Many EastEnders fans will fondly remember the di Marco family’s arrival in Albert Square during the 1990s.
A teenager when she made her first appearance on the BBC soap, Carly Hillman took on the role of Nicky di Marco – younger sister to protective older brothers Beppe and Gianni and best pal of long-running character Sonia Jackson.
Throughout her two-year stint on the soap, Carly, now 38, navigated some hard-hitting storylines – including the time Nicky’s maths tutor Rod Morris sexually assaulted her after mum Rosa arranged some additional private lessons.
Nicky bid farewell to Albert Square in 2000, opting to go and live in a youth hostel following her family’s refusal to believe she had been attacked by her teacher.
Two decades on from her character’s on-screen departure, Carly is still working in the entertainment industry – but not as an actress.
Shortly after her EastEnders exit, Carly appeared in Harry and Cosh in 2002 and went on to gain TV and theatre credits in shows such as Celebrity Britain’s Best Dish, Soapstar Superchef and leading roles with RJ Williamson Shakespeare Company, New Vic Workshops and Ian Dickens Productions.
Like many former soap stars, Carly also enjoyed many stints on the pantomime circuit, appearing in Wizard of Oz, Cinderella, Aladdin, Dick Whittington and Snow White alongside the likes of Danny La Rue, Jim Davidson, Bradley Walsh, Joe Pasquale, Stephen Mulhern and other stars.
In the early 00s, the former child star also pursued a musical career – releasing the song Mutual as part of the British R&B group Urban Lady in 2003.
In 2009, Carly took a break from her career to focus on her family life – welcoming two daughters into the world with her husband Ben Probert.
Over recent years, the brunette beauty has seemingly decided to focus her efforts on her singing career, rather than acting.
According to her professional website, Carly has been “performing as a vocalist at weddings, birthday parties, private parties, christenings, restaurants, bars, corporate events, Christmas parties and holiday parks all over the south east of England, for the past five years”.
Carly currently performs across Essex, Hertfordshire, Suffolk, London and Kent and range “includes R&B, Soul, Pop, Disco, Rock and Ballads”.
The mum-of-two keeps a relatively quiet profile on social media – last posting to Instagram two years ago – but did take to Twitter in December 2020 to pay tribute to her late co-star, Barbara Windsor.
“So sad to hear the news about Dame Barbara Windsor,” Carly tweeted to her 438 followers upon hearing about the sad passing of the Peggy Mitchell actress.
“A wonderful lady who always had time for everyone. Was an absolute privilege to have met and worked with her. Another British icon gone.”
Carly describes herself on Twitter as “Former EastEnders Actress & Female Solo Vocalist”.
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