EastEnders is set to introduce the first major transgender character in the soap’s history.

Executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins – who is charged with revitalising the long-running show – revealed the plans yesterday.

He said: “The power of EastEnders is to change the world – so you change it gently. I am intending to introduce a trans character.

“We try and do all our research because we want to tell it properly.

“The pen hasn’t hit the paper yet. I am looking for actors and I need the right character.

“I would want to cast a trans actor as well. You have to – you have to cast a trans actor, but you also don’t want to mess up the story because EastEnders reaches so many people and a lot of our audience are quite traditional.”

Mr Treadwell-Collins added: “We have to be very, very careful about what we say. With EastEnders you’re preaching to a lot of people who don’t want to hear about LBGT issues.”

Coronation Street introduced trans character Hayley Cropper in 1998, but she was played by cisgender actress Julie Hesmondhalgh.

Hayley Cropper made a dramatic exit from Coronation Street last year, after nearly 16 years on the soap.

Hesmondhalgh’s portrayal of Hayley – including her trip to get gender-reassignment surgery, and her frustration that she had insufficient legal status as a transgender person and so initially couldn’t marry Roy – also helped catalyse a national debate that led to the 2004 Gender Recognition Act, a law that granted transgender people full legal status.