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20 March 2019, 12:11 | Updated: 20 March 2019, 13:17
Matthew, who plays David Metcalfe in the ITV soap, has responded to the public backlash against the grooming storyline
Emmerdale star Matthew Wolfendon has defended the show against the recent backlash to the child grooming storyline, arguing that it is 'supposed to be uncomfortable' for viewers to watch.
Matthew, 31, plays David Metcalfe, whose on-screen step-son Jacob Gallagher is being groomed by his girlfriend Maya Stepney in the soap - and he has praised soap writers for highlighting a real-life issue.
He told new! magazine: "There's been a lot of positive response, but there's been a lot of negative too. But the negative says what we're doing, we're doing well.
"People are saying, 'It's horrible, I can't watch!' That's exactly my point - it's supposed to be uncomfortable and this happens in real life!
"If we do get some positive feedback then, I think it's a good thing."
Matthew's character David has been at the centre of the controversial storyline, and has remained unaware about what's unfurling between his girlfriend and stepson.
His words come after Louisa Clein, who plays Maya, discussed the controversy on a recent episode of Lorraine.
She said: "There's a lot more of the story to tell but it's moving towards an end.
"We've had a real mixed reaction, we've obviously had people who are incredibly shocked, which is right.
"We don't want to tell a romantic, titillating story.
"We've had this mixture of people saying 'please make it stop now, we've had enough' but others saying 'thank you for telling this story'."
Louisa also revealed that she had been bombarded with messages from real-life victims of abuse, saying: "I've had messages from people saying 'this has really helped me, the relationship I thought I had was wrong.
"I am getting these messages and it's amazing and it makes it worth it."
And opening up about her character, Louisa added: "She has this veneer of being a professional, intelligent woman, she seems to have a normal relationship with David.
"There's nothing that's screaming dirty old man.
"It has been tough for me to play, it's been a real challenge, but I'm here to get that word out there."