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Last Updated: Monday, 13 December, 2004, 12:08 GMT
Chicago role for dancing winner
Jill Halfpenny and dance partner Darren Bennett
Halfpenny won full marks for her jive performance on Saturday night
Strictly Come Dancing champion and EastEnders star Jill Halfpenny is to step into the role of Roxie Hart in the hit West End show Chicago.

Halfpenny beat athlete Denise Lewis and comedian Julian Clary in the final of the BBC talent show on Saturday.

The actress, best known for her roles in EastEnders and Byker Grove, opens in Chicago at the end of January.

"I love singing and dancing and this is a dream role for me," Halfpenny, 29, told The Sun.

"I'm very much looking forward to the future," she added.

Halfpenny will be replacing former Brookside star Jennifer Ellison, who bowed out last week, in the role of murderous starlet Roxie Hart.

Catherine Zeta-Jones (l) and Renee Zellweger in the film, Chicago
Renee Zellweger played Roxie Hart in the award-winning film adaptation

The actress is currently contracted to star in the West End musical for three months.

Previous celebrities in the role of Roxie include TV presenter Denise Van Outen and Renee Zellweger in Rob Marshall's Oscar-winning film adaptation.

Halfpenny stunned judges in Strictly Come Dancing with her natural flair for dancing, and rapidly became the bookmakers' favourite to win.

She and dance partner Darren Bennett were named winners on Saturday, following a combination of points from a panel of professional judges and a public phone vote.

"I'm thrilled to have won - it's been an amazing experience," Halfpenny said on Monday.

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