Coronation Street viewers have recently seen Nicky Wheatly arrive back in Weatherfield and last week her past came back to haunt her. The character, played by Kimberly Hart-Simpson, first appeared in the ITV soap in June 2020 when she met recently widowed Daniel Osbourne.
It wasn't long before Daniel, whose wife Sinead Tinker died from cervical cancer in 2019, discovered Nicky was an escort and after being shocked at first, he later started paying her to dress in his wife's clothes as he struggled through his grief. After a four-month stint, Kimberly bowed out of the soap as Nicky, with the help of Daniel, started a new life with her daughter away from Weatherfield.
She then made a surprise return and Nicky landed a job as a teaching assistant at the same school Daniel works at, Weatherfield High. However, that all started to fall apart last week when Max Turner overheard Daniel and new girlfriend rowing in the street about his relationship with Nicky and discovering her past work.
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In a spiteful move, Max leaked video and pictures of Nicky as a sex worker leading to her being hauled into Mrs Crawshaw's office and ultimately losing her job. But things are only going to get worse as this week viewers will see Nicky discover the gazette is preparing to publish an article about her.
Away from the cobbles, things aren't so dramatic for Kimberly. The actress has previously revealed she is a huge fan of the soap and and that she 'manifested' her Corrie return. She previously told us : "This is not for everyone, but I like vision boards, things that I want in my ife I want to see in front of me on the daily - it gives me direction and purpose.
"On the day of getting the call about Corrie, I’d just done a vision board of the 10 things that I want in my life in general, and Corrie went back on there, and I pinned it up and I wrote the reason. I wrote what it would feel like, how I got the call, what would happen next and who I told first - this is all part of something I read online."
She continued: "I did that, and within two hours I got the call to see whether I wanted to go back! "Whether that be the power of my boards, I don’t know, but I think that solidified me, having that vision. I make no secret of the fact that this is where I want to be in life. I love this show, and this has been by far the best job I’ve ever had."
Before Corrie, Kimberly made her television debut in the Sky series Mount Pleasant as Chantelle, a guest role she portrayed for two episodes. Then in 2017, she appeared in Hollyoaks as firefighter Davina before appearing in the Channel 4 soap again in 2020 as Beverly, a landlord.
Later the same year it was revealed that Kimberly had been cast as Nicky in Corrie after previously auditioing for the roles of Maddie Heath and various minor roles. But the actress revealed at the time that securing her role on the Salford-based soap was made particularly special given that it was her father's dying wish.
Speaking told The Sun at the time: "I’ve been watching Coronation Street from the womb. I have been brought up on it. No one would dare ring our house phone when Corrie was on. My dad was a massive Corrie fan. Every time I went to him, even if I hadn’t seen him in a month, he’d want me to shut up while it was on. I think it might have mattered more to him than I did.
"Unfortunately, I lost my dad in 2007. One of the last things he said to me was, ‘Just do me a favour and get on Corrie, love.’ We had that shared connection with it."
After her first stint in Corrie came to an end, Kimberly appeared in the E4 reality series Celebs Go Dating: The Mansion. She said she wasn't fussed about what gender her future partner might be as she appeared on the E4 dating show. "I have dated people who are male, female, transgender…” she told the Mirror. "Gender is completely irrelevant to me.
"We're all on different spectrums. There are many qualities about me I would deem just as much male as female. It's about the person, not what sex they were born. I just fancy everybody."
The year before appeared on Celebs Go Dating, in an interview with Lorraine Kelly on her self-titled ITV show, Kimberly came out as bisexual and explained that in 2019 she designed a rainbow-themed dress for former Hollyoaks star Jessica Ellis for the British Soap Awards.
Then, in January 2021, Kimberly stated that she is pansexual - the romantic or sexual attraction to people of any sex or gender identity. But she had since told the Sunday People that she was sent cruel memes after coming out. Despite the disgusting messages, Kimberly, 35, took the reaction in her stride.
"I’ve had a couple of memes. Me holding a Tefal pan, because I’m ‘pan-sexual’, but that’s all right," she said. "People saying it’s a stunt are not my problem. That’s their problem."
Kimberly did meet her ex-boyfriend, Shane Finlayson, on Celebs Go Dating. The couple had been dating for six months before they split with Kimberly saying the long-distance and Covid-19 restrictions meant that it was hard to maintain the relationship.
She said on Instagram at the time: "We are proud of our journey and respect each other immensely. The show has been the best experience. Our journey after that, even better, but with the distance between us, work commitments and restrictions can naturally take its toll."
Away from the ITV soap - and her love life - Kimberly is a businesswoman having set up fashion company, Hart-Work, in 2018 and all the items for sale are handmade by the soap star herself.
Kimberly explains on the site how she got into making clothes. She said: "Working as a professional actor for over a decade, I picked up a sewing machine in 2018 when work was dry, but my creative mind wasn’t! Hours of YouTube videos and a couple of dodgy garms later, I discover I had the patience and steady hand to create. Fortunate enough to get my work on the red carpet at The Soap Awards 2018 I knew I had given birth to a new obsession; Hart-Work!"
She regularly wows her social media followers with her latest handy work, regularly picking up items from the charity shop and bringing them back to life as brand new pieces. Back in February Kimberly struck a pose in an eye-catching leather look cropped top with distressed jeans in a snap shared on her Instagram. And fans were even more impressed when she revealed that she had snapped up the bronze lace-up top for just £2.
And while she's been away from Corrie, Kimberly's been helping out at a charity shop. Since October Kimberly, who has been back filming as Nicky Wheatley in Corrie, has been volunteering at a British Heart Foundation store. "I’ve gone to their shops near me for years, not just to shop but to chat with the staff because I became friends with them," Kimberly told the Mirror.
Explaining how she got involved in working there herself, she said: "The charity have done a big volunteering drive as the numbers of shop volunteers they had fell after lockdown, so I’ve been doing it around my schedule and it’s become a home from home to me."
But there is a personal reason behind Kimberly's decision to work at the BHF shop in Manchester, where she tends to stick with working in the stockroom and getting donations ready to go on sale Her sister Emma Simpson, who is in her forties, was diagnosed with a chronic heart condition a few years ago.
Kimberly says donations to the charity helped save her much-loved sister’s life, as these go towards funding scientific research for new medicines and other treatments for people affected by heart problems.