Birth name Kara Louise Tointon

Birthday 5 August 1983

Star sign

Birthplace Basildon, Essex

Before finding fame as a performer, Kara Tointon was born to Carol and Ken in Basildon, Essex. She has a younger sister named Hannah who is also an actress.

Kara was raised in Leigh-on-Sea, where she attended St Michael’s School. She later enrolled at St Hilda’s School in Westcliffe-on-Sea.

After being diagnosed with dyslexia aged seven, Kara had drama and speech lessons at school.

She dated Busted singer James Bourne from the age of 15.

Her first professional acting experience came when she took on the role of Brigitta in The Sound Of Music at the Cliffs Pavilion.

Playing the part of Sonia Fowler’s school friend in EastEnders in 1994, Kara made her first TV appearance.

She also acted as student Pauline Young in the first series of Channel 4’s Teachers in 2001.

In 2004, Kara got her big break, returning to BBC’s EastEnders as a new character.

She played barmaid Dawn Swann for four years, before leaving the soap alongside co-star Ricky Groves on 27 August 2009.

In December 2008, Kara Tointon revealed that she was in a relationship with her former co-star Joe Swash, who starred as her on-screen brother Mickey Miller.

The couple appeared in the 2009/2010 pantomime of Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs in Bristol.

The actress recorded a documentary for BBC Three called Kara Tointon: Don’t Call Me Stupid in July 2010.

The programme examined the impact dyslexia can have on people’s lives and the difference different learning styles can have on people with dyslexia.

Following her success on Sport Relief’s special edition of Strictly Come Dancing  two years previously, Kara was a contestant on the eighth series of the show in 2010.

Alongside her professional dance partner Artem Chigvintsev, Kara was crowned the winner of the competition, beating Blue Peter star Matt Baker.

A month after their win, Kara announced that they were a couple. They ended things in 2014.

In May 2011, Kara Tointon played Eliza Doolittle in the West End production of Pygmalion and was cast as Evelyn in Alan Ayckbourn’s Absent Friends the next year.

She then played Ginny in Ayckbourn’s Relatively Speaking in the summer of 2013.