Emmerdale’s Matty Barton is on the verge of romance next week when sister-in-law Victoria starts to feel an attraction to her friend. Will the obstacles of Matty being transgender, having known Vic when he was Hannah, and her estranged husband being Matty’s sibling get in the way?
Since Matty’s first appearance as the soap’s first regular transgender character, fans have been clamouring for a fling between him and Victoria, thanks to Ash Palmisciano and Isabel Hodgins’s immediate on-screen chemistry. In next week’s episodes, Vic panics when she realises her feelings are running deeper than friendship and distances herself from Matty, but the pair are soon drawn back together.
We spoke to Palmisciano and Hodgins about the future of soap’s most charming double act of the moment…
How does this frisson of attraction come about for Victoria? Isabel: She starts to feel things for Matty which comes as a shock to her and she doesn’t quite know how to process it or what to do, it’s out of the blue. It’s in the early stages, but I think it’s having that closeness again after being on her own. She’s happy to have her best friend back, but he makes her feel good again so she reads more into what he’s saying.
Does Matty feel the same? Ash: He’s got a new confidence about him that he perhaps didn’t have as Hannah. At the moment he’s so happy to have his best friend back in his life and be so accepting of him, at a time when maybe his
family aren’t as understanding. He’s grateful to have Victoria there.
Do either of them discuss the fact Vic was married to Adam? A: I think that’s maybe to come… I: There will be a fair few obstacles that face us as it’s not the most traditional or conventional of relationships. There’s a lot to unpack within this, which I am sure will be dealt with later.
Has Matty had any relationships with women? A: He has had a small dalliance with a lady, but Matty is finding that side of things really hard. He’s up for figuring out who he is before meeting someone, but wants to experience that attraction because it makes him feel good enough as a guy – but he’s not had any luck. And when do you tell someone you meet that you’re trans? It’s easy with Victoria because she knows and he doesn’t have to worry about it.
Victoria avoids him after their moment, how do they come back into contact? A: Matty tries to impress Moira by buying a bull that he thinks will save the farm, then it transpires he’s bought a dud and it won’t make them any money! So he asks Vic to help him out and they plan to pull a heist on the lady that sold him the bull to get some money back…
Fans reacted positively to Matty and Victoria’s first scenes, did that make you feel the audience is already on board with the relationship? A: Yeah, it’s exciting to think what could happen. Those were the first scenes we filmed having only just met, so I was wondering how it would go down, but people seem to like the friendship which is lovely.
What reaction have you had as the first regular transgender member of the cast? A: I knew it would create a stir and split opinion, but the response has been amazing. I’ve had lots of messages saying it has opened up conversations, and how young trans people spoke to their families after the initial scenes between Matty and Moira. I think it’s having a positive impact and I hope it normalises what it means to be trans.
As a trans actor playing a trans role, do you think the story is being told honestly? A: I’ve lived this so I can see on the page what is right. Emmerdale have been great and encouraged me to contribute anything to make this as authentic as possible – I want to get it right. I came to the show as an advisor with a charity called All About Trans to discuss positive representations of trans people in the media, with an eye to the show introducing a trans character. I came for a bit of jolly for some lunch and to advise, and I ended up auditioning and now here I am playing the part!
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