EastEnders fans will remember Jill Halfpenny as an undercover cop who ended up marrying Phil Mitchell. She’ll back in blue for the new series of Channel 4’s satirical comedy Babylon (Thursday, November 13).
Jill plays Met police officer Davina as the show returns following a successful pilot episode earlier this year…
How did it feel to be back on set?
“It was really nice because we got to know each other very well last year. On the first day we all put our uniforms on and said: ‘Oh yeah, I remember this’.”
As a member of the force’s territorial support group – or TSG – Davina and her colleagues have to deal with a riot in the first episode. How did you prepare?
“We had riot training and the real police mocked up a full-on riot for us. I couldn’t believe how realistic it was. Imagine the set of EastEnders, only eight times bigger! There was a tube station, shops, the whole nine yards. They were throwing petrol bombs and everything – it was crazy! Before we went in we were dying to get involved, but when we saw what was going on we wondered what we’d let ourselves in for.”
Davina and her fellow TSG member Clarkey were having a secret fling in the pilot episode, how is that going?
“Their relationship is hotting up a bit and Clarkey is getting a bit needy and wants to take it a step further. Davina isn’t into that. Then out of the blue he tells her he’s left his wife and she struggles with that a bit.”
What about Banjo?
“Does she really love Clarkey or doesn’t she? She doesn’t really know … She knows she doesn’t want to be with Banjo, but that doesn’t really mean she wants to be with Clarkey either! She’s in this personal nightmare and it really gets to her because she hates taking any of what she calls ‘personal stuff’ home with her. She thinks it’s unprofessional!”
Are we going to be seeing some romantic liaisons in the police van?
“There are some liaisons – not in the police van – somewhere a little less glamourous!”
Have you met any police officers since the pilot of Babylon screened? How have they reacted to the show?
“Police offers love the scenes where they’re not doing any policing and just hanging around. There are so many cops shows on telly which only show one side of the job. Most of them said they recognised people from their own force in the show as well!”
Did people mistake you for real police officers when you weren’t on set?
“All the time! We went to Nandos and they kept trying to give us free food! People say you get a lot of crap, but you also get a lot of respect. It’s a strange feeling to have. If I was in the police I think I’d find it difficult not to get carried away with the power!”