Gemma Louise Atkinson (born 16 November 1984) is an English actress and ex-glamour model.
She is best known for playing Lisa Hunter on Hollyoaks (2001–2005) and on three spin-off series, Hollyoaks: After Hours (2004), Hollyoaks: Let Loose (2005) and Hollyoaks: In the City (2006); and for playing Tamzin Bayle on Casualty (2011–12, 2014) and Carly Hope on Emmerdale (2015–17).
Atkinson was born in Bury, Greater Manchester. She took her GCSEs at Castlebrook High School, Bury.
Atkinson rose to fame playing Lisa Hunter on the Channel 4 teenage soap opera Hollyoaks. Atkinson and Marcus Patric (who played the character Ben Davies) subsequently appeared in a spin-off series called Hollyoaks: Let Loose for E4, in which their characters started a new life together in Chester. This was followed by Hollyoaks: In the City, also screened on E4.
Other television roles included appearing as herself in the pilot for Plus One, part of the pilot series Comedy Showcase in October 2009. In 2009, she appeared as Ria Crossley, the girlfriend of a drug dealer in The Bill.
In film, Atkinson has appeared in the British independent film Boogie Woogie, which premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in June 2009.
In May 2011, Atkinson began filming for her part in the BBC medical drama Casualty. She played the part of Tamzin, a paramedic; appearing onscreen from 13 August 2011, but had confirmed on Twitter that she would only appear for ten weeks (10 episodes) She left the show on 1 October 2011, after her sixth appearance but later returned to the show as Tamzin in 2014.
In 2015, Atkinson began playing the role of Carly Hope in the ITV soap opera Emmerdale.
She appeared in the 2010 horror film called 13Hrs in February 2009 and a UK gangster film called Baseline in March 2009.
Atkinson played the role of Hannah in the 2011 romantic comedy film How to Stop Being a Loser. The film also starred Richard E. Grant, Jill Halfpenny and Pamela Anderson.
She played the role of Harriett in the 2012 film Airborne. In 2013, she starred in a remake of Night of the Living Dead, released in 3D. Also in 2013, she appeared in Devil's Pass.
Atkinson played the role of Rhea Wagner in the 2016 Bollywood film Fever.
Atkinson appeared in Peter Pan at the Manchester Opera House in December 2008. She took the title role alongside John Thomson who played Captain Hook.
Atkinson appeared in the West End production of Tim Firth's Calendar Girls at the Noël Coward Theatre, from 28 July to 17 October 2009 where she played the character of Elaine. Atkinson also went on tour with Calendar Girls, she played Celia aka Miss September in the production. The January to April 2010 tour of Calendar Girls also starred Lynda Bellingham, Judith Barker, Debbie Chazen, Letitia Dean and Jan Harvey.
Atkinson played the lead female role, Belinda in Neil LaBute's play This Is How It Goes at the King's Head Theatre in Islington, London from 7 September to 3 October 2010.
Atkinson has appeared as a contestant on reality TV series such as I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!, Celebrity MasterChef and Soapstar Superstar.
In January 2007, Atkinson reached the last four stage of ITV's Soapstar Superstar.
Songs performed on Soapstar Superstar:
In December 2006, she appeared in Celebrity Weakest Link with Marcus Patric. In 2007, she took part in the BBC's Celebrity MasterChef competition.
In November 2007, she appeared in the seventh series of I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! in Australia. She finished in fifth place.
In January 2008, Atkinson appeared on Celebrity Mastermind. On 15/16 March 2008, Atkinson co-presented the Play.com Live gaming expo at Wembley Stadium with Virgin Radio presenter Iain Lee.
Atkinson and her family appeared on All Star Family Fortunes on 20 September 2008, competing against Antony Cotton and his family. The Atkinsons did not win the show; however, Gemma was given £1,000 for her chosen charity.
On 12 November 2008, she appeared in Jack Osbourne's ITV2 show Adrenaline Junkie filmed in South Africa. She did a bungee jump, a skydive, a glider flight and swam with great white sharks.
In 2013, she appeared in an episode of I Love My Country, on BBC One. She took part in a celebrity edition of The Chase in December 2015. After the team beat the chaser, Shaun Wallace, Atkinson took home £25,125 for her chosen charity, Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary.
In Autumn 2017 Atkinson competed in the fifteenth series of BBC's Strictly Come Dancing, where she was partnered with professional dancer Aljaž Skorjanec. the couple reached the final of the competition on 16 December, where they finished in joint second place.
In early 2006, Atkinson underwent breast enlargement surgery, which took her bra size to a 34E. She said in an interview that she lost weight due to a fitness regimen and her bust size declined and that the surgery then gave them the original size and shape they once had.
Since launching her parallel career as a glamour model, Atkinson has appeared in provocative photoshoots in lingerie and swimwear, for men's magazines such as Arena, FHM, Loaded, Maxim, Zoo and Nuts. In October 2006, she appeared in three of the aforementioned magazines in one month, becoming one of the most prolific celebrity glamour models in the UK. She has also released calendars yearly since 2006, with the 2008 and 2009 being shot in Thailand.
Since 2006, she has appeared in FHM's 100 Sexiest Women list, debuting at number 32 in 2006; following her appearance on the cover of FHM, she moved up to 23 in 2007; rising again to 18 in 2008 and falling to 81 in 2009. She ranked number 46 in AskMen.com's 99 Sexiest Women of 2008.
Atkinson has said she is happy for men to masturbate while looking at pictures of her breasts, saying "Every man out there is welcome to knock one out when looking at them. No harm in that."
Atkinson has undertaken a wide range of promotional work; she was the female face of the 2007 British Grand Prix and worked for the Orange promotion "On Yer Bike London" prior to the Tour de France.
She has also modelled for lingerie brands, including being the face of La Senza and Ultimo's D-G range. She opened Ultimo stores within Debenhams branches in London, Belfast and Glasgow.
Atkinson has also played Goldie Lookin Chain's love interest in the music video for the single "R'n'B" and featured on the cover of the CD single release.
Atkinson made her debut video game appearance in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 (2008) in the role of Lt. Eva McKenna, which she reprised in Command & Conquer Red Alert 3: Uprising (2009). She also took part in EA's "Be the One" event in Trafalgar Square on 29 October 2008, which forms part of the London Games Festival.
Also in 2013, Atkinson appeared in the video to Rizzle Kicks's song "Skip to the Good Bit". Since 1 February 2017, she has co-hosted the Key 103 breakfast show with Mike Toolan.
In September 2007, Atkinson did a 5 kilometre (3 miles, 190 yards) charity run for breast cancer awareness. She embarked upon a 228 kilometres (142 mi) walk along the Great Wall of China in April 2008, as part of a charity event organised by Olivia Newton-John's breast cancer awareness charity. She was joined on her section of the walk by celebrities Marcus Patric and Ant and Dec amongst others. The walk was intended to symbolise the steps cancer patients must take on their road to recovery.
Atkinson visited the Home and Garden Show at Chester Racecourse on 5 June 2008 to unveil the room she designed with furniture store owner Arighi Bianchi which would be suitable for teenagers in conjunction with the Teenage Cancer Trust charity. Her room design later won first prize and she collected a trophy for her efforts. It was created in association with Teenage Cancer Trust (TCT), the Home and Garden Show's official charity, and the design will now be incorporated into the TCT unit at Christie Hospital, Manchester. Atkinson was later asked to become an ambassador for Teenage Cancer Trust.
On 8 January 2009, Atkinson was at Spinningfields in Manchester helping to launch the Great Manchester Run, a 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) run for charity that took place on 17 May 2009. At the launch, she was joined by singer Russell Watson, and actors Anthony Cotton and Britt Ekland. Atkinson ran to raise funds for the New Children's Hospital appeal. She finished the 10 km run on 17 May 2009 with a time of 1 hour 6 minutes.
In May 2010, Atkinson again took part in the Great Manchester Run, she was competing on behalf of Manchester's Christie Hospital. She hoped to beat her time from the previous year's run of 1 hour 6 minutes. She ran a time of 57 minutes, beating her 2009 time by 9 minutes. In 2011, she again beat her previous year's time, running 55 minutes.
Atkinson became the vice-patron of Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary in Lancashire in January 2016. She ran the Great Manchester Run for the charity in May 2016.
In late 2016, Atkinson supported the #gotyourback message, a campaign to help military veterans seek help if they need it.