jill halfpenny

Ex-EastEnders actress Jill Halfpenny breaks silence on shocking death of boyfriend

Her partner passed away when he suffered a heart attack at the gym

Gemma Strong

Former EastEnders actress Jill Halfpenny has opened up about the "unbearable" grief she experienced when her partner died suddenly two years ago. The 44-year-old appeared on Line of Duty actor Craig Parkinson's podcast, The Two Shot Podcast, where she shared her grief following the death of Matt, who passed away when he suffered a heart attack at the gym. Tragically, his death mirrored that of Jill's father, Colin Halfpenny, who also died of a heart attack in 1979.

Jill Halfpenny has opened up about the shocking death of her partner

"In January 2017, my partner, in very similar circumstances to my dad, he went to a peloton class at the gym, and he had a heart attack and died," Jill said. With her voice breaking, she continued: "My grief at losing Matt, my partner, was so brutal and so shocking but then what happened was it brought out all of the grief from my dad as well. It was like dealing with a double loss – a loss I'd never actually dealt with." The TV star confessed: "I just found myself thinking, 'Oh my god, this is unbearable. What am I going to do? I cannot cope. I just want cessation, this feeling to stop.'"

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It follows an interview Jill gave to the Radio Times, in which she spoke about the death of her father, who suffered a heart attack in the middle of a football match when she was just four years old. "He was playing football and he had a heart attack," she said. "In the morning he was there and then, in the evening, he wasn't. Girls are brought up to believe that Daddy will be the person who comes to their rescue. When you've lost that sense of somebody being able to come to your rescue, you say, 'To hell with it. I'll be my own rescuer.'"

The TV star was previously married to actor Craig Conway

Jill starred as Kate Mitchell in EastEnders from 2002 until 2005, and has also appeared in Waterloo Road, Dark Money, Three Girls and the 2004 series of Strictly Come Dancing, which she won. In 2007 she married fellow actor Craig Conway, with whom she has one child. The couple divorced in 2010.

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