Jill Halfpenny is delighted to learn that her former Byker Grove co-star Donna Air is among the celebrities rumoured to be taking part in this year’s Strictly Come Dancing.

Former EastEnders actress Jill, who won the second series of Strictly in 2004 with professional partner Darren Bennett, played Nicola Dobson on the Nineties’ BBC kids show, while Donna played Charlie Charlton.

Jill admits the pair are still in touch and says she would love to see the actress-turned-presenter appear on the dance show when it returns to BBC1 next month.

She told whatsontv.co.uk: “It’ll be lovely if Donna was doing Strictly, although I’ve no idea how she would do.

“I know she’s a perfectionist and she’s a really hard worker – and how amazing would she look in those dresses? I really hope she does it!”

Jill, who appears in the upcoming series of ITV crime drama Vera, says she’s still a big fan of Strictly, and will enjoy watching the new series ‘as a punter’.

She said: “It’s just really lovely to watch – it’s the perfect family show.”