Born in Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire, England (UK) on 4 June 1972, Debra Stephenson made her first appearance on TV at age 14 in the programme ‘Opportunity Knocks’. She appeared on the programme ‘Blue Peter’ doing an impression of presenter Esther Rantzen. She was a backing singer on Chris Jarvis’ 1997 charity single ‘Glasses’.
As an actress, she appeared in the comedy drama Playing The Field about women’s football, two episodes of ITV’s adaptation of Catherine Cookson’s A Dinner of Herbs, and more prominent role playing Shell Dockley in the ITV prison drama Bad Girls. Her performance as the psychotic Dockley earned her consecutive nominations for Best Actress at the National Television Awards in 1999 and 2000.
As well as doing stand-up comedy at venues including London’s Comedy Store, Stephenson has played several roles as a comic actress on radio and television. These include Hosanna in the BBC Radio 4 comedy At Home with the Snails (2002), and sketch show TV to Go in 2000 with Hugh Dennis and Pauline McLynn.
From June 2004 to December 2006, Stephenson starred in British soap opera Coronation Street playing Frankie Baldwin, the wife of Bradley Walsh’s character, Danny. She received nominations for Best Newcomer at various TV and soap awards shows. She left the show at the end of 2006.
Meanwhile, in July 2005 she appeared as Kate Bush in a celebrity version of Stars In Their Eyes, performing Babooshka. Also in 2005, Stephenson took part in Comic Relief Does Fame Academy, a singing competition involving celebrities, to raise money for charity, and finished fifth. Among her performances was a rendition of ‘Cry Me a River’ which was called “blemishless”. Her participation on the show led to a recording contract and she released her debut album, ‘In The Sunshine’ including cover versions of the songs she sang on the show. One of the tracks was a version of ‘Babooshka’.
Stephenson appeared on Channel Virgin 1’s The Prisoner:X in December 2008 where she was locked up for four days in a high security prison in America, where she spent a night in segregation and was treated as though she was an actual prisoner doing time in that prison. Stephenson played the part of Aladdin in the pantomime Aladdin at the Regent Theatre in Ipswich. The pantomime was shown on 13 December 2008 and performed again in January 2009.
In March 2010, Stephenson took part in Let’s Dance for Sport Relief and reached the final after a rendition of Michael Jackson’s ‘Smooth Criminal’. She had further TV drama roles in ‘Rocket’s Island’, ‘Newzoids’ and ‘Zig and Zag’.