Monday, 21 May 2012

First impressions: Jill Halfpenny

‘Do I believe in aliens? No, just ghosts…’

Actress JILL HALFPENNY is best known for her TV roles, including Rebecca Hopkins in Coronation Street and Kate Mitchell in EastEnders, as well as appearing in Wild At Heart and Waterloo Road. She is an ambassador for the children’s charity, Kidscape.

What are you working on at the moment?

Abigail’s Party. It’s really good fun – really challenging.

When were you at your happiest?

I think when I was doing Byker Grove when I was a child. The possibilities seemed endless. Every day was like a huge adventure.

What is your greatest fear?

Living an unfulfilled life and getting to the end and thinking: ‘I didn’t make the most of that’.

What is your earliest memory?

Playing on my tricycle when I was tiny and falling down a little gutter.

Who has been your greatest influence?

It’s been a mixture of lots of people. I’m lucky to have very close family and friends and they’ve just been there for me when I’ve needed them. They’ve given me very sound advice, so it’s been a good support network really.

What do you most dislike about yourself?

I’m very, very, very impatient.

What trait do you most deplore in other people?


What is your most treasured possession?

It sounds weird but I have a couple of things that belonged to my dad; he’s not around any more. One of them is a metal pin that he had in his elbow when he broke his arm. If I hold it I feel like I’m with him.

Do you have a fantasy address?

I absolutely love the sound of water and I love looking out on to water. I don’t know if my ideal location exists, but I want to be near the sea and equally near to a city. I guess in a way that’s what Newcastle is like...

What do you most dislike about your appearance?

Just one? I wish I were taller, with longer limbs. I’m only five foot three. Everybody says when they meet me, ‘Oh, you’re really short’.

What is your favourite book?

One of them is Underneath The Lemon Tree, about depression. I think it’s a touching book that really tries to get into the mind of someone who is feeling like that, without being judgmental at all.


What is your favourite film?

I always go back to Chocolat because it’s so evocative and beautiful.

Your favourite record or piece of music?

The voice I listened to through my whole childhood was Karen Carpenter, so any time a Carpenters song comes on it’s profound for me. Rainy Days And Mondays is a particular favourite.

Your favourite meal?

Anything with rice. I’m really into Thai. All this Asian fusion-type food – that’s me all the way. Give me a bit of grilled or skewered meat with rice and some sauces on the side, and that’s me to a T.

Who would you most like to come to dinner?

At the minute it would be [one of the judges on BBC’s The Voice]. I’ve got an amazing crush on him. 

Which historical character do you most admire?

So many people have done amazing work. Rather than people it’s always qualities. I really admire people who have the courage to do something about their beliefs.

What is the nastiest thing anyone has ever said to you?

Somebody told me that I’m not capable of being loved. But when things likethat are said to you, you have to remember that people are saying it out of hurt and pain. Of course I’m capable of being loved and loving, but it’s still hard to hear that.

Do you believe in aliens?

Ghosts? Yes. But aliens? No.

What is your secret vice?

I’ll eat a tiny salad just so I can eat a Mars bar.

Do you write thank-you notes?

As a rule, no I don’t. But I received one last week and it was so sweet and lovely I thought I should start doing that. My family didn’t do anything formal like that. Thank-you notes are things I became aware of when I moved to London.

Which phrase do you most over-use?

‘Do you know what I mean?’

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?

To become more patient.

What would you like your epitaph to say?

She was loved by all the people who mattered to her.

Abigail’s Party is at Wyndham’s Theatre, London WC2 until 1 September. To book, call 0844-482512.

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