Atkinson rose to fame playing Lisa Hunter on the Channel 4 teenage soap opera Hollyoaks. Atkinson and Marcus Patric (who played the character Ben Davies) subsequently appeared in a "spin-off" series called Hollyoaks: Let Loose for E4, in which their characters started a new life together in Chester. This was followed by Hollyoaks: In the City also screened on the E4 network.
Atkinson played Goldie Lookin Chain's love interest in the music video for the single "R'n'B" and featured on the cover of the CD single release.
In October 2007, Atkinson played herself in an episode of the Channel 4 pilot series Comedy Showcase: Plus one.
In January 2008, Gemma appeared on Celebrity Mastermind, with Marcus Patric.
Gemma made her debut video game appearance in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 as Lt. Eva McKenna. She also took part in EA's Be The One event in Trafalgar Square on 29 October 2008, which forms part of the London Games festival. She also makes her comeback in Command & Conquer Red Alert 3: Uprising as Lt. Eva McKenna, once again.
She has appeared as a contestant on Reality TV series such as I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!, Celebrity Weakest Link (with Marcus Patric) in December 2006, Celebrity Magic, Celebrity Masterchef and ITV1's Soapstar Superstar. She reached the last four stage of Soapstar Superstar  and her bikini clad performance of an illusion in which her whole body was penetrated by lightbulbs was voted the audience's favourite routine on Celebrity Magic.
Songs performed on Soapstar Superstar:
- Day 1: Who Knew (Pink)
- Day 2: Fields of Gold (Eva Cassidy)
- Day 3: I Love Rock 'n' Roll (The Arrows)
- Day 4: Love at First Sight (Kylie Minogue)
- Day 5: You're Still the One (Shania Twain)
- Day 6: Brass in Pocket (The Pretenders); Pink Medley: Just like a Pill/Feel Good Time/Last to Know
Gemma and her family appeared on All Star Family Fortunes on 20 September 2008 alongside Antony Cotton and his family. The Atkinsons did not win the show; however, Gemma was given £1,000 for her chosen charity.
On 12 November 2008 she appeared in Jack Osbournes ITV2 show Adrenaline Junkie filmed in South Africa. She did a bungee jump, swam with Great White sharks, and took part in magician Wolfgang Riebe's illusion Rip Saw. She performed each of the feats with great aplomb.
In early 2006, Atkinson underwent breast enlargement surgery, which took her bra size to a 34E. She said in an interview that she lost weight due to a fitness regime and her bust size declined. The surgery then gave them the original shape they once were.
Since launching her parallel career as a glamour model, Atkinson has appeared in provocative photoshoots in lingerie and swimwear, including non-nude topless shots, for men's magazines such as Arena, FHM, Loaded, Maxim, Zoo Weekly and Nuts. In October 2006, she appeared in three of the aforementioned magazines in one month, becoming one of the most prolific celebrity glamour models in the UK. In November 2006, it was announced by Zoo Weekly that Atkinson had agreed to lend her name to their regular "sex and relationships column". She has also released 2 very successful calendars, in 2006 and 2007. Like the previous year, her 2009 calendar was also shot in Thailand and is set to be released in November 2008.
Since 2006, she has appeared in FHM's 100 Sexiest List, debuting at number 32 in 2006; following her appearance on the cover of FHM, she moved up to 23 in 2007; and in 2008, she rose again to number 18. She ranked No. 06 in COED Magazine Online's "50 Sexiest WAGs of World Football" and number 46 in askmen.com's 99 Sexiest Women of 2008. "
In early 2007 she was selected to be the new face of the Lingerie chain La Senza, and began to take part in a series of product launches for the brand. In October 2007, Atkinson was elected the new face of Ultimo's Magic D-G range. She opened Ultimo stores within Debenham branches in London, Belfast and Glasgow. The London launch saw Atkinson, wearing a bra and panty set from the new range, sawn in half by a magician and displayed (in halves) in the store window. She subsequently took part in a webcast magic show wearing other items from the range.
In May 2007, Atkinson was announced as the "glamourous new face" of the British Grand Prix and the official "mascot" of the "hi-octane" championship at Silverstone on 8 July. She was the face of the 2007 Tour de France.
Atkinson has promoted cycling initiatives on a number of occasions. In 2007 she promoted Orange's On Yer Bike, a promotion which tied in with the Tour de France. 500 free bicycles were distributed to the general public. A promotional event had Atkinson don a skin-tight lycra cycling suit, and take part in a magic and stunt show. She produced three BMX stunt riders from an empty box for their show, was chained into an upright frame so the stunt riders could pass through her, and then posed with a bike which was raised into the air and made to disappear. A smaller version of the routine was restaged in 2010 to promote the Sky Ride event: Atkinson posed in a Sky Ride halter top and hot pants, while stunt rides jumped over her.
In September 2007, Atkinson did a Template:Convert charity run for Breast Cancer awareness.
She embarked upon a Template:Convert walk along the Great Wall of China in April 2008, as part of a charity event organised by Olivia Newton-John's breast cancer awareness charity. She was joined on her section of the walk by celebrities Marcus Patric and Ant and Dec amongst others. The walk was intended to symbolize the steps cancer patients must take on their road to recovery.
Gemma visited The Home and Garden Show at Chester Racecourse, on June 5, 2008, to unveil the room she designed with furniture store owner Arighi Bianchi which would be suitable for teenagers in conjunction with the Teenage Cancer Trust charity. Her room design later won first prize and she collected a trophy for her efforts.
It was created in association with Teenage Cancer Trust (TCT), the Home and Garden Show's official charity, and the design will now be incorporated into the TCT unit at Christie Hospital, Manchester. Gemma has also been asked to become a full ambassador for the TCT charity.
On Jan 8th 2009 Gemma was at Spinningfields in Manchester helping to launch The Great Manchester Run,a 10k run for charity that will take place on Sunday 17th May 2009. At the launch she was joined by Russell Watson singist,Anthony Cotton actor and Britt Ekland. Gemma will be raising funds for the New Children's Hospital appeal.
- Boogie Woogie - Charlotte Bailey (2006)
- Hollyoaks - Lisa Hunter (2001-2006) - 631 Episodes
- Hollyoaks: Let Loose - Lisa Hunter (2006) - 20 Episodes
- Hollyoaks: In The City - Lisa Hunter (2007) - 25 Episodes
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