Byker Grove cast: Then vs now

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We take a look at the biggest stars from the BBC children’s TV show.

BBC Newcastle-based children’s TV show, Byker Grove, which revolved around a youth club in Byker began in 1989 and ended in 2006.

The show which tackled controversial issues for young people, became a huge hit, and helped to bring Geordie young talent into the entertainment industry. Some of those young actors went on to become hugely successful stars.

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Here, we take a look at some of the biggest stars from Byker Grove, and where they are today.

Ant and Dec

The most successful of all the Byker Grove cast, Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donelly met on the set and became the duo we know today - Ant and Dec. Before that however, they embarked on a career in music, using their Byker Grove character names, PJ & Duncan. They had a number one hit in 1994 with Let’s Get Ready To Rhumble.

Ant and Dec (pic: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)Ant and Dec (pic: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)
Ant and Dec (pic: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)

During their Byker Grove days, we saw PJ & Duncan take on various storylines, including PJ being blinded during a paintball fight. In the present day, Ant and Dec no longer act or make music but instead present various shows on ITV including Britain’s Got Talent and I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. They won the NTA for Best Presenter again this year, making it 21 years of wins in a row.

Charlie Hunnam

He may have only been in three episodes, but there is no forgetting that movie-star heart throb Charlie Hunnam began his career as Jason Chuckle in Byker Grove. The Newcastle-star went on to appear in Channel 4 show Queer as Folk, written by Russell T Davies.

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However, it was his roles as Pete Dunham in Green Street (2005) and in TV show Sons of Anarchy (2008) as Jax Teller that really shot Hunnam into super-stardom. Since then, he has racked up quite an impressive CV of movie and TV roles.

Jill Halfpenny

Jill Halfpenny was one of the main, original characters on Byker Grove, playing the role of Nicola Dobson back in 1989. She remained in the role until 1992.

We hope to see more of Jill on our screens!We hope to see more of Jill on our screens!
We hope to see more of Jill on our screens! | Getty Images

After Byker Grove, Halfpenny starred in two of the main UK soaps, first Coronation Street as Rebecca Hopkins and then Eastenders as Kate Mitchell. She still continues to act in a variety of roles, from drama to comedy - some of which have become hugely popular after arriving on Netflix.

Donna Air

Wallsend-born Donna Air starred on Byker Grove as Charlie Charlton from 1992 to 1995. After her stint on the show, she went on to appear in various small film and television roles, including in Hollyoaks as Sophia back in 2010.

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A woman of many talents, Air dipped her toe into the music industry, before taking on many roles as a presenter. Air also has competed in reality shows such as Splash! and Dancing On Ice. Outside of her career, Air dated the brother of Kate Middleton, from 2013 to 2019.

Andrew Hayden-Smith

Andrew Hayden-Smith began his career in the entertainment industry in 1996 as Ben Carter. He remained in the role for eight series, leaving in 2003. After that, he went into presenting  TV, including on CBBC, Blue Peter and This Morning.

He also continued to act, starring in the likes of Doctor Who. He went on to become a series regular on Hollyoaks, playing the role of DS Armstrong from 2016 to 2017.

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