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Jenny's parents divorced when she was two years old. Jenny attended St Aidan’s Primary School in Winstanley before attending St Edmund Arrowsmith School in Ashton in Makerfield. At the age of 18 she went to Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama, Sidcup, Kent where she trained to be an actress from 1996-1999.
Her first TV role was in a German advertisement for cleaning powder. Shortly afterwards she won the role of Geena Gregory in Coronation Street which she played from 2000-2002. After learning she was to be written out of her role as barmaid Geena, she brought out a fitness video entitled Get Fit Quick with Jennifer James with Suzanne Cox. She auditioned and won the role of Joyce in The Second Quest, directed by David Jason, for Yorkshire Television in 2003.
Since May 2005 she has been playing WPC (later Detective Constable) Kim “Posh” Spicer in Dalziel and Pascoe.
It was during her time on Coronation Street that she met the actor Lee Boardman who played drug dealer Jez Quigley. They married at Manchester Town Hall on 12 May 2001. During the filming of The Second Quest she found that she was expecting and her son Jack who was born in March 2004. Jenny had a difficult labour and decided to take a short break from acting to spend time with her baby. On his Twitter page Lee Boardman announced on Tuesday 24 November that Jennifer is 5 months pregnant with their second child due in May 2010. Jennifer gave birth to their second child, a baby girl called Scarlett in April 2010.
On 23 April 2006, Jenny completed the London Marathon, for Barnardo’s and said that becoming a mum herself encouraged her to run. “Being a mum is the best thing in the world, having Jack has encouraged me to run the marathon for Barnardos. I run round the local park every day and would never imagine that I’d say I loved running!”
Jenny and Lee live in Cheshire, England. They are both patrons of a charity called CAFT( Children's Adventure Farm Trust) which is a charity that provides holidays for sick, disabled, disadvantaged and terminally ill children.