Jill adds her voice to charity gig

Jill Halfpenny is the latest addition to the 3 Bandstand line-up, set to fill The Sage Gateshead with music and laughter next month.

Jill Halfpenny is the latest addition to the 3 Bandstand line-up, set to fill The Sage Gateshead with music and laughter next month.

The former Byker Grove and EastEnders actress, who is now known for her considerable singing and dancing talents too, will join the already stellar ensemble of music and comedy talent who have signed up for the gig which is being held in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Paul Weller, Ross Noble, Jools Holland, Johnny Vegas, Stewart Lee, Ava Vidal and Simon Donald will all be performing in the venue's Hall One on September 16.

"I'm really excited and can't wait for the night," said Jill yesterday, taking a break from filming the second series of the BBC1 school-set drama, Waterloo Road with fellow Geordie actress, Denise Welch.

"We're filming until November, so this will be a nice little break in the middle," she added.

"I love all the musicians and comedians who are taking part and am really looking forward to seeing them all perform. I think it's going to be a special night."

Jill, who began her career as Nicola Dobson in Byker Grove before taking roles in Coronation Street and EastEnders, wowed television audiences back in 2004 with her weekly performances for Strictly Come Dancing on BBC1.

She was crowned the series' dancing queen and went on to win the champion of champions final.

Since then, she has enjoyed storming successes on the stage as Roxie Hart in the West End production of Chicago and back on her home turf in Newcastle Theatre Royal's 2005 pantomime, Cinderella, in which she played the fairy godmother.

Earlier this year, she joined fellow North-Easterners such as Tim Healy, Brian Johnson and Jimmy Nail at The Sage Gateshead for the biennial Sunday For Sammy benefit.

Although she is still ironing out the finer details of what she's going to be doing for 3 Bandstand, Jill does know that her performance will be highlighting her vocal, rather than dancing talents... that is unless a certain Mr Vegas decides to take her for a once around the stage.

"I'll bet he does a mean cha-cha-cha," she laughed, "but I'm just going to be singing on the night - perhaps doing a bit of a duet and then one on my own."

The event is being filmed for a DVD release, with many teenagers who have benefited from the Trust's unit at the RVI lining up as production crew.

* Tickets for 3 Bandstand are on sale now from The Sage Gateshead box office on (0191) 443-4661 or online at www.thesagegateshead.org

* A special supplement filled with interviews and information on the work of the Teenage Cancer Trust in the North-East will be published with The Journal on September 5.

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