Emmerdale addresses the brutal reality of transphobia in Matty’s shocking new storyline

Image shows the moment in the fight where Samson is accidentally stabbed by Matty. Matty is facing away from the camera and Samson is facing towards it. Josh is in the background.

In Thursday night’s episode of UK soap Emmerdale (6 June), a hate-filled exchange between three characters – one of whom is a transgender man – leads to a truly shocking tragedy.

In the episode, Matty Barton, played by trailblazing trans actor Ash Palmisciano, is confronted at work by troublemaking character Josh (Osian Morgan) and his friend Samson Dingle (Sam Hall).

The scenes unfold in Emmerdale’s bar and bistro, The Hide. Josh and Samson have had too much to drink, and Josh makes inappropriate comments about Amy – hitting on her in front of her husband Matty. She feels too uncomfortable to stay and leaves Matty to close the shop on his own.

Josh doubles down on his bad behaviour and decides to rob The Hide, demanding money out of the till. The easily-led Samson Dingle goes along with him and shouts at Matty to hand over the cash.

Things soon escalate even further. Josh deadnames Matty and makes other transphobic comments, including labelling him a “freak”. Josh then pushes Samson into Matty, causing him to be accidentally stabbed by the knife that Matty is holding as part of his attempts to clean up and close the business for the evening.

Adding insult to (Samson’s) injury, Josh called for an ambulance and told 999 that Matty had attacked them – and Samson shamefully allowed him to frame Matty for the crime.

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It’s not the first time Emmerdale has touched on transphobia this year. Previously, another character – Claudette Anderson – banned Matty and Amy from using the village hall as part of their wedding celebrations.

Claudette complained that the building was “church property”, but she later apologised for her behaviour.

Image shows Matty Barton (Ash Palmisciano) in a police car
Matty was arrested after the stabbing (ITV)

Speaking to Digital Spy about his character’s dramatic new storyline, Ash Palmisciano explained: “I think it is really interesting. It is something we haven’t seen much of and it applies to anybody, whether you’re trans or not – sometimes you encounter situations where people just aren’t nice.

“Whether that’s because of who you are or just because it is who they are as a person.

“So to show how vulnerable Matty can be in a situation like that was really incredible. It is also really topical – not everyone is super accepting.

“It is great Matty’s got that support. It’s lovely to tell, we showed the wedding (between Matty and Amy) recently, it was an exciting joyous moment. It looked so incredible on screen.

“But sometimes we need to show the flip side of that, how it could go the other way and could be quite cruel for someone like Matty. It shows the bigger picture of what it is like to be him. I was really excited and it’s fantastic we get to mirror that and to tell that story.”

He also praised his co-stars Osian Morgan and Sam Hall, saying: “It has been amazing – although the subject matter is pretty heavy, as we’re covering transphobia and we’re covering an argument that goes too far and something terrible happens.

“In terms of having action, it was great as we had a fight director, Kate Walters, on set who choreographed the action. It looks amazing on screen – it has been done so well. It was exciting to work with the actors in order to make it look as real as possible.”

Emmerdale airs on weeknights from 7.30pm on ITV1 or you can watch on demand on ITVX.

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