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Claire Sweeney
Claire Sweeney

Born:

Claire Jane Sweeney
April 17, 1971
Walton, Liverpool, Lancashire, England

Occupation:

Actress, Television Presenter and Singer

Partner(s):

Tony Hibbarb (2001-2007)
Daniel Reilly (2014-present)

Children:

Jaxon Reilly (2014)

Claire Jane Sweeney (born April 17, 1971) 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.

Early Life

Sweeney was born in Walton, Liverpool, Merseyside, the daughter of a butcher who had a shop in Toxteth. She trained at the Elliot-Clarke Theatre School in Liverpool, and worked on the weekends in her father's shop.

Her first opening gig, at the age of 14, was in the Montrose Club in Liverpool for which she was paid £25. She was then educated full-time at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts in London. 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 starred in a West End version of the same show.

Career

After leaving stage school, Sweeney had many singing engagements before landing the role of Lindsey Corkhill in Brookside in 1989. She entertained cruise ships for P&O as a signer for four years before returning to Britain. 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 No. 15 in the UK Albums Chart in July 2002. In 2003, Sweeney returned to the stage to lead in the world tour of Fosse.

Sweeney then took a regular place on the panel of ITV's relaunched Loose Women from 2003 to 2005, and then left to pursue her stage career.

In 2005 to 2006, Sweeney appeared in pantomime productions of Snow White and Aladdin at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham. On July 10, 2006, Sweeney took over from Sally Ann Triplett in the role of 'Miss Adalaide' in the British production of Guys and Dolls at the Piccadilly Theatre in London's West End for an eight-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 appeared in television programmes such as Merseyboat 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 paints, 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 panellist appearances on Loose Women and was a commentator on The David Dickinson Show for ITV both in early 2010. In July 2010, she was the presenter of Chefs at Sea on GMTV. In October 2010, Sweeney launched her own range of jewellery on the 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 2012, Sweeney appeared in the UK tour of Educating Rita alongside Matthew Kelly and made a guest appearance on Loose Women April 5 and November 15, 2012.

Sweeney starred in the White Christmas musical at the Lowry in Salford Quays with Dallas star Ken Kerchevel and Corrie star Wendi Peters from November 2012 through January 2013.

Twelve years after starring in Celebrity Big Brother, Sweeney appeared again in a Comic Relief fundraising show, this time alongside Natalie Cassidy, Dean Gaffney and Ricky Groves on Let's Dance for Comic Relief in February 2013. They performed to "You Can't Stop the Beat" from Hairspray. In their heat, the group placed second after beating Ricky Hatton in the judges' vote by a score of 2 to 1. The group then took part in the Grand Final March 9, 2013, losing to winning finalist Antony Cotton.

She has written the comedy musical Sex and the Suburbs with Mandy Muden. The show was staged from May 9 to June 7, 2014.

Personal Life

Sweeney had a relationship with businessman Tony Hibbarb for six years, until late 2007. Sweeney was engaged to Daniel Reilly from January 2013 until early 2014. Sweeney gave birth to her first child, a boy in September 2014. A month later, in October, Sweeney announced she was back with Reilly.

She supports the charities Claire House Children's Hospice and Queenie's Christmas Charity.