Hordley grew up in Oldham, Lancashire where he attended North Chadderton Comprehensive, before Jeff went on to gain a BA (Hons) Theatre Arts (Acting) degree from Manchester Metropolitan University School of Theatre in 1997.
Hordley is best known for his portrayal of bad-boy Cain Dingle in the British soap opera Emmerdale. He has played the recurrent role since 2000, most recently returning to British television screens on 28 April 2009. He had previously appeared in Coronation Street as a minor character on the episode broadcast 28 November 1998.
After appearing as Cain Dingle, Hordley was an obvious choice to play a pantomime villain, which he did in the 2006–07 production of Mother Goose at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley, London. He later played Napoleon in the George Orwell classic Animal Farm at Leeds' West Yorkshire Playhouse from 18 October – 8 November 2008. Most recently Hordley took on the role of Mick in Pinter's 1960 play The Caretaker when staged at Bolton's Octagon Theatre from 5–28 March 2009.
He married his college sweetheart Zoe Henry in 2003. Henry co-stars alongside Hordley in Emmerdale as Veterinary Surgeon Rhona Goskirk. The couple have two children; a daughter named Violet, born in 2005, and a son called Stan, born in April 2008. He is a loyal Manchester City fan.
In 1996, Hordley was diagnosed with Crohn's disease, an incurable and potentially life-threatening illness. He has experienced symptoms since age 20. He has been hospitalized three times from his condition. He is currently in remission.