The BBC has made a piece of television history by becoming the first British station to cast a transgender actor in a transgender role in a soap opera. The long-running ‘Eastenders’ has cast 21 year old Riley Carter Millington in the role of Kyle, who will hit screens later in October with a view to becoming a regular character by the end of 2015.

While this is not the first time that a transgender character has appeared in a British, it does represent the first time that a transgender actor will portray a transgender character.

EastEndersAlbert Square will be getting a transgender character later this month

Millington reacted to the casting, the major role that he’s landed since he graduated from drama school, by saying: “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.”

‘EastEnders’ executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins announced in March this year that a part for a transgender character would be opening in the future, and that he favoured casting a transgender actor if at all possible. Announcing Millington’s casting, he revealed that he had held workshops in order to look for a suitable actor.

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“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.”

“In Riley, we have found not just a talented actor but also an inspirational young man whose warmth immediately comes through the screen. And this isn’t about tokenism. 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.”

In January this year, the two Russell T Davies series ‘Cucumber’ and ‘Banana’ became the first UK TV shows to feature a trans actor, Bethany Black, who played a regular character who was also transgender, Helen.

Last month, the BBC2 sitcom ‘Boy Meets Girl’ also contained the debut of another transgender actor, Rebecca Root, who also has a small role in the upcoming Eddie Redmayne movie The Danish Girl.

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