She recalls; “In school, we had to stand up in an English class and give a talk as part of our exam and the girl in front of me talked about vegetarianism and cruelty to animals. I hadn’t prepared anything so when it was my turn, I decided to take the mick and did my talk on cruelty to veg; carrots in particular. I said we couldn’t be sure that they didn’t have the same feelings as a pig and suggested it was cruel to chop them up and boil them like we did. I got an ‘A’ for it but my teacher told me it wasn’t a talk, it was a stand up routine.”
After coming second (twice) in the Young Comedian of the Year, she spent 4 years doing stand up comedy before joining Emmerdale for 3 years. She landed the role of Fiz, as a result of her brilliant comic timing and says simply, “I love jokes and just being around funny people.”
A compassionate side is also evident as, despite a hectic schedule, the popular young actress also finds time to help out at Mood Swings Network, a Manchester based charity set up by her father Tom. She says proudly, “We have just been awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. It’s a real tribute to the work done by the Charity and of course, the volunteers who are so essential.”
“It doesn’t leave me a lot of time for gardening,” she confesses. “I remember growing cress in school and putting it in the airing cupboard to grow quickly,” she giggles, “and mine is probably still there. I wasn’t very interested then.”
Despite a lack of interest in gardening as a child and a lack of time now, Jennie has still managed to create “a little oasis” on her roof terrace, in the middle of Manchester. “It’s lovely,” she says proudly, “I can see all the huge streets and watch the busy traffic as I sit and relax amongst my little trees and flowers. I’ve tried to keep it quite modern and minimalistic,” she explains. “I’ve got a couple of bay trees in pots, hanging baskets with petunias that are all one colour and in the spring I’ll have pots of bulbs. I love brightly coloured flowers and I think daffodils are my favourites. Oooh, that’s a bit Welsh isn’t it?” she shrieks with laughter.
I suggest replanting the hanging baskets with herbs for next year and she’s delighted, “Definitely,” she agrees, “I’d love that. I tried to grow chillies on my windowsill this year but all I grew was green mould. And I managed to kill a Yucca,” she adds sadly. “But I’ll definitely try more things next year.”
“I went to the Queen’s Garden Party on Tuesday,” she adds. “It was lovely and I picked up a few tips from there too,” she giggles.
“Corrie’s got a little gardening story going on now,” she reminds me enthusiastically. “Graham, the new character that’s a friend of David Platt, is starting his own gardening business. He’s already done some pots for Sally and helped Claire Peacock with her garden. (though, that’s all going to get a bit tragic with Claire,” she confides.)
“And he learnt his skills at a Young Offenders Institution, which is cool. Who knows he might become Alan Titchmarsh of the Street,” she laughs.
Lynne Allbutt was talking to Jennie McAlpine for Green Scene in the Western Mail (Media Wales) 25th July 09