EastEnders has made UK soap history by casting a transgender actor to play a transgender character in a continuing role.
Riley Carter Millington, 21, is set to join the cast playing transgender character, Kyle.
Viewers will get a brief glimpse of Kyle on screen this October, before the character returns permanently at the end of the year.
So far not much is known about the character and not much will be revealed for a while.
EastEnders is Millington’s first acting role, and he said: “I am extremely excited to be joining EastEnders. I can honestly say that I have now fulfilled my two biggest dreams – to be living my life as a man and to be an actor.
“I cannot wait to really get stuck in with filming and I look forward to seeing what is in store for my character.”
In a statement, EastEnders executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins referenced previous storylines such as Mark Fowler’s HIV and Colin and Barry’s first gay kiss, saying that the soap has “always led the way in changing audience’s perceptions about ‘difference’.
“And we have been so careful to ensure that we cast the right actor for the part. I’ve sat in many acting workshops over the years with our casting executive Julia Crampsie and her team – but never have we been so moved by the incredible life stories and wealth of talent that we experienced over our several weeks of workshops with transgender actors.
“The people we met showed us a strength and bravery that took our breath away – and to go through as much as they have while maintaining humour and a positive view on the world is testament to what special people we met.”
He went on to say that Millington was “not just a talented actor, but also an inspirational young man”, and stressed that “t his isn’t about tokenism”.
He added: “Alex Lamb and his story team have worked with Riley to create an EastEnders character who is fresh and relatable – but also comes with his own stock of secrets and is going to be thrown right into one of our biggest stories for the end of the year. I hope that the audience will take Riley and his character to their hearts as quickly as everyone here at EastEnders has done.”