EASTENDERS fans were left shocked by "nice guy" Toby-Alexander Smith in tonight's episode of Secrets From The Square, with the 30-year-old actor worlds away from evil abuser Gray Atkins in real life.
The star opened up to host Stacey Dooley about being shouted at in the street for his character's behaviour on screen – but insisted that he didn't mind as long as it helped victims of domestic violence.
Toby-Alexander appeared in tonight's behind-the-scenes episode alongside Jessica Plummer, who plays Gray's wife Chantelle.
Viewers were shocked last year when it was revealed that Gray regularly abuses and beats Chantelle, with the sick character even raping her in one harrowing scene.
When asked about how fans interact with him when they see him out and about, the actor explained: "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."
Stacey then read a quote from Women's Aid which said that stories such as Gray and Chantelle's being depicted on screen "saves lives", with humbled Toby replying: "To be told something like that is a huge reward for us."
Viewers at home couldn't get over how different Toby was from his Walford alter ego – with several taking to social media to admit that they were struggling with the fact they now liked him.
One wrote: "Hats off to @_TobyAlexander , he plays Gray so incredibly well but he seems such a lovely gentle person.
"I have so much respect for the actors that play the 'bad guys' in soaps."
Another agreed: "Toby seems absolutely lovely!"
A third wrote: "Aww Gray could’ve been such a great Mr. Nice Guy if he wasn’t so twisted".
One more tweeted: "It should be illegal for Toby to be that sexy."
Toby is not the only EastEnders star to have shocked viewers with their real life persona this week, with Linda Henry also causing a stir when she appeared on Secrets From The Square yesterday.
Linda is famed for playing hardfaced tough nut Shirley Carter, leaving fans stunned when she repeatedly choked up in the interview and broke down in tears as she reflected on missing her grandson in lockdown.
Her co-star Luisa Bradshaw-White fuelled the shock when she admitted that Linda cries "all the time", adding that she is a very "emotional" and "sensitive" person.
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