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As Eastenders Casts Riley Carter Millington, First Transgender Actor In UK Soap History, An Upcoming Piece Of Disability Progress Goes Almost Unnoticed

October 9, 2015

Late last night, Digital Spy carried the news that Eastenders have cast Riley Carter Millington, 21. He will play a transgender character called Kyle. Even more importantly, Carter Millington will be the first transgender actor to play a transgender character in UK soap history.

A very important piece of progress for the transgender community. A very important piece of progress that I, a physically disabled person who celebrates any diversity in the media, also very warmly welcome.

This morning, the news of Carter Millington’s casting and character is everywhere. Reportedly Kyle will appear briefly this month before being part of a major storyline nearer the end of this year.

On Monday, Digital Spy carried another Eastenders- related article. This was an interview with disabled actress Lisa Hammond, who plays disabled character Donna Yeats.

Disabled characters in Eastenders are, I’m very pleased to say, nothing new. Donna Yeats is part of a long line of them- and many are very popular. From Janet Mitchell to Jean and Stacey Slater, disabled people on the Square have had major storylines and firm roots as the relatives of Walford royalty.

It was the upcoming storyline news revealed by Lisa Hammond in the interview that will mark a major piece of progress for disability representation in UK soaps.

She revealed that Donna is going to “get passionate” with Fatboy Chubb in upcoming episodes. However, this upcoming storyline seems to have gone unnoticed in the mainstream media so far.

Fans will have to wait and see whether the storyline develops into a long-term relationship, but even if it doesn’t, I welcome it very warmly.

Why? Because fans know that Fatboy is a ‘normal’ young man. He loves a laugh and often hangs out in the Queen Vic. If Donna, the wheelchair user, wanted an age-appropriate, non-disabled person to have a romantic storyline with, she couldn’t have got more ‘normal’ than Fatboy.

If that is the message Eastenders want to send out with the storyline, it’s one I warmly welcome. Because yes, some non disabled people do take a romantic interest in their disabled friends- and it is perfectly fine for them to do so.

Donna and Fatboy have been friends for some time, so even if their relationship doesn’t turn serious, the reason behind this, I sincerely hope, will not be Donna’s need to use a wheelchair.

I sincerely hope that even if they do only have a one-night stand, the reason behind this will simply be to show the audience that disabled people do have one night stands, too- and it is perfectly fine for them to do so.

Again, I warmly welcome both the casting of Riley Carter Millington in the role of Kyle and the upcoming storyline between Donna and Fatboy. I look forward to watching both onscreen.

Eastenders is a national institution, with great power to use both of these very progressive storylines to change audiences’ attitudes positively. I, for one, sincerely hope they remember this and make every effort to do so.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 9, 2015 1:08 pm

    Reblogged this on perfectlyfadeddelusions.

  2. mark taha permalink
    October 9, 2015 2:41 pm

    They’ve had an ablebodied character with a disabled girlfriend in Coronation -Gary Windass and -think her name was Izzy.


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