Emmerdale to introduce transgender character

Emmerdale is bringing back a former character – and revealing that they’re transgender.

The long-running ITV soap has cast transgender Boy Meets Girl actor Ash Palmisciano to play Matty Barton on the soap – the youngest child of John Barton and Moira Dingle.

The character, previously known as Hannah Barton, appeared on the soap from 2009 to 2012 played by Grace Cassidy.

But the soap is set for drama as Moira (Natalie J. Robb) discovers that her child has transitioned to male and taken the name Matty.

Ash Palmisciano as Matty Barton and Natalie J. Robb as Moira Barton (Emmerdale)

Producer Kate Brooks said: “The character of Matty certainly knows how to make an impact: cheeky, effervescent, quick-witted and headstrong, it’s not long before he’s charmed his way into the affections of all those who meet him.

“His tale of a man trying to shake off his past and find acceptance in the present is full of emotion, humour and ultimately hope as he settles back into rural village life, turning Moira’s world upside down in the process.

“We are absolutely thrilled to have Ash on board to play this role. A skilful actor of great talent, he exudes charisma and there’s an unflinching honesty to his performance that adds real depth to this complex character.

“Ash has already proven himself to be a brilliant addition to the cast and we look forward to charting his journey as he reconnects with old friends and forges new relationships along the way.”

Ash Palmisciano as Matty Barton (Emmerdale)

Ash Palmisciano said: “I’m very excited to be joining the very welcoming Emmerdale family. From nervous auditions to now working alongside the team daily has been truly amazing.

“Matty’s a ground breaking character to play and I can’t wait to see what’s ahead for him.”

In 2014 the show was forced to cut a scene featuring a transgender actress after she complained about transphobic jokes at the character’s expense

The scene featured four female characters in a gay bar competing to get phone numbers from other women.

Trans actress Samantha Valentine, who played the barmaid, complained to ITV over dialogue in which the competing women argued that the barmaid “does not count” as a woman and is “a he not a she”.

The show apologised, with creative director John Whiston describing the scene as “plain wrong”.

He said: “I wholly agree that including such unchallenged attitudes in Emmerdale is plain wrong. It is a huge disappointment to me and to the team that in this instance such unthinking and old-fashioned prejudice should have crept into the show in this way.

“Apparently it was added at a very late stage before filming when the show was in danger of under-running.

“It would no doubt have been picked up by myself, the producer or Compliance, when we viewed and approved the programme prior to transmission.

“It is really good you have brought it to our attention now and we’ve been able to take action at this earlier stage.”