Byker Grove – where are they now?

As the cast and crew prepare to celebrate 25 years since the BBC1 drama began, we take a look at what the actors playing PJ and Duncan, Nicola Dobson, Charlie Charlton and more have been up to since they left the show

Remember PJ & Duncan? Schoolgirl Nicola Dobson? Heart-throb Ben Carter? To celebrate 25 years since the first episode of the hugely popular Byker Grove was broadcast, the former cast and crew of the BBC1 drama set in a youth club on Tyneside are having a reunion next month to celebrate the classic childrens series.


But what has the cast been up to since they said goodbye to the beloved Geordie youth club?

Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, played PJ and Duncan

After leaving the BBC1 drama, the duo went on to record two albums under their Byker Grove names. In 1995 they began presenting their own CBBC show, The Ant & Dec show and won two BAFTAs. The pair went on to host SMTV Live and CD:UK, later moving to primetime with Pop Idol, Britain’s Got Talent and Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway. Since 2002, the pair have hosted jungle reality hit, I’m A Celebrity which starts again next month.

Jil Halfpenny, played Nicola Dobson

In 1999, the actress started playing Rebecca Hopkins in Coronation Street before later moving to Albert Square in 2002 to join EastEnders. As well as a string of other dramas including Waterloo Road, Peak Practice and the recent BBC1 six-parter, In The Club, she won the second series of Strictly Come Dancing. Halfpenny has had a musical theatre career and played beautician Paulette in The West End’s Legally Blonde.

Donna Air, played Charlie Charlton

After joining the Grove aged 10, Air launched herself as a pop star in pop duo Crush, touring all over Asia and Europe before hosting a daily MTV show, The Big Breakfast, Live From Studio Five and Popstars The Rivals Extra. She has appeared in several films including The Mummy Returns and Bad Day. Last year, Air came 4th in ITV’s reality diving competition Splash.

Denise Welch, played Polly

In 1997, she was cast as Natalie Horrocks (later Barnes) in Coronation Street before leaving the show in 2000.  Since then Welch has appeared in Holby City, The Bill, Doctors and From 2006 to 2010 she played French teacher Steph Haydock in BBC’s Waterloo Road and was a panelist on Loose Women until last year.

Andrew Hayden-Smith, played Ben Carter

The actor went on to become one of CBBC’s main presenters until 2006. He also appeared in three episodes of Doctor Who and is recently made a short film, Fall Out. He recently joined the cast of Banana, Russell T Davies’s new E4 drama series and in January this year he began writing a grooming column in Attitude magazine.

Charlie Hunnam, played Jason

The actor gained fame as Nathan Maloney in Russell T Davies’s Queer as Folk and moved to LA at 18, playing a baddie alongside Nicole Kidman in 2003 film Cold Mountain and appearing in Pacific Rim, Children of Men and 2012’s Deadfall. Since 2009 he’s boosted his Hollywood profile playing Jax in Sons Of Anarchy. Last year it was announced that Hunnam would play Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades film but he later withrdrew, saying it was due to clashing schedules for Sons of Anarchy.


If you were a Byker Grove fan, vote for the series in our Childrens’ TV Champion to get it through to the next round.