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Rebecca Atkinson - Biography

The Shameless and Ideal actress was born in 1983

Rebecca Atkinson posing for a photo at an awards show© Getty Images
Hannah Watkin
Content Writer
Updated: July 13, 2023
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Who is Rebecca Atkinson?

Rebecca Atkinson is an English actress best known for her starring role as Shameless's Karen Maguire between 2004 and 2013. She was born on 22 September 1983 in Salford, England.

Early career

Rebecca was destined for stardom from an early age. Whilst acting was to be her call in later life, dance was her biggest passion as a teenager and young adult.

In her earlier years she attended the Preston College of drama and dance, where she explored both paths and even started training to become a professional dancer. During this time she even taught dance at the Glenda Ann School of Dancing - highlighting just how much she was invested in taking her career in this direction.

While she had landed early guest roles in favourites Coronation Street, Hearbeat and The Royal, it wasn't until she was approached to star as flirty barmaid Karen Maguire in Channel 4's hit sensation Shameless that her move into acting would take centre stage.

MORE: Returning fans of Shameless are saying the same thing as before


Shameless kicked off Rebecca's career, where she regularly returned for almost ten years between 2004 and 2013. Whilst playing Karen was arguably her biggest role, she kept busy throughout the duration of the show with numerous other projects.

Fans will have spotted her during the 00s in British favourites including The Bill, Holby City and Life on Mars, cementing her as a TV favourite. She even managed to complete her dance studies during this period too, keeping her passion alive alongside her busy work schedule.

SEE: Where are the cast of Shameless now?

After Shameless wrapped up in 2013, Rebecca kept busy with a slew of appearances in shows such as Doctors, Holby City (as another character) and Staff Room. She even became a mainstay of BBC Scotland soap opera River City between 2016 and 2017.

Although the small screen was her true calling, Rebecca has also dabbled in film too. She starred as Heather Cleveland in 2014 comedy Film: The Movie, as well as 2009's football film Awaydays.

Personal life

For Rebecca, Shameless gave her more than stardom. While shooting in 2008 she met co-star Ben Batt, whose character, Joe Pritchard, would enter a turbulent relationship with her character Karen on-screen. 

While starring together the duo started a budding romance, leading to the birth of their first son, Jack, in 2016.

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