Remember the girl from Julia Jekyll and Harriet Hyde? Now 38, she is a stunning acclaimed actress

Richard Bevan
Richard Bevan
4 Min Read

The 90s were iconic for many reasons; the Spice Girls, jelly sandals, and for those with a penchant for children’s television, ‘Julia Jekyll and Harriet Hyde’. The energetic girl with the duality of being both Julia and Harriet? That was Olivia Hallinan. Today, at 38, not only is she a radiant beauty, but she has carved a notable niche in the world of acting, transforming from the quirky child actress we all loved into an accomplished star.

Born and raised in Twickenham, West London, Olivia has always been surrounded by art and performance. Being the second youngest of four sisters, she dabbled in acting from an early age. It started with her mother’s Saturday drama school, All Expressions in Teddington. This early foundation surely paved the way for the myriad roles she’d play in the future.

After completing her education from St Catherine’s School and Notting Hill & Ealing High School, Hallinan further pursued her passion by studying English and Drama at the University of Manchester. Balancing education with a budding acting career isn’t easy, but for Olivia, it seemed she had the recipe for success.

Her trajectory in the realm of acting is as varied as it is impressive. Olivia has displayed a dynamic range from her first professional role with Cilla Black in ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ to numerous theatre, radio, and television appearances. Fans remember her vividly for roles in ‘The Bill’, ‘Holby City’, ‘My Family’, and ‘Granada TV’s Girls in Love’. However, her portrayal of a lesbian character in Channel 4’s ‘Sugar Rush’ showcased her commitment to diversity and representation. Olivia didn’t just stop at performing; she also addressed the Stonewall Gay Youth Conference in 2007, discussing the nuances of playing such a character.

It was her role as Laura Timmins in the BBC production ‘Lark Rise to Candleford’ that further solidified her position as a TV favourite. Olivia didn’t just stop at TV; she ventured into film, theatre, and radio. Her film debut in ‘Jack Falls’ as Natasha turned heads and showcased a mature side to her acting prowess.

In 2011, her performance in ‘Precious Little Talent’ at London’s West End and ‘Herding Cats’ at the Hampstead Theatre captured attention. The world of radio dramas also saw Olivia portraying Marianne Dashwood in BBC Radio 4’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s ‘Sense and Sensibility’ in 2013.

While her professional achievements are commendable, her personal life brings a heartwarming touch. In 2020, she announced her relationship with former polo player turned actor and presenter Charles Smith. Their love story is the stuff of modern fairy tales, complete with a residence in Windsor, Berkshire, and the birth of their child in May 2021.

One of the standout moments in Olivia’s career came in 2008 when she was named one of the ‘UK Stars of Tomorrow’ in Screen International. It’s an accolade that underlines her skill and potential. The fact that names like Tom Hiddleston, Michelle Dockery, and Dev Patel shared the same honour that year speaks volumes about Olivia’s calibre.

So from the endearing girl in ‘Julia Jekyll and Harriet Hyde’ to the stunning much-respected actress, Olivia Hallinan has truly had a fantastic trajectory.

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