'The Holiday' star Jill Halfpenny reveals all about the new must-see thriller

Jill Halfpenny and the cast of The Holiday
Jill Halfpenny leads the cast of Channel 5's new thriller The Holiday. (Image credit: Channel 5)

After playing a grieving mother in The Drowning last year, Jill Halfpenny plays another woman in anguish in the new Channel 5 thriller The Holiday.

The former Waterloo Road star plays Kate, a police detective, who arrives in Malta for a week of fun in the sun with family and friends. But the trip turns into a nightmare when she discovers her husband Sean (Killing Eve’s Owen McDonnell) is having an affair. 

Sean and Kate in The Holiday

Kate discovers her husband Sean is having an affair. (Image credit: Channel 5)

To make matters worse, Kate realises that Sean’s illicit lover is one of her three friends from university who are sharing a luxury villa with the couple and their kids.

Kate makes her shocking discovery just a few hours into her holiday when she finds some revealing text messages on Sean’s phone.

Based on the bestselling 2019 novel of the same name by TM Logan, the four-part drama airs over consecutive nights from Tuesday, March. 1, and follows Kate as tries to work out who has betrayed her.

But which of her friends is it?

Kate’s glamorous university friend Rowan (Siobhan Hewlett) is in Malta with husband Russ (Andrew Macklin) and daughter Odette (Molly McCann), and seems to be getting on very well with Sean.    

With his marriage seemingly on shaky ground, Russ reveals that he suspects his wife is having an affair. 

Jill Halfpenny and her co-stars in The Holiday

Kate's on holiday with her university friends Rowan, Izzy and Jenny. (Image credit: Channel 5)

Jenny (Liv Mjönes) is on holiday with her husband Alistair (Aidan McArdle) and their son Jack (Shaun O'Callaghan) and she has a game-changing confession to make to her old university pal Kate.

Alistair clashes with Jenny over how to parent their son Jake and asks his wife if there’s anything she needs to tell him…

The other holidaymakers think their LA-based friend Izzy (Cat Simmons) is single, but she arrives in Malta with the news that she’s in a relationship and planning to move back to the UK.

As more secrets and lies come tumbling out, it all leads to a terrifying and deadly climax with someone seemingly prepared to kill to keep their secret safe.

We caught up with Jill to find out more…

Where do we find Kate at the start of the series?

"She’s got a lovely family and feels a bit smug about the fact she has the best marriage in her friendship group. In the first scene, you see her ask Sean if he’s OK, because she knows something’s up, but doesn’t know what. She’s not worried, but when she finds out [about the affair], it really does rock her."

Kate and Sean with kids Daniel and Lucy in The Holiday

Kate and Sean with kids Daniel and Lucy. (Image credit: Channel 5)

Does Kate confront Sean straightaway?

"It wouldn't be a thriller if she did! That said, Kate’s not capable of confronting her husband straightaway or having an honest conversation with a friend. She’s a detective so she uses those skills to look around and collect information before going forward."

Kate, Sean and Rowan in The Holiday

Kate wonders if Sean is cheating on her with Rowan. (Image credit: Channel 5)

Kate soon finds that all of her family and friends have secrets…

"Yes, you’re constantly thinking about every single character and wondering, ‘Is it her?’, or, ‘Is it him?’ Nothing’s what it seems! When I read the script, I enjoyed pointing the finger at different people – and getting it completely wrong."

Jill Halfpenny as Kate in The Holiday

Kate tries to work out who's sleeping with her husband in 'The Holiday'. (Image credit: Channel 5)

There are flash-forward scenes showing Kate and her fellow holidaymakers engulfed in smoke and flames. What were those like to film?

"You see things like that on the schedule and think it’ll be fun, but the truth is they are hard work. We were just running about, coughing and shouting for six hours! It wasn’t done in one go, it was scattered throughout the filming schedule so I’d see it and think, ‘Oh great, more coughing and shouting today!’"

Did you read TM Logan’s book before filming started?

"No, but I read it once I was off the job. The book does vary slightly… I never used to read thrillers until I was asked to read The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly for the Richard and Judy Book Club. I loved it and read more of his books. It wasn’t a genre I would have picked up before."

What appealed to you about this drama?

"It was another thriller with Channel 5 [after the hit series The Drowning last year], and I knew it would be a great team of people. It’s good fun doing thrillers because it’s slightly heightened reality and it’s interesting to play with that. I also thought it would be fun to go abroad and enjoy that side of things, too."

The Holiday

Jill Halfpenny as Kate in 'The Holiday'. (Image credit: Channel 5)

How did you find filming in Malta?

"When we got there, we all had to isolate for two weeks, so it was quite strange arriving in this new country and then not seeing a soul. Malta was in quite a strict lockdown as we were filming, so protocols were really tight. You went to your hotel, you went to sleep, you got up, you filmed. There wasn’t any time to socialise and everywhere was shut. It was very regimented, more so than any other job I’ve been on before."

You’ve had roles in 'EastEnders' and 'Coronation Street'. Do you think being in soaps has helped you with your other dramatic roles?

"Soaps work so quickly. I don’t think people appreciate the speed that soaps have to work in order to get the content out. So that’s how they can help you. Once you’ve experienced working on a soap, it does stand you in good stead so you can say ‘This is alright. I know how to work under pressure like this.’ It’s not really much of a shift in gears for me if we have to do something in the first or second take. It doesn’t throw me as much as people who haven’t worked at the speed before."

Your CV is a wonderful mix of dramatic and comedic roles – do you enjoy doing both?

"Yes, that’s my dream come true. It’s really lovely to have the variety. I feel really grateful to do different things. It keeps me on my toes, that’s for sure!"

The Holiday is being shown at 9.00pm on four consecutive nights on Channel 5 from Tuesday, March. 1 to Friday, March. 4.