Claire Skinner

Last updated on the 26 April 2024 by Maeve

Claire Skinner headshot

Mini Biography

Born: 1965, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, England. 

Claire Skinner was the youngest daughter of a shopkeeper and an Irish secretary. Skinner battled childhood shyness, however, beneath the surface, a burning ambition flickered. The world of acting called to her and she poured her energy into it, even if it meant neglecting her schoolwork. While she “barely scraped through her A-levels” at Cavendish School, her dedication paid off. She secured a coveted spot at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA).

Upon graduation, she landed a dream role with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). Here, she tackled the classics, appearing in productions like “Measure for Measure” and “The Winter’s Tale.”

The 1990s marked a turning point. she landed her first major film role in Mike Leigh’s “Life is Sweet,” a quirky and insightful look at a working-class family. She continued this collaboration with Leigh in his critically acclaimed film “Naked” (1993).

While building her film career, Skinner never abandoned the stage. Her talent was recognised with a prestigious London Critics Circle Theatre Award for Best Actress in 1995 for her performance in “The Glass Menagerie.” But it was television that would propel her to national fame.

In 2000, Claire Skinner landed the role that would define her career: Sue Brockman in the BBC sitcom “Outnumbered.” The show ran for five seasons, depicting the chaotic yet endearing lives of the Brockman family. Skinner’s portrayal of the perpetually exasperated yet loving mother Sue resonated with audiences across the UK. For her performance, she was nominated for a BAFTA TV Award for Best Female Comedy Performance in 2009.

Claire Skinner married actor Charlie Palmer in 2001 and together they had two sons. However, the couple divorced in 2016. She is now in a relationship with her co-star from “Outnumbered”, Hugh Dennis.


Suggested viewing


Outnumbered (2007)

Outnumbered poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 8.1

A harried couple tackle the daily battles of raising three opinionated children. Between sibling squabbles, school woes and disastrous social events, the parents struggle to maintain their sanity (and dignity) while holding onto the love that binds their chaotic family.

Top cast: Hugh Dennis, Claire Skinner, Tyger Drew-Honey, Daniel Roche, Ramona Marquez, Samantha Bond, David Ryall, Rosalind Ayres, Hattie Morahan.


Life Is Sweet (1990)

Life Is Sweet poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 7.4

A working-class London family juggles dreams and disappointments. The father pursues a risky food venture, the twins grapple with contrasting outlooks and the mother anchors them all with love and practicality, offering a bittersweet portrait of life’s messy beauty.

Top cast: Alison Steadman, Jim Broadbent, Timothy Spall, Claire Skinner, Jane Horrocks, David Thewlis, Moya Brady, Stephen Read, David Neilson.


Naked (1993)

Naked (1993) poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 7.7

Fleeing a dark act, a volatile man crashes with an ex-girlfriend, embarking on a hostile odyssey through London. He spouts philosophical barbs and targets strangers with his anger, leaving a trail of unease as he searches for meaning or perhaps forgiveness.

Top cast: David Thewlis, Lesley Sharp, Katrin Cartlidge, Claire Skinner, Greg Cruttwell, Peter Wight, Ewen Bremner, Susan Vidler, Gina McKee, Elizabeth Berrington, Toby Jones.


Full filmography (@Wikipedia)


 Claire Skinner Gallery


Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments