Known to many as Nicola from the hit Children’s TV Programme “Byker Grove” (Also starring Ant and Dec). Later – much later, Jill starred in Eastenders as Phil Mitchel’s battered wife Kate Mitchel, before leaving the show and joining others who had wandered into obscurity. Here are some fond memories of Jill. Enjoy.
Date of Birth
15 July 1975, Newcastle, England, UK
5′ 4″ (1.63 m)
Jill Halfpenny was born on 15th July, 1975, in Newcastle, to Maureen and Colin Halfpenny. However, her father passed away when she was very young, and her mother married Jill’s uncle, Derek.
She attended St Edmund Campion RC Comprehensive School, and trained at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art. Although her native accent is Geordie, she can also do many more, from New York to Northern Irish.
Her hobbies include roller-skating, ice-skating, fencing, dancing and she enjoys traveling. She is also friends with her old co-star, Kacey Ainsworth.
Her first major acting role was at the age of 14, where she starred in Byker Grove as Nicola. She is probably best known for her TV role as Rebecca Hopkins in Coronation Street, Kate Mitchell in Eastenders, and, more recently, Izzie Redpath in Waterloo Road. She has also had many minor roles in other well-known TV shows, such as The Catherine Tate Show, The Bill, and Shameless.
In 2004, she participated in the BBC1 show ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ with professional dancer Darren Bennett. They won the competition, and took part in the one off Christmas Special, winning the title ‘Champion Of Champions’. They also made an appearance at the Royal Variety Performance. In December, it was then announced she would play the role of Roxie Hart in Chicago from January 2005.
Other theatre work includes The Bodies, in 2005, where she acted alongside her husband, and pantomimes at the Theatre Royal in 2005 and 2006. She also starred as Julia in a performance of George Orwell’s 1984 in 2002, which is where her and Craig first met. She also starred as Norma Farnes in Surviving Spike, alongside Michael Barrymore, in early 2008, when she was 5-6 months pregnant.
Craig Conway (3 February 2007 – present) 1 child
Although her native accent is Geordie, she can also do Northern Irish and New York accents.
The youngest daughter of Colin and Maureen (née Mitchelson) Halfpenny, her father died in 1979 and her mother subsequently married his brother Derek in 1981.
Trained at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art.
Her hobbies include roller-skating, ice-skating, fencing, dancing and enjoys traveling.
Friends with Kacey Ainsworth.
Met her future husband, Craig Conway, at The Live Theatre, Newcastle, while appearing in the stage production of “The Bodies”.
Aunt of Chelsea Halfpenny.
Gave birth to son Harvey-Reece Conway (3 May 2008).
Is one of 16 “EastEnders” (1985) actors to compete in “Strictly Come Dancing” (2004). The others, in chronological order, are Christopher Parker (Spencer Moon), Patsy Palmer (Bianca Jackson), Louisa Lytton (Ruby Allen), Letitia Dean (Sharon Rickman), Matt Di Angelo (Deano Wicks), Phil Daniels (Kevin Wicks), Gillian Taylforth (Kathy Mitchell), Jessie Wallace (Kat Moon), Zoe Lucker (Vanessa Gold), Ricky Groves (Garry Hobbs), Natalie Cassidy (Sonia Fowler), Jimi Mistry (Fred Fonesca), Scott Maslen (Jack Branning), Kara Tointon (Dawn Swann) and Anita Dobson (Angie Watts). As of 2010 she and Kara Tointon are the only 2 to have won the contest.
Ranked #99 in the 100 Greatest “EastEnders” (1985) Characters of All Time for her performance as Kate Mitchell (2010).
Returned to work 8 months after giving birth to her son Harvey-Reece in order to begin competing in “The Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour”.
Has 2 older sisters; Nicola Halfpenny (b. 1968) and Paula (née Halfpenny) Dunn (b. 1972).
Won the 2011 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical for “Legally Blonde”.
Where Are They Now
(December 2009) Currently appearing as Paulette in the original West End production of Legally Blonde the Musical.