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Debra Stephenson (born 4 June 1972) is an English actress, comedian, impressionist and singer, best known for her roles as Diane Powell in Playing the Field, Shell Dockley in Bad Girls and as Frankie Baldwin in Coronation Street.
Stephenson in 2015
|Occupation||Actress, singer, comedian|
|Playing the Field (1998–2000) |
Bad Girls (1999–2003)
Coronation Street (2004–2006)
The Impressions Show (2009–11)
|Spouse(s)||James Duffield (m. 1999)|
|Children||Max (b. 2002)|
Zoe (b. 2007)
Between 2009 and 2011, she co-starred with Jon Culshaw in The Impressions Show, a comedy sketch show with impression of top celebrities. Stephenson has voiced a number of characters for sketch shows such as Dead Ringers (2014–present) and Newzoids (2015–2016). She appeared as Harriet in Holby City in February 2017 and in March 2019, she appeared in the BBC daytime soap, Doctors as Charlotte Hill.
Stephenson's grandfather taught history at Longcroft High School in Beverley in the East Riding of Yorkshire throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Her father taught at Eastfield Primary School, Hull during the 1990s.
At the age of 14, Stephenson appeared on BBC TV's Opportunity Knocks, winning her way through to the All-Winners' Final, broadcast live from the London Palladium. She appeared on Blue Peter doing an impression of Esther Rantzen; she also appeared in other CBBC programmes and was a backing singer on Chris Jarvis's 1997 charity single "Glasses".
In 1995 she sang vocals on musician and writer John Robb project Sensuround.
Stephenson was then on TV screens in 1998 in Kay Mellor's comedy drama about women's football, Playing the Field. Stephenson also appeared in the last two episodes of ITV's adaptation of Catherine Cookson's A Dinner of Herbs, in which she played the adult Kate Roystan, who fell in love with the son of the woman who murdered her grandfather.
In 1999, Stephenson had a more prominent role playing Shell Dockley in the ITV prison drama Bad Girls. Her performance as the psychotic Dockley earned her consecutive nominations for Best Actress at the National Television Awards in 1999 and 2000. After three years playing one of the show's most popular characters, Stephenson left in 2001, the same year she appeared in Lily Savage's Blankety Blank; she returned to Bad Girls for one last time in 2003.
As well as doing stand-up comedy at venues including London's Comedy Store, Stephenson has played several roles as a comic actress on radio and television. These include Hosanna in the BBC Radio 4 comedy At Home with the Snails (2002), and sketch show TV to Go in 2000 with Hugh Dennis and Pauline McLynn. She featured in the 1998 Chucklevision episode "Stop that Stamp" as the Grand Duchess Olga. Stephenson was also part of The Friday Night Project, interviewing the public and going undercover with disguises such as 'Debbo'.
From June 2004 to December 2006, Stephenson starred in British soap opera Coronation Street playing Frankie Baldwin, the wife of Bradley Walsh's character, Danny. She received nominations for "Best Newcomer" at various TV and soap awards shows. On 14 May 2006, producers announced that Stephenson would be leaving the soap at the end of that year. Her final scenes aired on 31 December 2006.
In 2005, Stephenson took part in Comic Relief Does Fame Academy, a singing competition involving celebrities, to raise money for charity, and finished fifth. Among her performances was a rendition of "Cry Me a River" which was called "blemishless" and of Dionne Warwick's "Anyone Who Had a Heart". Her participation on the show led to a recording contract and she released her debut album, In The Sunshine including cover versions of the songs she sang on the show. Stephenson was a reporter for GMTV throughout 2007 as part of The Richard Arnold Show.
Stephenson appeared on Channel Virgin 1's The Prisoner:X in December 2008 where she was locked up for four days in a high security prison in America, where she spent a night in segregation and was treated as though she was an actual prisoner doing time in that prison. Stephenson played the part of Aladdin in the pantomime Aladdin at the Regent Theatre in Ipswich. The pantomime was shown on 13 December 2008 and performed again in January 2009. Because of this role, Stephenson appeared on the Celebrity Ding Dong Christmas special in which the theme was pantomimes and "goodies vs baddies". The goodies (Stephenson's team) won.
The Impressions Show with Culshaw and Stephenson, led by Stephenson and Jon Culshaw, began recording in August 2009. Co-starring as lead regulars are Thomas Nelstrop and newcomer impressionist Jess Robinson. Eight episodes were commissioned by the BBC; the first aired on Saturday 31 October 2009. The show was recommissioned for a second series in 2010 and then again for a third series of six episodes which started on 26 October 2011. As of October 2011, only the first series has currently been released on to DVD.
In March 2010, Stephenson took part in Let's Dance for Sport Relief and reached the final after a rendition of Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal". The judges chose to put her through to the final as she had received some of the highest viewer votes. The final was live on 13 March and she performed the same routine. The winner was Rufus Hound who performed a version of Cheryl Cole's "Fight For This Love". She is also a contestant on the 2011 Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special.
In 2015 she appeared alongside Ray Quinn in ITV's talent show Get Your Act Together. Since 2015, she has voiced a number of characters in the ITV puppet sketch show Newzoids alongside Jon Culshaw. A second series aired in 2016.
Stephenson attended South Hunsley School in Melton, East Riding of Yorkshire, from the age of 11, and during these years she appeared in a number of national TV talent shows doing impressions. In 1996 Stephenson graduated in Drama, from the Manchester Metropolitan School of Theatre. She married builder James Duffield in June 1999. They have two children, Max, born in November 2002 and Zoe born in January 2007.
|Spitting Image||1989||Unnamed role||Episodes 7.1 & 7.2|
|Reckless||1997||Michelle||Miniseries; 5 episodes|
|Cone Zone||1997||Coriander||6 episodes|
|ChuckleVision||1998||Grand Duches Olga||Episode 10.8 - "Stop That Stamp"|
|Midsomer Murders||1998||Kitty Carmichael||Episode 1.4 - "Death of a Hollow Man"|
|People Like Us||1999||Unnamed role||Episode 1.4 - "The Police Officer"|
|Playing the Field||1998–2000||Diane Powell||Seasons 1–3; 16 episodes|
|A Dinner of Herbs||2000||Kate Roystan||Miniseries; 3 episodes|
|Sam's Game||2001||Sarah||Episode 1.1 - "Bed"|
|Dick Whittington||2002||Alice Fitzwarren||Television film|
|Spooks||2002||Claire Osborne||Episode 1.2 - "Looking After Our Own"|
|TV to Go||2002||Various roles||Episode 2.1|
|Bad Girls||1999–2003||Shell Dockley||Series 1–3 - 31 episodes (main role) |
Series 5 - 4 episodes (recurring role)
TV Quick Award for Best Actress (2001)
Nominated: National Television Award for Most Popular Actress (2000)
Nominated: National Television Award for Most Popular Actress (2001)
|Mad About Alice||2004||Kate||6 episodes|
|The Last Detective||2004||Angela Barnwell||Episode 2.4 - "Dangerous and the Lonely Hearts"|
|Where the Heart Is||2004||Charlotte Balderstone||Episode 8.5 - "Little Boy Blue"|
|Coronation Street||2004–06||Frankie Baldwin||235 episodes|
|Comic Relief Does Fame Academy||2005||Contestant|
|Waterloo Road||2011||Naomi Scotcher||4 episodes|
|The Impressions Show with Culshaw and Stephenson||2009–11||Various roles||3 series; 21 episodes|
|Let's Dance for Sport Relief||2010||Contestant|
|Coming Up||2012||Emma Sullivan||Episode 7.5 - "Postcode Lottery"|
|Rocket's Island||2012||Sarah||3 episodes|
|Fanny and Friends||2012||Fanny Cradock|
|My Mad Fat Diary||2014–15||Chloe's Mum||4 episodes|
|Get Your Act Together||2015||Celebrity mentor||2 episodes|
|Newzoids||2015–2016||Various voices||2 series; 12 episodes|
|Coastal Walks with My Dog||2016||Co-presenter||1 episode|
|Zig and Zag||2016||Nellie||26 episodes|
|Young Hyacinth||2016||Dulcie Cooper-Smith||1 episode|
|The Imitation Game||2018—||Herself, impressionist||8 episodes|
- Additional credits
- Lily Savage's Blankety Blank. 6 May 2001. ITV.
- "Stephenson to quit Coronation Street". RTÉ. 15 May 2006. Retrieved 29 May 2009.
- "Su Pollard to star in Strictly Christmas show". BBC News. BBC. 23 November 2011. Retrieved 26 November 2011.
- "ITV to air topical puppet sketch show". 11 February 2015. Retrieved 6 April 2017.
- "Newzoids returns for second series". Retrieved 6 April 2017.
- "Newzoids will return for a second season this year". 8 May 2016. Retrieved 6 April 2017.