments.
As the soap returns viewers will see the harrowing mental and physical abuse suffered by Chantelle (Jessica Plummer) at the hands of her husband, violent and controlling Gray (Toby Alexander-Smith), has worsened throughout lockdown, with ultimately fatal consequences.
EastEnders has worked closely with Women's Aid and Refuge in the UK on the storyline, and the soap said the prevalence of domestic abuse in society meant it was important to represent the issue as accurately as possible.
Chantelle has been isolating with her husband and the show picks up as she makes the big decision to file for divorce. After attempting to escape, she will be killed by her abuser.
Jon Sen, executive producer of the soap, said: "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!"
If you have been affected by issues raised in this story, please visit: www.rte.ie/helplines
EastEnders returns to RTÉ One and BBC One on September 7, at 8.05pm and will air four nights a week.