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TV Quickfire: Emmerdale's Ash Palmisciano

The response to Matty Barton, Emmerdale's first trans character, has been huge. And Ash Palmisciano, the 25-year-old actor who plays him, is excited to be opening up conversations. Georgia Humphreys finds out more

Ash Palmisciano plays trans character Matty Barton in Emmerdale

TELL US MORE ABOUT THE HOUSE PARTY STORYLINE, WHEN MATTY MEETS ABBY

Matty has his first on-screen kiss with her, which is exciting. They click and get on well, but the big thing is, he hasn't told her he's trans yet.

She's putting pressure on him saying, "Are we going back to yours or mine?" and he's thinking, "I just met this lovely girl, what am I going to do?"

He has some beautiful moments when he confides in Vic [his friend, Victoria] and says he's going to tell her. He goes to tell her, and it's not the right moment.

VICTORIA THEN TELLS ABBY ABOUT MATTY'S TRANSITION BEFORE HE HAS CHANCE TO HIMSELF. HOW DOES HE FEEL ABOUT THAT?

Abby is not cool with it and dumps Matty and that's that. He's embarrassed because it's his first rejection, as Matty, with a girl, and is worried that's going to be his life now and that nobody will ever understand.

He loves Vic and thinks they are besties, but he takes it to heart, thinking she's done it on purpose, so it's quite an explosive scene.

HAS MATTY HAD RELATIONSHIPS BEFORE?

He did have a small dalliance with a woman, but Matty is finding that side of stuff really hard.

He's up for figuring out who he is before meeting someone, but he wants to feel that attraction, because it makes himself feel good enough as a guy, but he's not had any luck.

And it's that bombshell; when do you tell someone you meet that you're trans?

HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR EMMERDALE TO HAVE A TRANS CHARACTER?

When I chose to take this part as an actor, I knew it was going to create quite a stir, especially in something like Emmerdale, where it's the first trans character ever in the soap.

Obviously, it's going to split opinions. It's something new and something people aren't used to. But the response has been incredible.

WHAT SORT OF REACTIONS HAVE YOU HAD TO MATTY'S STORYLINE SO FAR?

I've had a lot of young trans people message me and say, "I've started having conversations with my mum about being trans after seeing that scene last night". I've had grandparents message me to say thanks for helping them understand.

Matty is a very ordinary guy, who happens to be trans. He's a son, he's a cheeky chappy, he's got a lot more going on apart from the label, and hopefully that will make a big impact.

AS A TRANSGENDER ACTOR, ARE THERE TIMES WHEN YOU ARE RELIVING YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES AS MATTY?

This is definitely a role, in the sense that he has been away and come back to this village. I had family around me from the start, so it's definitely different. Matty's story is different from mine, but it has helped having that insight into how he might feel.

WERE YOU WORRIED ABOUT PUBLICITY SURROUNDING SUCH A PIONEERING ROLE?

A bit. In the past, I've not taken roles as I felt they haven't been right and I didn't want to put that label to my name. Growing up has made me realise that if you want to make a change, you have to be that.

Hopefully it will be a message to people that, no matter what your story is or what you've done with your life, you can pursue your career and dreams.

WHERE DO YOU SEE THE CHARACTER OF MATTY GOING?

Who knows?! That's what is so exciting – so many possibilities! I don't think that has ever been shown on TV – a trans person after transitioning, living their life like an average person and how that works.

:: Watch Emmerdale weeknights on ITV

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