Emmerdale transgender actor reveals what it is like to play ‘groundbreaking’ character Matty

Emmerdale will be debuting its first transgender character next week and actor Ash Palmisciano has opened up about “groundbreaking” Matty’s dramatic first storyline.

The actor, who is also trans, will be playing Moira Barton’s long lost child Hannah, who disappeared in 2012, and has now transitioned.

In his first interview with The Radio Times, Palmisciano revealed he was excited to play a character rarely covered in soaps.

Emmerdale’s first trans actor and character played by Ash Palmisciano opened about about the role (ITV/Emmerdale)

He said: “It’s absolutely amazing and a fantastic opportunity – for me personally, but also for the soap to build a groundbreaking character. It’s something new, it’s never been done before on the soap, and it’s rarely been done anywhere else. It’s very exciting and I can’t wait to see what people think of the character.”

And as with anyone connected to Moira (Natalie Robb), Matty’s entrance is set to be very dramatic and will even see him getting whacked by Cain Dingle (Jeff Hordley).

“It’s quite the entrance! Matty has come back because he needs his birth certificate. At first, he toys with the idea of knocking on the door and speaking to his mum and then he realises that’s going to be far too awkward. Too much time has gone by. So he breaks into the house while no one is in,” explains Palmisciano.

“And just when he’s found what he’s looking for, he’s confronted by Cain, who thinks that Matty is an associate of drug dealer Simon. So it all ends in a confrontation, Matty gets knocked out, and just as he’s coming round, Moira enters the room…”

Revealing Moira’s reaction, he said: “At first, she thinks it’s just Cain beating up a young guy. But then she looks straight at Matty’s face and a mum always knows what her kids look like. She greets him with, ‘Hannah, what have you done?’

“She’s really confused. She can’t work out what’s happened. She knows her child looks different and is completely baffled. And Matty is obviously very emotional – this is the first time they’ve spoken in five years.

“He’s undergone a complete gender change, which is a big thing to just spring on his family. So it’s all very high emotion.”

Matty is attacked by Cain as he breaks into Moira’s house (ITV/Emmerdale)

Moira has endured a painful six years since Matty disappeared – including losing her daughter Holly. She’s set to learn that throughout this Matty has been living close by, leaving her feeling betrayed.

“Moira feels that Matty has let her down, not just with the transition bombshell, but also the fact that he’s been living so close to his mum and has missed so many important things,” he explained.

“Moira has been through a lot. I hope they can heal their relationship – I think it would be a beautiful story if they did. I am going to be around for a bit, but let’s just say that things aren’t going to be easy between the two of them.”

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

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.

Ash Palmisciano as Matty Barton (ITV/Emmerdale)

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.”