Claire Jane Sweeney was born on 17 April 1971 in Walton, Liverpool, England, is an English actress, singer and television personality, best known for playing the role of Lindsey Corkhill in the Channel 4 soap opera Brookside and her appearance on the first series of the reality TV show Celebrity Big Brother.
She trained at the Elliott-Clarke Theatre School in Liverpool, and went on to the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts in London. Her first singing gig, at the age of 14, was in the Montrose Club in Liverpool. In 1987, she was a member of the Southport Summer Youth Theatre Workshop’s production of the musical Hair. Following this production, she auditioned for a part in the Southport Arts Centre’s Centre Stage Company production of Chicago but was turned down because she was considered too young – she later went on to star in a West End version of the same show.
After leaving stage school, Sweeney had many singing engagements before landing the role of Lindsey Corkhill in Brookside in 1991. She entertained cruise ships for P&O as a singer for four years before returning to England. On her return, Sweeney reprised her role of Lindsey and remained on the show as a leading character until its demise in 2003.
Sweeney appeared on Celebrity Big Brother in 2001 in aid of Comic Relief, where she met Anthea Turner who has become a close friend. Her appearance on the show prompted her to greater fame amongst the British public. This directly led to appearing as “Roxie Hart” in the musical Chicago in London. In 2002, Sweeney released an album, Claire on Telstar Records. This consisted of a mix of original material and cover versions of well-known songs, which peaked at #15 in the UK Albums Chart in July 2002. In 2003, Sweeney returned to the stage in the lead in the world tour of Fosse.
Sweeney then took a regular place on the panel of ITV’s relaunched Loose Women from 2003–2005, but left to pursue her stage career.
In 2005 and 2006, Sweeney appeared in pantomime productions of Snow White and Aladdin at Theatre Royal, Nottingham. On 10 July 2006, Sweeney took over from Sally Ann Triplett in the role of “Miss Adelaide” in the UK production of Guys and Dolls at the Piccadilly Theatre in London’s West End for an 8 week run. Sweeney also played opposite Dirty Dancing star Patrick Swayze before touring the UK extensively in the same production.
She has also presented a number of shows, such as Challenge of a Lifetime, I’m famous…and frightened!, A Song for Europe and 60 Minute Makeover and acted in Television programmes such as Merseybeat and Clocking Off. In 2004, Sweeney appeared as a contestant on the first series of the BBC One pro-celebrity ballroom dancing competition Strictly Come Dancing. She has most recently been seen as the host of the television series Chef vs Britain and as a regular panellist on Loose Women, both for ITV.
In 2005, the fitness DVD Claire Sweeney: The Perfect Fit with Weight Watchers was released. For a period, Sweeney was the holder of The Forces Sweetheart title. In 2001, she won Rear of the Year.
She starred in the pantomime Snow White at the Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent in December 2008. In 2008, she was the main figure in the documentary Claire Sweeney’s Big Fat Diet on ITV in which she gained 2 stones/13 kilograms in 6 weeks to prove that lack of eating and training habits can damage your health. She then starred in the touring production of the musical Shout! alongside Su Pollard. In March 2009, Sweeney appeared in adverts for Dulux paint, and became the face of Park Christmas Savings. In December 2009 she starred as Carrion the Wicked Fairy in Sleeping Beauty alongside comedian Kev Orkian at The Churchill Theatre, Bromley.
Sweeney made several guest panelist appearances on Loose Women and was a commentator on The David Dickinson Show for ITV both in early 2010 – later, in July 2010 she was the presenter of Chefs at Sea on GMTV.
In October 2010, Sweeney launched her own range of jewellery on shopping channel bid tv.
Sweeney returned to musical theatre in 2011, playing both ‘The Girl’ in a national tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Tell Me on a Sunday and replacing fellow Liverpudlian Liz McClarnon, as Paulette, in the first UK tour of Legally Blonde the musical. During April 2011, she also starred as Amanda in the BBC television series Candy Cabs.
In summer 2012, Sweeney is due to appear alongside Matthew Kelly at the Theatre Royal, Bath in Educating Rita. and made a guest panellist appearence on Loose Women on 5 April.
Sweeney had a six year relationship with businessman Tony Hibbard, until late 2007.