Claire Skinner

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Claire Skinner
Born1965 (age 56–57)
Alma materLondon Academy of Music and Dramatic Art
Years active1988–present
(m. 2001⁠–⁠2016)
Partner(s)Hugh Dennis (2017–present)

Claire Skinner (born 1965)[2][3] is an English actress, known in the United Kingdom for her television career, particularly playing Sue Brockman from the BBC television series Outnumbered.

Early life[edit]

Claire Skinner was born and brought up in Hemel Hempstead, the youngest daughter of a shopkeeper and an Irish-born secretary, and was shy as a child.[4] Her dream was to be an actress and she immersed herself in her ambition. She acted, neglecting school work at Cavendish School, and "barely scraped through [her] A-levels".[4] She went on to study at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and then joined the Royal Shakespeare Company.[5]


Her first role was in Hanky Park, by Walter Greenwood at the Oldham Repertory Theatre, which she describes as a "really traditional start". She is best known as Clare on the British television comedy Life Begins and as Lucinda, the sous chef in the first series of Chef! alongside Lenny Henry. From 2007 to 2014, she portrayed Sue Brockman in the sitcom Outnumbered. For many years, she has preferred theatre to screen roles because she has been disappointed with her TV projects ("apart from Mike Leigh's stuff"), "not just when you see the final thing, but also because it hasn't taken off."[6]

Skinner has worked with directors including Mike Leigh – in Life Is Sweet, and NakedTrevor Nunn, Tim Burton and Sam Mendes, but according to her, Alan Ayckbourn "was a great influence for me as he pushed me so hard, but every director you work with has a big influence in some way, they really push you."[7]

She has made appearances in TV shows such as Lark Rise to Candleford where for two episodes she played Mrs Macey. She appeared in the 2011 Doctor Who Christmas special "The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe".[8]

In 2019, she played Sheila in A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, which ran in Trafalgar Studios in the West End from September to November.[9]

Personal life[edit]

She has two sons with director Charles Palmer; William John (born 1999) and Henry Thomas (born 2002).[3] Their marriage ended in 2016.[10] She is in a relationship with Outnumbered co-star Hugh Dennis.[11]



Year Title Role Notes
1989 The Rachel Papers Gloria
1990 Life Is Sweet Natalie
1993 Naked Sandra
1994 The Return of the Native Thomasin TV film
1995 I.D. Marie
1995 Clockwork Mice Fairy
1999 You're Dead Jo
1999 The Escort Patricia Original Title: Mauvaise Passe
1999 Sleepy Hollow Beth Killian
2001 Bridget Jones's Diary Magda
2003 The Booze Cruise Leone Sewell TV film
2003 Eroica Josephine Deym TV film
2004 Strings Jhinna English version, voice actress
2005 Class of '76 Dr. Kate Tremaine Tv film
2006 The Family Man Natalie Simpson TV film
2007 The Trial of Tony Blair Nicky TV film
2007 You Can Choose Your Friends Jane Arden TV film
2007 And When Did You Last See Your Father? Gillian
2008 The Commander: Abduction Fiona TV film
2011 Eliminate: Archie Cookson Camilla


Year Title Role Notes
1988 South of the Border Laura Episode: Season 1, Episode 7
1989 Inspector Morse Girl Pupil Episode: Ghost in the Machine
1992 Woof! Liz Episode: Badgers
1993 Chef! Lucinda Season 1 regular
1994 Screen One Linda Episode: Two Golden Balls
1995 Capital Lives Alice Episode: “In Cahoots”
1995 Coogan's Run Frances Episode: The Curator
1997 The Wingless Bird Agnes Conway Catherine Cookson TV mini-series
1997 Brass Eye Board Member/Martha O'Dennell/Helly Melvick/Mrs. Wastrey TV Mini-Series, 3 episodes
1997 A Dance to the Music of Time Jean TV mini-series
1997–2000 The Peter Principle Susan Harvey Series regular
1999 Second Sight DI Catherine Tully Series regular
2001 Perfect Strangers Rebecca TV mini-series
2001 Bedtime Sarah Newcombe Season 1 regular
2001 Swallow Gail Collins TV mini-series
2003 Trevor's World of Sport Meryl TV Series, 7 episodes
2004 The Genius of Mozart Nannerl Mozart TV mini-series documentary
2004 Murphy's Law Alice Episode: “Go Ask Alice”
2004–2006 Life Begins Clare Series regular
2005 Agatha Christie's Miss Marple Amy Murgatroyd Episode: “A Murder Is Announced”
2006–2007 Rupert Bear Voice actress
2007 Kingdom Brenda Collins Episode: Season 1, Episode 5
2007–2016 Outnumbered Sue Brockman Series regular
2008 Sense and Sensibility Fanny Dashwood TV mini-series, 3 episodes
2008 Lark Rise to Candleford Mrs. Macey TV Series, 2 episodes
2008 Burn Up Clare TV mini-series, 2 episodes
2008 Agatha Christie's Poirot Miss Rich Episode: “Cat Among the Pigeons”
2009 Trinity Dr. Angela Donne TV Series, 8 episodes
2010 Moving On Mary Ann Episode: Skies of Glass
2011 Doctor Who Madge Arwell Episode: "The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe"
2012 Tilly and Friends Tumpty 2 episodes
2012 Homefront Claire Marshbrook TV mini-series
2013 Playhouse Presents Linda Episode: Mr Understood
2013 The One About a Social Worker Liz TV mini-series
2014 Silk Sarah Stephens Episode: Season 3, Episode 3
2015 Critical Lorraine Rappaport Series regular
2015 Inside No. 9 Angela Episode: Nana's Party
2015–2017 Scream Street Sue Watson, Luella & Others Series regular
2016 Power Monkeys Sara TV mini-series, 6 episodes
2017 Midsomer Murders Kitty Oswood Episode: “Death by Persuasion”
2018 Next of Kin DCI Vivien Barnes TV mini-series, 6 episodes
2018 Hilda Series regular
2018 Vanity Fair Mrs. Louisa Sedley TV mini-series
2020 The Pale Horse Yvonne Tuckerton TV mini-series
2021 Ted Lasso Dentist Series 2 Episode 4





  1. ^ "Claire Skinner". Woman's Hour. 1 September 2010. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  2. ^ "Claire Skinner – National Portrait Gallery". Retrieved 3 July 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Claire Skinner: '50 does not look like a woman in a cardigan'". The Observer. 20 September 2015. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  4. ^ a b Bassett, Kate (25 January 2009). "Mommy dearest: Claire Skinner transforms into a monster of a mother" (Press release). London: The Independent. Retrieved 10 February 2009.
  5. ^ Brennan, Patricia (4 December 1994). "A Beauty, a Rogue and a Good Man". The Washington Post (Press release).
  6. ^ "The Family Way: Claire Skinner warms to her role in Poliakoff's new drama" (Press release). Time Out–London: Plugged In section, by Emma Perry. May 2001.
  7. ^ "BBC The Boss Series Press Release" (PDF) (Press release). BBC. 2000. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 May 2006.
  8. ^ "Doctor Who, Christmas special, BBC One, review". The Daily Telegraph. 25 December 2011. Retrieved 25 December 2011.
  9. ^ Galton, Bridget (2 October 2019). "Preview – A Day in the Death of Joe Egg". Ham&High. Archived from the original on 4 October 2019.
  10. ^ "Outnumbered actress Claire Skinner confirms romance with co-star Hugh Dennis". Hello!. 2 May 2020. Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  11. ^ Todd, Lucy (2 July 2018). "Six on-screen turned real-life couples". BBC News. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  12. ^ "Mrs.Affleck: National Theatre (2009)". Archived from the original on 16 December 2008.
  13. ^ "Blurred Lines". National Theatre. Archived from the original on 3 February 2014.
  14. ^ "The Father | Tricycle". Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  15. ^ "Mike Leigh, film and television credits".[dead link]
  16. ^ "Critics' Circle Theatre Awards for 1995". Albemarle of London. Archived from the original on 18 February 2008.
  17. ^ "Donmar Warehouse List of Awards for The Glass Menagerie-Time Out Award for 1995". Archived from the original on 20 October 2008.
  18. ^ "Olivier Winners 1996". Archived from the original on 24 January 2009.
  19. ^ "BAFTA 2009". 24 March 2009.

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