Jill Halfpenny age, career, role in Dark Money and who was she in EastEnders?

Actress Jill Halfpenny is returning to screens on Monday night in BBC One drama Dark Money – which taps into the topical theme of sexual abuse in the film industry.

The gripping series sees her playing Sam Mensah, whose teenage son Isaac (Max Fincham) lands a part in a sci-fi blockbuster in Hollywood, only for her and his dad Manny (Babou Ceesay) to learn that he was sexually abused by the film’s producer.

Expect some pretty disturbing stuff to follow as the family work out how to handle the horrific situation they’ve found themselves in – and some strong performances also.

It’s the latest screen role for Halfpenny, who is best known to many viewers from her Noughties stint in EastEnders, but she’s been no stranger to the screen since.

Here’s what you need to know about Jill.

How old is Jill Halfpenny and how did her career start?

Jill, 45, was born on 15 July 1957 in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear.

She began her acting career aged 14 alongside Ant and Dec in Byker Grove, before going on to appear in The Bill, Birds Of A Feather, Heartbeat, Dangerfield and Peak Practice, among others.

She also spent a year in Coronation Street from 1999-2000 as Rebecca Hopkins, a casualty nurse at Weatherfield General who had a brief fling with Martin Platt.

Who did she play in EastEnders?

Jill played the role of Kate Morton – later Kate Mitchell – in the soap from 2002-2005.

The character joined the show as an undercover police officer – using the surname Tyler – to try and trick Phil into confessing that he murdered Lisa (Lucy Benjamin).

However the sting went wrong when she fell in love with him – leading to her being fired from the force.

She subsequently married Phil and opened up a nail salon in Walford – but the marriage was very short-lived after Phil was framed by Den Watts and arrested for assault and attempted robbery.

Kate later became friends with Den’s wife Chrissie Watts (Tracy-Ann Oberman) and gave her a hairdressing job at her salon – but the friendship was rocked after Kate had an affair with Den, leading Chrissie to take revenge.

She eventually left after being offered her old job in the police back – and moving away to Brighton.

The soap’s then executive producer Kathleen Hutchison said at the time of Kate’s departure that ‘the door will be left open for her to return’.

What else has Jill Halfpenny been in?

Her more recent work has included Waterloo Road as Izzie Redpath, parenting drama In The Club, Channel 4’s sci-fi drama Humans, and the hit BBC series Ordinary Lies.

She also has the honour of being a former Strictly glitterball winner, having won the second series in 2004 -scoring the show’s first ever perfect 40 for her jive with Darren Bennett.

Acting also runs in her family, as she’s the aunt of actrress Chelsea Halfpenny, known for her roles as Amy Wyatt in Emmerdale and as Casualty’s Alicia Munroe.

Dark Money kicks off on BBC One on Monday night at 9pm.

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