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TV Quickfire: Ash Palmisciano on Matty's new 'bad boy' mates in Emmerdale

Transgender actor Ash Palmisciano plays Matty in Emmerdale, the soap's first ever transgender character. We quizzed him about his dramatic upcoming storylines

Matty Barton (Ash Palmisciano) gets in with a bad crowd on Emmerdale
Georgia Humphreys

CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHO MATTY'S NEW MATES ARE?

Matty is still trying to settle in to the village. When he's playing football, he's picked last a lot of the time, he's left out by the other lads. He meets some lads who are playing in a team against him called Steve and Jonno, and they're pretty bad boys really. And Ash feels that in order for him to be respected by the other lads, for him to be a "proper man", he has to be like one of those guys.

WHAT IMPACT WILL WE SEE STEVE AND JONNO HAVE ON HIM?

Matty feels as though he has to be more like them in order to fit in. Basically he's going though it a little bit late in life – something that most lads go through at about 12 or 13 – trying to figure out how to act with the lads. It's definitely a side to him that we haven't seen before.

WHAT KIND OF BAD BEHAVIOUR DOES HE GET UP TO?

Talking disrespectfully to women. Getting into fights. Alienating himself and not talking about his emotions.

Also, this is a bit of an issue with having Cain (who's in a relationship with Matty's mother Moira) as a role model. He's the big man who sorts everything out, and so Matty feels that's how he ought to behave.

MATTY FINDS OUT THAT THESE SO-CALLED MATES HAVE BEEN SAYING HURTFUL THINGS BEHIND HIS BACK...

This is the thing – in Matty's head he thinks it's all going well – he thinks he's doing the right thing knocking around with these guys. But actually, they're just taking the mick out of him. They're bullies, really. They're using him to get what they want, and they eventually use him to help them break in to Butler's Farm.

They know about his background (being transgender), and they are using his need for acceptance to manipulate him.

CAN MATTY SEE THAT HE'S ACTING LIKE AN IDIOT?

He can, and he knows that he doesn't want to be acting like this. He's a good egg – he doesn't want to be offensive to people in the village. But it's what he thinks he needs to be right now.

Also, he's never had a group of lad mates before, and he's just so wanting to be liked. He's desperate for validation, so he goes down this dark path.

HAVE YOU EVER FELT SIMILAR PRESSURE YOURSELF?

Yeah, definitely. I think everybody goes through it at school at some point, when you're growing up and want to fit in, and you just copy everyone else.

It's a bit of a hot topic at the minute, isn't it? The way lads can behave to each other can be very toxic, and that gets passed down. There are strict rules for lads when it comes to behaviour – not showing emotion, not talking about feelings.

#MeToo has been a great movement for women and now we're looking at men and how they behave with each other and thinking if maybe that can change, then things will be better.

WILL MATTY STOP BEFORE HE RUINS HIS FUTURE?

He does take it to a point where he's a bit out of control.

I think it will be beneficial in the long run, because now he knows it's OK to be different. And he has this beautiful friendship with Ryan where they can both say: "You don't have to be like everyone else."

So, I think he'll be his own person after what, and we'll finally see the real Matty, which I very excited about.

:: Watch Emmerdale weeknights on ITV

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