EastEnders star and Strictly winner Jill Halfpenny guest stars in the new series of Inspector George Gently. Here she spills the beans on her character, Cora

So Jill, what can you tell us about your character in Inspector George Gently?
“I play a girl called Cora Davidson who’s from Northumberland but left there a long time ago. She’s a property developer and comes back to buy a house which she plans to demolish. A murder takes place and she becomes a suspect…”

Ah, so you’re the murder suspect! But is Cora in any way sympathetic?
“Yes. She’s very hard faced and very tough but there are a lot of people like that. Once you tap into what it is they’re having to be so hard about, you realise it’s because they’re in so much in pain.”

Sounds complicated…
“Oh yeah, she is, it’s always good to play characters like that because they’re more interesting. It’s a very sad little story actually.”

Working with Martin must have been great?
“I really enjoyed it, had a lot of fun with him, and some lovely chats! He’s just such a nice guy and Lee Ingleby is lovely as well.”

And going back to the 1960s must have been fun too?
“As soon as I read the script, I wanted to play her. Any actor will tell you it’s always nice to do period stuff. A lot of the reasons people want to be actors is to become different people, and obviously a lot of television drama is set in the modern day so you don’t often get the opportunity to go a bit wild with the costumes.”

How wild are your …Gently costumes?
“I had a really cool blue checked jacket and skirt, which was very Penelope Pitstop! There’s lot of bright colours like greens, pinks and reds. She had a pair of shoes and gloves to match the outfit and everything was perfectly co-ordinated as was the fashion then.”

This is your first TV role since the birth of your first baby Harvey Reece. How was it going back to work?
“It was great and kind of a relief. Here I am, I’m back! But I do feel lucky because I’ve got a really good-natured little boy. He’s chilled out and just likes to play, oh and he sleeps really well. He only gets narky when he’s tired and hungry – but that’s only like adults I suppose!