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Claire Skinner (born 1965) is an English actress, known in the United Kingdom for her television career, particularly playing Sue Brockman from the BBC television series Outnumbered.
Born and brought up in Hemel Hempstead, Lauren Claire Skinner, the youngest daughter of a shopkeeper and an Irish-born secretary, was shy as a child. 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". She went on to study at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and then joined the Royal Shakespeare Company.
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 season of Chef! alongside Lenny Henry. From 2007 to 2014 she portrayed Sue Brockman in the BBC's award-winning sitcom Outnumbered. For many years, she has preferred theatre to screen roles because she's 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."
Skinner has worked with directors including Mike Leigh,- in Life is Sweet, and Naked - Trevor Nunn, Tim Burton and Sam Mendes, but she remembers one particular director, Alan Ayckbourn, when she started out: "He 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."
She has also made small 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".
She is married to director Charles Palmer, the son of actor Geoffrey Palmer; the couple have two sons.