Jill Halfpenny

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Jill Halfpenny
Born Jill Halfpenny
(1975-07-15) 15 July 1975 (age 39)
Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, England
Occupation Actress
Years active 1989–present
Spouse(s) Craig Conway (m. 2007–10) (divorced)
Children Harvey-Rhys Halfpenny
Awards TV Quick Award – Best Actress
2007 Waterloo Road – Izzie Redpath

Jill Halfpenny (born 15 July 1975) is an English actress, best known for her roles as Rebecca Hopkins in the British soap opera Coronation Street from 1999–2000; as Kate Mitchell (née Morton) in rival soap EastEnders, from 2002–2005, and as the winner of the second series of Strictly Come Dancing.

Her career began in 1989 with a regular role in the BBC children's drama serial Byker Grove. She has subsequently appeared in numerous television roles including Wild at Heart, Peak Practice and Waterloo Road, for which she won a Best Actress prize at the TV Quick Awards.

Halfpenny also enjoys a successful theatre career with roles ranging from pantomime to high profile West End productions such as Abigail's Party, Calendar Girls and musicals like Chicago. In 2011 she won the Theatregoers' Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical and the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical for her performance in Legally Blonde.

She is the aunt of ex-Emmerdale actress Chelsea Halfpenny.

Early life[edit]

A native of Leam Lane, Gateshead, she attended St Edmund Campion RC school (now Cardinal Hume RC School) in Wrekenton. She is a former student of the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art (1994–1996) and she also went to drama school First Act Theatre in Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne and to the Reavley Dance School in Felling, Gateshead, despite claiming on Strictly Come Dancing that she had received no previous training.

Career[edit]

She began her acting career in the BBC television children's drama series Byker Grove, set in the Benwell area of Newcastle upon Tyne. Her other work has included appearances in Dalziel and Pascoe, Barbara and Coronation Street for television and theatre with the acclaimed Hull Truck Theatre Company.

She took the major role of Kate Mitchell in the BBC One soap opera EastEnders in 2002. The character was introduced as a police officer sent to spy on Phil Mitchell, but after her cover was blown she quit the police force, married Phil and opened a nail salon. Her final scenes were broadcast in January 2005 after her character was axed.

In 2004, Halfpenny participated in the BBC One pro-celebrity ballroom dancing competition Strictly Come Dancing, dancing with professional Darren Bennett. The couple won the competition after receiving the full 40 marks from the judges in the final. On 14 December 2004, Halfpenny and Darren Bennett made an appearance on stage at the Royal Variety Performance which took place at the London Coliseum. In a special one-off Christmas programme which pitted the Strictly Come Dancing champions (and other top performing couples) from series one and two against each other, Jill and Darren were crowned as Champion of Champions. In December, it was announced that she would take the role of Roxie Hart in the West End musical, Chicago, starting in January 2005.

In 2005, Halfpenny appeared in The Bodies, a new play adapted from an Émile Zola novel by Peter Flannery at the Live Theatre, Newcastle, opposite her real-life husband, actor Craig Conway. In 2005 and 2006, Halfpenny appeared in hit pantomimes at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle.

Halfpenny was the guest presenter for and performed in the first show of the BBC four-part series The Sound of Musicals in January 2006 and played Roxy Ball in Shameless in an episode broadcast on 31 January 2006. In 2006, Halfpenny made a guest appearance in an episode of The Catherine Tate Show.

From spring 2006, Halfpenny appeared in the BBC One series Waterloo Road as teacher Izzie Redpath, a role for which she won the TV Quick Award for Best Actress.[1] The character was killed off at the end of the second series. In 2007 Halfpenny appeared as the narrator of Freaky Eaters for BBC Three and Fat Man's Warning for Channel 4. Jill was also the narrator for a short film advertising how the National Lottery helps the North East, created by students at the Lord Lawson of Beamish School as part of a competition. The film they created won the competition.

Halfpenny was invited to University of Sunderland where she presented the awards evening for Seaham School of Technology in November 2007.

From the beginning of February 2008,[2] a pregnant Halfpenny played Spike Milligan's long-suffering manager, Norma Farnes, alongside Michael Barrymore in Surviving Spike at the Theatre Royal, Windsor.

It was announced in mid-October 2008 that Halfpenny will be taking part in the 2009 live Strictly Come Dancing tour with her professional partner Darren Bennett. On Christmas Day 2008, she appeared in a Christmas special of Strictly Come Dancing and won (with Kelly Brook in second place). She also appeared as a special guest dancer on the episode which aired live from the Tower Ballroom, Blackpool on 7 November 2009.

Halfpenny starred in the West End production of Calendar Girls from 28 July to 31 October 2009[3] and recently played the part of Paulette Bonafonté in the West End company of Legally Blonde, which opened January 2010 with previews beginning December 2009.[4] She played the part until late October 2010 and she was subsequently replaced by Denise van Outen. For this role Halfpenny won the whatsonstage.com Theatregoers' Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical[5][6] and also won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical.[7]

She will make a guest appearance in the Canadian series, Murdoch Mysteries, during the series' fifth season, scheduled to air in 2012.[8]

In March 2012 she starred in a revival of Mike Leigh's 1977 play Abigail's Party at the Menier Chocolate Factory in London.[9] In April the show played at the Theatre Royal, Bath before transferring to the West End at the Wyndham's Theatre where it ran from May to September.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Halfpenny married fellow actor Craig Conway in 2007. Together they had one son, Harvey-Rhys Halfpenny born 3 May 2008.[11] The couple divorced in 2010.[9]

She is an ambassador for leading children's charity Kidscape.[12] and in 2013 was awarded "Freeman of the Borough of Gateshead".[13]

Filmography[edit]

Films[edit]

Year Film Role
2011 How to Stop Being a Loser Suzy
2000 Command Approved Chopper pilot

TV[edit]

Year Show Role Notes
1989–1992 Byker Grove Nicola Dobson Series regular
1997 The Bill Lisa Collett 1 episode: Man Trap
Birds of a Feather Brittany 1 episode: Rising Damp
The Lakes Tina 1 episode: 1.1
1998 The Round Tower Rosie Cotton
Heartbeat Mitzi Wyler 1 episode: Local Knowledge
Touching Evil II Annie Jordan
1999 Dangerfield Shelley 1 episode: Tying the Knot
Peak Practice Kelly Recurring; 7 episodes
1999–2000 Coronation Street Rebecca Hopkins Series regular
2001 Dalziel and Pascoe Tara Connolly 1 episode: Home Truths
2002 Breeze Block Various characters 6 part series
2002–2005 EastEnders Kate Mitchell Series regular
2003 Barbara Kirsty 1 episode: Kirsty
2004 Strictly Come Dancing Herself Winner, Series 2
2005 The Catherine Tate Show Gina 1 episode: 2.2
2005 Shameless Roxy Ball 1 episode: 3.5
2006–2007 Waterloo Road Izzie Redpath Series regular
2007 Blue Murder Jackie Holroyd 1 episode: Crisis Management
Freaky Eaters Narrator Series 1
2009 Inspector George Gently Cora Davidson 1 episode: Gently with the Innocents
2010 Sainsbury's Adverts Voice Over
2011 Mount Pleasant Emma Guest; 3 episodes
2012 Wild at Heart Fiona Lynch
Murdoch Mysteries[8] Elizabeth Bryant 1 episode
2013 Vera Maggie 1 episode
2014 In the Club Diane
2014 Babylon Davina 1 episode

References[edit]

  1. ^ Parker, Robin (2007-09-04). "Corrie cleans up at TV Quick awards". Broadcastnow.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-09-07. 
  2. ^ Street-Howe, Zoe (8 February 2008). "Jill Halfpenny is pregnant!". The Sun (London). Retrieved 25 May 2008. 
  3. ^ Celebrities (21 July 2009). "Jerry and June shed their clothes and join fellow Calendar Girls for cheeky snap". hello!. Retrieved 2 May 2012. 
  4. ^ "Davison & Halfpenny Go Blonde with Final Casting – - News". Whatsonstage.com. Retrieved 2 May 2012. 
  5. ^ Full List: 2011 Whatsonstage.com Award Winners whatsonstage.com, 20 February 2011[dead link]
  6. ^ By: (2011-03-31). "La Boheme and Legally Blonde win at Olivier Awards - News". The Stage. Retrieved 2013-09-07. 
  7. ^ "Legally Blonde, Into the Woods, Clybourne Park, After the Dance Among Olivier Award Winners in London". Playbill. 13 March 2011. Retrieved 2 May 2012. 
  8. ^ a b "Citytv killing ‘Murdoch Mysteries’ after upcoming season". The Globe and Mail (Canada). 28 September 2011. Retrieved 16 November 2011. 
  9. ^ a b Theatre Features (2012-02-22). "Jill Halfpenny: the life and soul of Abigail’s Party". Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-09-07. 
  10. ^ "Abigail's Party to transfer to Wyndham's Theatre". BBC News. 23 April 2012. 
  11. ^ McGrath, Nick (26 November 2010). "Jill Halfpenny: I'm only 5ft 2in, with boobs and hips, so ­Fifties-style clothes suit me". Daily Mail (London). 
  12. ^ [1][dead link]
  13. ^ "North-East actress Jill Halfpenny presented with Freedom of Borough of Gateshead". Thenorthernecho.co.uk. 2013-11-07. Retrieved 2013-12-10. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Natasha Kaplinsky and Brendan Cole
Strictly Come Dancing Champion
(with partner Darren Bennett)

Series 2 (Autumn 2004)
Succeeded by
Darren Gough and Lilia Kopylova