Jill Halfpenny

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Jill Halfpenny
Born (1975-07-15) 15 July 1975 (age 43)
Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, England, UK
Occupation Actress
Years active 1989–present
Spouse(s) Craig Conway (2007-10; divorced)
Children 1

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 (1999–2000); Kate Mitchell (née Morton) in rival soap EastEnders (2002–05); Izzie Redpath in Waterloo Road (2006–07); and Diane Manning in In The Club (2014–16). She also won the second series of the television dance contest Strictly Come Dancing in 2004.

Her career began in 1989 with a regular role in the BBC children's drama series Byker Grove. She has subsequently appeared in numerous TV roles, such as Peak Practice, Mount Pleasant, Wild at Heart, Lightfields, Babylon, Humans, Three Girls, and Liar.

She has also enjoyed a successful theatre career, with roles ranging from pantomime to the West End, in productions such as Uncle Vanya, Calendar Girls, Abigail's Party, 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 portrayal of Paulette in Legally Blonde.

Early life[edit]

She was born to Maureen (née Mitchelson) and Colin Halfpenny, and has two elder sisters, Nicola and Paula; the latter is the mother of actress Chelsea Halfpenny, Jill's niece. Colin Halfpenny died in 1979, when Halfpenny was only four.[citation needed]

A native of Leam Lane, Gateshead, she attended St Edmund Campion Roman Catholic School there. She is a former student of the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art (1994–96) and she also went to drama school First Act Theatre in Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne and to the Reavley Theatre School in Felling, Gateshead, despite claiming on Strictly Come Dancing that she had received no previous training.


She began her acting career at age 14 in the BBC television children's drama series Byker Grove,[1] filmed 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.[citation needed]

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.[2] 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

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.[3] 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. She narrated 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.[citation needed]

From the beginning of February 2008,[4] a pregnant Halfpenny played Spike Milligan's long-suffering manager, Norma Farnes, alongside Michael Barrymore in Surviving Spike at the Theatre Royal, Windsor. Halfpenny starred in the West End production of Calendar Girls from 28 July to 31 October 2009[5] and then played the part of Paulette Bonafonté in the West End company of Legally Blonde, which opened January 2010 with previews beginning December 2009.[6] She played the part until late October 2010 and she was succeeded by Denise van Outen. For this role Halfpenny won the whatsonstage.com Theatregoers' Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical[7][8] and won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical.[9]

Halfpenny made a guest appearance in the Canadian series, Murdoch Mysteries, in episode one of the fifth series, first broadcast[10] in 2012.[11]

In March 2012 she starred in a revival of Mike Leigh's 1977 play Abigail's Party at the Menier Chocolate Factory in London.[12] 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.[13] In 2014 she starred in BBC drama In the Club, which returned for a second series in 2016, and Channel 4's Babylon.

In September 2014, along with Tim Healy, Halfpenny narrated the history of the North East of England as part of the ceremony for the Great North Run.[14]In 2015 she starred in Way Upstream by Alan Ayckbourn at Chichester Festival Theatre. In the same year, she starred in the first series of Humans.[15]

Since 2017, she has been a radio broadcaster for BBC Radio 2,[16] working alongside Sara Cox.[17] in 2018, It was also reported that she broadcast a mental show on Bank Holiday Monday and covered the Good Morning Sunday show for August.[18]

In 2018, she was cast to perform in The Girl on the Train stage adaptation in Leeds, which premiered at West Yorkshire Playhouse in May.[19]

Personal life[edit]

Halfpenny married fellow actor Craig Conway in 2007; together they have one child.[20] The couple divorced in 2010.[12]

She is an ambassador for leading children's charity Kidscape.[21] and in 2013 was awarded "Freeman of the Borough of Gateshead".[22]



Year Title Role Notes
2000 Command Approved Chopper pilot
2011 How to Stop Being a Loser Christina
2013 Turn Your Bloody Phone Off: The Second Batch Mummy Short film
Segment: "Shush Mummy"
2016 Maisie Louise Short film
2017 Ghost Stories Peggy Van Rhys
2018 Walk Like a Panther Lara Anderson


Year Title Role Notes
1989-1992 Byker Grove Nicola Dobson Recurring role
1997 The Bill Lisa Collett "Man Trap"
1997 Birds of a Feather Brittany "Rising Damp"
1997 The Lakes Tina "1.1"
1998 The Round Tower Rosie Cotton TV film
1998 Heartbeat Mitzi Wyler "Local Knowledge"
1998 Touching Evil Annie Jordan "What Price a Child: Parts 1 & 2"
1999 Dangerfield Shelley "Tying the Knot"
1999 Peak Practice Kelly Recurring role
1999-2000 Coronation Street Rebecca Hopkins Regular role
2001 Dalziel and Pascoe Tara Connolly "Home Truths"
2002 Breeze Block TV series
2002-05 EastEnders Kate Mitchell Regular role
2003 Barbara Kirsty "Kirsty"
2005 The Catherine Tate Show Gina "Dog Obedience"
2006 Shameless Roxy Benson "3.5"
2006-07 Waterloo Road Izzie Redpath Regular role
2007 Blue Murder Jackie Holroyd "Crisis Management"
2009 Inspector George Gently Cora Davidson "Gently with the Innocents"
2011 Mount Pleasant Emma "1.5", "1.6", "1.7"
2011 Walk Like a Panther Lara Anderson "1.1"
2012 Murdoch Mysteries Elizabeth Bryant "Murdoch of the Klondike"
2012 Wild at Heart Fiona "7.8", "7.9", "7.10"
2013 Lightfields Martha Felwood TV miniseries
2013 Vera Maggie Warnock "Prodigal Son"
2014 Babylon Davina TV miniseries
2014 Beautality Pam St. Clair TV film
2014–present In the Club Diane Manning Main role
2015 Humans Jill Drummond Main role
2016 Death in Paradise Naomi Walker "5.7"
2016 Ordinary Lies Belinda Brierly Supporting cast
2017 Liar Jennifer Episodes: "Catherine", "The Marshes"


  1. ^ "Jill Halfpenny: the life and soul of Abigail's Party". Telegraph. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 
  2. ^ "Strictly Come Dancing - Jill Halfpenny - BBC One". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 18 January 2017. 
  3. ^ Parker, Robin. "Corrie cleans up at TV Quick awards". Broadcastnow.co.uk. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  4. ^ Street-Howe, Zoe (8 February 2008). "Jill Halfpenny is pregnant!". The Sun. London. Retrieved 25 May 2008. 
  5. ^ Celebrities (21 July 2009). "Jerry and June shed their clothes and join fellow Calendar Girls for cheeky snap". Hello!. Retrieved 2 May 2012. 
  6. ^ "Davison & Halfpenny Go Blonde with Final Casting". Whatsonstage.com. Retrieved 2 May 2012. 
  7. ^ Full List: 2011 Whatsonstage.com Award Winners, whatsonstage.com, 20 February 2011. Archived 4 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ "La Boheme and Legally Blonde win at Olivier Awards". The Stage. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  9. ^ "Legally Blonde, Into the Woods, Clybourne Park, After the Dance Among Olivier Award Winners in London". Playbill. 13 March 2011. Archived from the original on 20 October 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2012. 
  10. ^ Murdoch Mysteries profile, imdb.com; accessed 18 January 2017.
  11. ^ "Citytv killing Murdoch Mysteries after upcoming season". The Globe and Mail. Canada. 28 September 2011. Retrieved 16 November 2011. 
  12. ^ a b Theatre Features. "Jill Halfpenny: the life and soul of Abigail's Party". Telegraph. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  13. ^ "Abigail's Party to transfer to Wyndham's Theatre". BBC News. 23 April 2012. 
  14. ^ Dalby, Helen (5 September 2014). "29 stunning pictures from the Great North Run Million opening ceremony - Chronicle Live". Evening Chronicle. Retrieved 7 September 2014. 
  15. ^ "Jill Drummond - Humans | TVmaze". www.tvmaze.com. Retrieved 2018-08-27. 
  16. ^ "BBC - BBC Radio 2 music highlights for Summer 2017 - Media Centre". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2018-08-28. 
  17. ^ "Jill Halfpenny sits in, Sara Cox - BBC Radio 2". BBC. Retrieved 2018-08-28. 
  18. ^ "Sixty Seconds with Jill Halfpenny". Metro Newspaper UK. Retrieved 2018-08-28. 
  19. ^ Hyde, Nathan (2018-04-06). "Jill Halfpenny to star in The Girl on the Train stage adaptation in Leeds". leedslive. Retrieved 2018-08-28. 
  20. ^ 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, UK. 
  21. ^ [1] Archived 24 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  22. ^ "North-East actress Jill Halfpenny presented with Freedom of Borough of Gateshead". Thenorthernecho.co.uk. 7 November 2013. Retrieved 10 December 2013. 

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