Emmerdale’s Matthew Wolfenden reveals new role after soap and shares exit details

Emmerdale’s Matthew Wolfenden has revealed he is leaving the hit ITV soap after almost 20 years – to star in Elf the Musical.

The 43-year-old actor, who has played shopkeeper David Metcalfe since 2006, has landed the lead role of Buddy in the stage show for its run at London’s Dominion Theatre over the festive period – starting on 15 November and ending on 6 January 2024. It comes after recent reports that Matthew was looking to leave Emmerdale to ‘see what else is out there’ after not getting any gritty storylines on the soap.

Matthew appeared on This Morning on Wednesday to share the news of his exit while teasing some details of how he is to be written out.

Speaking to hosts Holly Willoughby and Craig Doyle, he said: “I am so nervous about leaving after nearly two decades, but it feels like the right time.”

However, he added the door had been ‘left open’ for him to return in the future. He said: “They’re not killing me off. I’ve been promised…and I am allowed to tell you that. Who knows, I might be back.”

Matthew became teary after a video montage of his time on Emmerdale was shown and he said he had been caught off guard by how emotional his impending exit had made him. He added: “It has been a massive part of my life. I met my wife on the show and we’ve had three kids, so not only has it given me this many years of an amazing job, it’s given me a family.

“To leave it…it’s been a big part of my life…it’s been an amazing 18 years.”

Teasing the circumstances surrounding his departure from the soap, Matthew said it was related to his character David’s ex Victoria – played by Isabel Hodgins. In upcoming episodes it appears David is going to try to rekindle his romance with Victoria, which could play a part in his exit.

“There is a resolution of sorts, but I can’t give too much away,’ Matthew said. “Victoria is the reason why he leaves the village, put it that way. It’s not the best, but he leaves because of her in a way.”

Matthew also discussed the storylines he had acted in over the years – with David’s cancer battle in particular standing out for him. He said: “We did a testicular cancer and chemotherapy storyline where David lost all his hair and I spent six months shaving my eyebrows and hair.

“The people I met through it, people who survived cancer, it was an incredible period of time and I am really proud of that storyline. I really do feel as an actor that I did that justice.”

Matthew, who also appeared on the seventh series of Dancing on Ice, which he went on to win, went on to say he was due to start rehearsals for Elf the Musical a matter of days after finishing filming Emmerdale. Before joining the soap, he spent five years on the West End and said he was excited to return to the stage after almost two decades – even though ‘the nerves were there’.

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