After returning to Emmerdale in 2018, the new year doesn’t start off any easier for Matty Barton as he is viciously attacked on New Year’s Eve. Actor Ash Palmisciano reveals more about Matty’s start to 2019.
Matty Barton (Ash Palmisciano) is looking forward to 2019 and heads out for a New Year’s Eve Party that turns his world upside once again when he comes face to face with former boyfriend Isaac. As Issac realises that Matty was once Hannah Barton, his mates start to poke fun at him which is where the night takes a dark turn. Emmerdale actor Ash Palmisciano explains…
“So the history is that Hannah in Matty’s former life had a little dalliance with Isaac,” explains Ash. “They got together at a stage where Hannah was trying to find who she was and she thought if I just go with a boy it might sort my head out and stop me from thinking all this stuff. It wasn’t very pleasant for Hannah but it was part and parcel of growing up. Anyway, cut to Matty settling into the village and bumps into Isaac on New Year’s Eve and straight away thinks how is this going to go down? A boyfriend from the past seeing me as Matty, and Isaac doesn’t take it too well at all.
“It’s one of those situations where he recognises the face a little bit and thinks do I know this person and then with Vic and everything else finds out who it is and that he used to be Hannah. Isaac is really kind of embarrassed in front of his mates who are all like ‘hey you got with a boy!’ Matty tries to calm the situation down and thinks this is bloody awkward this, I’m supposed to be having a good time and I’ve got this guy calling me a freak and everything else at the party, so Matty leaves a little bit upset and says goodnight.
“But then unfortunately bumps into Isaac again on the way home with his mates and that’s when it all gets a bit nasty. He pulls Matty to one side on the walk home and Isaac is so embarrassed that this guy is presenting himself as male in front of his lad mates that he tries to prove a point. So they grab Matty and they actually strip Matty and take his top off.
“This is the worst thing in the world that could ever happen to Matty, he is so embarrassed of his body anyway and trying his best to fit back into the village, he’s desperate for surgery, he’s humiliated – and they pin him down to the point where he can’t move. They take his top off and of course what he has been wearing underneath is a compression vest – a binder is what they call it – and they say, ‘There you go, you’re still a woman aren’t you?’ and that knocks Matty’s head for a long time, it really really disturbs him. The whole village sees it and he has no choice but to run away.”
The next day, Matty confides in Cain Dingle (Jeff Hordley) who accidentally spills Matty’s secret to Moira (Natalie J Robb) and Faith (Sally Dexter) and soon Moira confronts Matty about his run in with Isaac. Once alone he opens up to her about the history with him. Meanwhile, Cain is left simmering and is soon seeking revenge.
“The problem is he wakes up the next day and he won’t talk about it, he’s so humiliated and embarrassed,” adds Ash. “Normally Moira can suss when something is not right, but Matty doesn’t want to talk about it at all.
“But Cain susses that Matty’s not right and pulls him to one side. They have this beautiful male bonding relationship happening and Matty ends up explaining what happened and asks Cain to teach him how to defend himself. He’s worried that it might happen again and he couldn’t do anything, he hasn’t been nurtured in that way and doesn’t know what to do in those situations. Cain says no I’m not going to teach you how to fight but I think we should tell your mum, but of course Matty is so humiliated that he does not want to tell his mum.
Then on the other side you have Victoria Barton (Isabel Hodgins), who was there and witnessed it all, wants Matty to go the police – but of course Cain doesn’t want him to go to the police because if he does that and they come to the house they might start questioning Cain and everything else. So what Cain does, Cain Dingle style – is take it in his own hands and goes to beat up these guys. Matty didn’t ask him to and doesn’t want him to but that’s how Cain deals with problems…”
With Emmerdale fans taking Matty into their hearts, the New Year’s Eve scenes and what follows for both Matty and Cain will not be easy viewing with hard-hitting scenes, but what was it like filming it?
“It was a fantastic scene to film from an actor’s perspective because it was really gritty and quite full on,” enthuses Ash. “We had a fight coordinator on to choreograph it. They were amazing and had it planned out and we’d gone through it so many times so we knew how the top was going to come off and what position we were going to be in.
“So as an actor it was fantastic to play and really important to play as well, as it is going to show how uncomfortable it is for someone like Matty who is trying so hard to transition and does not want to show people that. It is what trans people probably do face and the uncomfortableness they have to go through and the fact that people don’t get it and want to make it an oddity rather than understanding it.”
Reeling from the attack, Matty asks Ellis Grant (Asan N’Jie) to help him bulk up with some personal training sessions. However, during the training session it becomes clear Matty is struggling with something…
“Matty decides I’m going to build myself up now, I’m going to start exercising with Ellis, and Ellis puts him through his paces, adds Ash. “They go running around the village, they do lots of different working out and things. He really puts Matty through his paces, but the awkward thing is Matty is really struggling – with this binder, he is struggling to breathe. And he doesn’t want to tell the lads can we take this easy, so it is really uncomfortable for him. His life is getting in the way of him just living, you know?”
Can Matty Barton put the attack behind him and what action will he take against his attackers and to make himself more comfortable in his own skin? What would Ash like to see for his on-screen alter ego in 2019?
“I think Matty needs to have some wins,” starts Ash. “He’s lost the girl to Ellis, he’s had this awful attack, so I think he is going to gain some new confidence this year and stop trying to please everyone. Maybe a potential new love interest and I think he’s going to start finding what he wants to be in the village job-wise, what does he really want to do? He’s working at the shop, he’s working at the pub so I think he is going to start coming into himself. Also I think he went through a stage where he thought had to be a stereotypical guy and that might include fighting – but I think he is going to figure out who he really actually is which is exciting.”