Emmerdale return: Hannah Barton is now Matty – soap introduces first transgender regular

Ash Palmisciano joins the cast for a groundbreaking storyline

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Emmerdale is breaking new ground with the arrival of the soap’s first regular transgender character, Matty Barton – previously known as Moira Dingle’s daughter Hannah.

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In scenes airing later this month, Matty arrives at Butler’s Farm and is knocked out cold by Cain Dingle who mistakes him for a burglar attempting to break in. But when Moira sees the would-be intruder she immediately recognises him as her daughter, Hannah, who left the village in 2012.

Matty’s arrival will turn Moira’s world upside down and plunge the Barton clan into an emotional crisis as they adjust to his presence and new identity. “Matty is a man trying to shake off his past and find acceptance in the present,” says Emmerdale producer Kate Brookes. “His story is full of emotion, humour and ultimately hope as he settles back into rural village life, reconnecting with old friends and forging new relationships along the way.

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

Playing the role is the cast’s first regular trans actor Ash Palmisciano, whose other TV credits include Boy Meets Girl and Mum, who Brookes describes as having “an unflinching honesty to his performance that adds real depth to this complex character.”

Speaking about his new role, Palmisciano says: “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 groundbreaking character to play and I can’t wait to see what’s ahead for him.”

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Hannah Barton, played by Grace Cassidy, left the village six years ago following the tragic death of her father John. Details of the character’s transition to Matty in the intervening years, and whether any members of the Barton family were aware it was happening, are not yet known.

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