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Gillian Louise Kearney[1] (born 9 May 1972 in Liverpool) is an English actress best known for her early role as Debbie McGrath in Channel 4's Liverpool-based soap opera Brookside and the spin-off mini-series Damon and Debbie, and for playing Jessica Harrison in the long-running BBC television medical drama series Casualty, as well as Emma Barton in the ITV Yorkshire-based soap opera Emmerdale. The role of Emma Barton gained her a lot of recognition due to her being involved in Emmerdale’s most high profile storylines during her three year stint.

Gillian Kearney
Born
Gillian Louise Kearney

(1972-05-09) 9 May 1972 (age 47)
Liverpool, England[1]
OccupationActress
Years active1986–present
TelevisionBrookside/Damon and Debbie (1986–1989)
Shameless (2005–2007)
Casualty (2008–2010)
Emmerdale (2015–2017)
Partner(s)Eddie Foo
Children1

Contents

Early lifeEdit

One of four children born to Gerard and Barbara (née Allerston) Kearney, Gillian Kearney has three brothers, including Tom, a professional footballer. Her father is a retired civil engineer, and her mother a school care worker.[citation needed] Growing up in Aigburth, she attended St. John Almond RC High School, Garston,[2] where she gained nine GCSEs and four A-levels. She later trained at the Rose Bruford College.

CareerEdit

Her interest in acting began at secondary school. After repeatedly being overlooked for the lead roles in school productions, she decided to join the Liverpool Playhouse Youth Theatre, where she featured in plays including All Flesh is Grass (as Ema),[3] Katie Crackernuts and Yer Dancin'? It was there, in 1986, that she was spotted by members of the Mersey Television production team; this resulted in her being asked to audition for a role in Channel 4's Liverpool-set drama series Brookside. Kearney landed the role of Debbie McGrath, the girlfriend of Damon Grant, played by Simon O'Brien. When O'Brien decided to leave Brookside, he requested that his character be killed off so he wouldn't be tempted to return to the show. Because Damon was so popular, particularly with younger viewers, it was decided to create a "soap bubble" in which the character would meet his demise: the result, Damon and Debbie, became Britain's first mini-series spin-off from a soap opera.[4][5] A year after filming her final scenes, Kearney was asked to return for a few episodes. Christmas 1988 saw Debbie McGrath make an unexpected return to visit Sheila Grant, Damon's mother; she arrived with her baby, Simon – Damon's son.

Kearney played the young Shirley in the award-winning 1989 film Shirley Valentine.

She also had the lead female part as Ellie Brookes in Sex, Chips & Rock n' Roll a six-part television mini-series which was written and created by Debbie Horsfield and directed by John Woods. It was produced by Wall to Wall for BBC One originally airing in 1999 before being adapted into a successful stage musical.

In 2002, Kearney landed the role of June Forsyte in the ITV1 adaptation of John Galsworthy's classic novel The Forsyte Saga. She later reprised the role for the second series. Following the success of The Forsyte Saga, Kearney's next role brought her back onto the ITV screen in its newest medical drama, Sweet Medicine. Kearney was cast as Dr Deborah "Deb" Sweet, and starred alongside Jason Merrells, who played her husband, and Patricia Hodge as her formidable mother-in-law. The show was intended to take up the mantle of the popular rural drama Peak Practice, which had recently ended, but low viewing figures saw Sweet Medicine axed after just one series.

In 2005, Kearney landed a role in Channel 4's hit series Shameless, playing the role of Marty Fisher's (Jack Deam) girlfriend, Sue Garland. She left the show along with her on-screen partner in 2007.[6] She had a number of television roles following her departure before landing the role of Jessica Harrison in Casualty, in January 2008. Kearney left Casualty in February 2010, but returned briefly to tie up the loose ends of her character's storyline in May 2010.

As of 2 January 2015, Kearney began appearing in the ITV soap opera Emmerdale, in the role of Emma Barton, the estranged wife of James Barton (Bill Ward) and mother of their three sons Pete (Anthony Quinlan), Ross (Michael Parr) and Finn (Joe Gill). Kearney has received critical acclaim for her performance,[7] particularly when it came to the "No Return" week which saw the character hold James hostage and cause a huge crash that endangered the lives of seven Emmerdale residents; after Emma accidentally pushed James off the bridge, he later died. Kearney was nominated for Best Serial Drama Performance at the 2016 National Television Awards. In 2019 Kearney directed the 5Star woman's prison drama Clink.

Personal lifeEdit

Kearney lived in Crouch End, North London, from July 2000,[8] and then rented a property in Clifton, Bristol, during her time appearing in Casualty.[9] She returned to live in Liverpool after the birth of her son; she also has a rented home in Yorkshire where she films Emmerdale, and a holiday home on the Atlantic coast of County Clare, Ireland.[10]

In April 2009 Kearney mentioned, during a This Morning television interview, that she was seeing a final-year medical student called Eddie, whom she had met whilst in Bristol.[9] Early in 2010, Kearney announced her engagement to Eddie Foo and their intention to marry later that year in Ireland,[11] but the plans were soon put on hold when she discovered that she was expecting their first child. Kearney gave birth to an 8 lb 3 oz (3.7 kg) baby boy on 26 August 2010.[12]

CreditsEdit

FilmEdit

Year Title Role Notes
1989
Shirley Valentine Young Shirley
2003
Homecoming Dushuri Short
2006
The Other Half Holly Lamanuzzi
2006
The Lives of Saints Christella
2006
London to Brighton Kelly's next door neighbour uncredited
2013
Harrigan Bridie Wheland
2013
Breakthrough Judith Short
2014
Sealed with a Kiss Ginny Short

TelevisionEdit

Year Title Role Network Notes
1986–1987
Brookside Debbie McGrath
Channel 4
Regular role
1987
Damon and Debbie Debbie McGrath
Channel 4
5 episodes, Mini Series
1990
The Final Frame Cassy
Kinesis Films for Channel 4
TV Movie
1991
Waterfront Beat Helen
BBC One
6 episodes
1991
Casualty Mandy
BBC1
1 episode
1995
Men of the World Jenny
BBC One
1 episode
1996
The Tide of Life Emily Kennedy
ITV
Mini Series
1996
Heartbeat Susan Watkins
ITV
1 episode
1997
The Ruby Ring Elizabeth Langley
Showtime
TV Movie
1998
Hetty Wainthropp Investigates Debra Woolmer
BBC One
1 episode
1998
Liverpool 1 Julie Callaghan
BBC One
5 episodes
1998
The Things You Do for Love Young Joan TV Movie
1999
Sex, Chips & Rock n' Roll Ellie Brookes
BBC One
Mini Series
2000
Black Cab Phil
BBC Two
1 episode
2000
Hope and Glory Kitty Burton
BBC One
10 episodes
2000
In His Life: The John Lennon Story Cynthia Lennon
NBC
TV Movie
2001
Murder in Mind Catrin Palmer
BBC One
1 episode
2001
Midsomer Murders WPC Jay Nash
ITV
1 episode
2001–2002
Clocking Off Lynne Watson
BBC One
2 episodes
2002
The Real Jane Austen Jane Austen
BBC Two
TV Documentary
2002–2003
The Forsyte Saga June Forsyte
ITV
Mini Series
2003
Blue Murder Lesley Tulley
ITV
2 episodes
2003
Sweet Medicine Dr. Deborah Sweet
ITV
2005
Where the Heart Is Maria
ITV
1 episode
2005–2007
Shameless Sue Garland
Channel 4
12 episodes
2007
Trial & Retribution Gina Casper
ITV
1 episode
2007
Lilies Miss Bird
BBC One
1 episode
2008
Primeval Valerie Irwin
ITV
1 episode
2008–2010
Casualty Jessica Harrison
BBC One
93 episodes
2011
Justice Louise Scanlon
BBC One
2012
Silent Witness DI Bridges
BBC One
2 episodes
2013
Moving On Danielle
BBC One
1 episode
2014
Suspects Tamsin Shaffer
Channel 5
4 episodes
2015–2017
Emmerdale [13] Emma Barton
ITV
Regular role

TheatreEdit

RadioEdit

Year Title Role Station
Sex, Latte, Paperclips [13] Michelle BBC
2013
Boots on the Ground [21] Dr Callard BBC Radio 4
2014
Brief Lives [22] DC Archer BBC Radio 4
2014
Bring Her Back [23] Dr. Moira Leigh BBC Northern Ireland

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Birth Registration Details Ancestry.co.uk (Retrieved 16 July 2009)
  2. ^ "Saint Benedict's College history". Archived from the original on 11 February 2010. Retrieved 8 May 2009.
  3. ^ Jones, Catherine; "We've got talent! £25m Culture project launched", LiverpoolEcho.co.uk, 23 September 2008. Retrieved 16 July 2009
  4. ^ Plunkett, Jon; "Brookside: the highs and lows" Guardian.co.uk, 10 October 2002. Retrieved 16 July 2009
  5. ^ Williams, Steve; Jones, Ian; Kibble-White, Jack; "Channel 4 at 25: 1987" Archived 8 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine OffTheTelly.co.uk, November 2002. Retrieved 16 July 2009
  6. ^ "Gillian Kearney as Sue" RadioTimes.com, January 2006. Retrieved 16 July 2009
  7. ^ Metro.co.uk, Duncan Lindsay for (19 October 2016). "Emmerdale: Why Emma Barton is one of the all time best soap villains". Metro. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
  8. ^ Leask, Annie; "Interview — Gillian Kearney: Mum's desperate for me to find a good man" Sunday Mirror, 22 April 2002. Retrieved 16 July 2009
  9. ^ a b This Morning television interview with Phillip Schofield and Fern Britton on 16 April 2009.
  10. ^ Francis, Pam (15 February 2015). "Emmerdale's Gillian Kearney: 'My greatest weakness is chocolate'". Express.co.uk. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
  11. ^ Wise, Jon; "DOCTOR WOO!" People.co.uk, 10 January 2010. Retrieved 16 February 2010
  12. ^ Miles, Tina; "Casualty star Gillian Kearney on becoming a mum and her recent Clapperboard role at Liverpool's FACT" The Liverpool Echo, 25 September 2010
  13. ^ a b "Gillian Kearney". United Agents. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  14. ^ "Macbeth". Everyman Theatre. Retrieved 12 June 2011.
  15. ^ "Traverse Theatre Company: Strangers, Babies" Traverse.co.uk (Retrieved 16 July 2009)
  16. ^ Fisher, Mark; "Theatre; Strangers, Babies" Guardian.co.uk, 2 March 2007. Retrieved 16 July 2009
  17. ^ a b Butler, Billy; "Gillian Kearney Interview" BBC.co.uk (Radio Merseyside), 5 April 2006. Retrieved 16 July 2009
  18. ^ Underwood, Mitya (25 October 2004). "My Play's a Winner". The Free Library. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
  19. ^ Billington, Michael (24 March 2001). "Dawn French's mildly funny Bottom". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
  20. ^ "Courtenay Stars in Manchester King Lear". What's On Stage. 31 August 1999. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
  21. ^ "Boots on the Ground". BBC. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  22. ^ "Episode 4 Brief Lives". BBC. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  23. ^ "Bring Her Back by Andy Walker". BBC. Retrieved 24 November 2014.

External linksEdit