Debra started making an impression at the tender age of six with her impressions of the the likes of Margaret Thatcher and Kate Bush. She began following her dream of a career on the stage by going to dance, drama and singing lessons. Debra entered various talent shows and competitions with her comedy impressions routine and, by the time she was 13, began performing professionally in social and working men's clubs. Then in 1987, at the age of 14, she made her TV debut on Bob Says Opportunity Knocks. In 1990, Debra went "alternative" with a show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and a subsequent tour of Student union bars, as well as other comedy venues, including Covent Garden's Comedy Store. She also began working in radio and even did some of the voices on Spitting Image.
In 1993, Debra changed direction and embarked on training as a serious actress at the Manchester Metropolitan University. Upon graduation, she soon got her first break in Paul Abbot's ITV drama Reckless, starring Robson Green and Francesca Annis. She also co- presented the BBC1 children's show The Friday Zone. A higher profile started to grow with three series of the BBC 1 TV drama, penned by Kay Mellor, Playing the Field, in which she played the loveable but ditzy Diane Powell; and another three series of Bad Girls, for which Debra was twice nominated for Best Actress at the National Television Awards and won most popular actress at The TV Quick Awards, for her role as the evil Shell Dockley. Other shows continued to tap into her talents for comedy as well as straight drama, from Catherine Cookson's A Dinner of Herbs, to Spooks, from Midsummer Murders and Where the Heart Is to the BBC 1 sketch show TV to Go.
In 2004, Debra became one of the nation's favourites for her portrayal of Frankie Baldwin in Coronation Street, where she stayed for almost 3 years. Although the dramatic storylines kept her busy, Debra still found time to make regular contributions to Chanel 4's Friday Night Project. She also took part in Comic Relief does Fame Acadamy - which gave Debra opportunity to release an album of songs entitled In the Sunshine. In fact she has enjoyed the honour of singing solo at many prestigious venues including The Albert Hall, Wembley Arena and her proudest moment was singing the National Anthem at Old Trafford in front of a full stadium as well as the England Football Team! Over the years Debra has enjoyed making appearances on many light entertainment TV shows such as Stars In Their Eyes, which she took part in twice, performing as Kate Bush and Kylie Minogue; we also saw her as Michael Jackson on Let's Dance for Sport Relief, and more recently she scored joint highest marks on the Strictly Come Dancing Chrismas Special. Debra has also been known to turn her hand to presenting, for example the National Lottery Midweek draws and perhaps more notably an immersive style documentary called Prisons for Virgin TV, which involved Debra getting up-close and personal with the inmates of Alemeda County Jail, USA.
Debra likes to dabble in cookery and has enjoyed taking part in such shows as BBC's Celebrity Masterchef and Marco's Kitchen Burnout. She recently put her skills to good use in the kitchen on ITV's Lorraine, regularly rustling up some of the meals which were included in her 28 day Bikini Diet, which featured as part of the show. Debra's recent role as ambassador for the Red Tractor British Food Assurance body also involved Debra demonstrating cooking different meals each day on the web, as well as promoting Britsh farming on TV and radio shows including The Alan Titchmarsh Show and The Write Stuff. But Debra is no stranger to PR, having been attached to campaigns for a wide range of products including Nelson's Homeopathy and The Woodland Trust.
At the moment Debra is probably best known for her impressions of the likes of Davina McCall, Ann Robinson and Cheryl Cole in The Impressions Show with Culshaw and Stephenson, in which she starred in 3 series for BBC1, along with her comedy counterpart Jon Culshaw. However, she has kept her hand in with straight acting having more recently played serious roles in dramas such as ITV's Waterloo Road, Channel 4's Upfront: The Postcode Lottery and BBC1 children's drama Rocket Island, which is due to screen later this year.
Debra's most recent project combines her love of comedy and cookery in the genre-mashing, cutting-edge cook-show with a comic twist, "Fanny and Friends", in which Debra brings Fanny Cradock "back from the dead" to host a brand new programme for Channel 4. The pilot was recently screened on More 4 as part of a whole evening of Fanny's favourite recipes, entitled "A Night in with Fanny" as part of Channel 4's Stand up for Cancer charity campaign.