Sue Cleaver — things you didn't know about the Coronation Street and I'm A Celebrity star

Sue Cleaver on the red carpet wearing a pink dress.
Sue Cleaver is a Coronation Street fan-favourite. (Image credit: Carla Speight/Getty Images)

Coronation Street favourite Sue Cleaver has swapped the cobbles of Weatherfield for the Australian jungle as she competes in I'm A Celebrity 2022, taking on the infamous Bushtucker Trials.

Sue is best known for her role as the no-nonsense matriarch Eileen Grimshaw in Coronation Street, who she has played for 22 years and has been involved in some of the soap's biggest storylines.

However, what else is there to know about the actress? From starring alongside some huge names in the acting industry, having an unexpected job on the side of Corrie and contracting sepsis, here is everything you need to know about Sue...

Sue Cleaver has a very different job away from the cobbles

When she's not sparring with her enemy Gail Platt (Helen Worth) on the cobbles, Sue has been training for a very different career path in her spare time.

Sue has been working to become a psychotherapist and has even stood in for Denise Robertson as the agony aunt on This Morning.

In an interview with Soaplife magazine, she said: "I am qualified to take clients and have another 18 months to go before I can finish my four-year course in Analysis Psychotherapy at the Manchester Institute for Psychotherapy.

“It’s hard work fitting it in with Corrie, but I love it. It is maybe a bit weird for them at first, but once we start talking, they forget all about it. The novelty wears off. 

"The people come to see me when they have something they want to talk about and when they have a problem. That is what they are concerned about, not who I am.”

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She has acted alongside Johnny Depp

Sue has appeared alongside acting royalty as she had a small part playing a Red Cross woman in the film The Man Who Cried which starred Johnny Depp and Cate Blanchett.

She used to be a dinner lady

Well, sort of! Before Coronation Street, Sue was best known for playing Glenda in Victoria Wood’s comedy show, Dinnerladies. She played the role for two years between 1998 to 2000.

Les Dennis and Sue Cleaver

Sue with her Coronation Street co-star Les Dennis. (Image credit: Dave J Hogan/Dave Hogan/Getty Images)

She met her husband at work

Sue is married to lighting technician Brian Owen, who she met while working on Coronation Street and they live with their dog George Paws.

Before marrying Brian, Sue was married to fellow actor James Quinn for 10 years until they divorced in 2003. James has appeared as four different characters on Coronation Street since 1989, with one of his roles being DS Willets, who was involved in the investigation of Sue's on-screen husband Pat Phelan's (Connor McIntyre) crimes.

She almost died after getting sepsis

In 2019, Sue almost died after being diagnosed with sepsis. During an appearance on This Morning she revealed that she started to feel unwell while filming on the soap but thought it was an IBS flair up.

However, when she returned to work the next day, her condition took a turn for the worse, but didn't realise that she was experiencing the life-threatening infection.

She said: "I went back shooting and it was the hottest day of the year and I was on set with a hot water bottle, shaking, and Melanie Hill turned to me and said, 'Look at your feet.' My feet were just blue and purple and all the goosebumps on my arms. I was in pain and freezing cold, so I went home after lunch, got into bed. I had socks on, leggings, dressing gown, thinking of not only have I got IBS, but I’ve also caught the flu now."

Sue went to hospital after her husband called their daughter-in-law who was a paramedic, which is when she was diagnosed with sepsis.

She explained: "I didn’t know I had sepsis until the next day in the ward. I think it was purely from the kidney infection which was very severe. The biggest lesson for me is we stride on through life, we’ve got commitments and we just put up and get on with things and that is a big mistake."

Sue Cleaver

Sue contracted sepsis and nearly lost her life. (Image credit: Karwai Tang/WireImage)

She is adopted

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While in the I'm A Celebrity jungle, Sue revealed to her campmates that she was adopted and opened up to them about the emotional moment she met her birth mother.

Sue explained that she came across her mum by complete chance when she was 24 and attending drama school. 

She revealed that an actor at The Royal Exchange came up to her and said that she was the spitting image of his wife when he met her. He then asked Sue her date of birth and where she was born, after which the man called his wife and said: "I found her".

His wife was in fact Sue's biological mum, who had given her up for adoption when she had her as a teenager.

The Coronation Street legend also has two half-sisters, who are both in the entertainment industry, and also said her adoptive mother and birth mother get along well.

She was banned from watching Coronation Street as a kid!

“I think it’s hysterical, my father wouldn’t have soaps on in the house, we weren’t even allowed to watch ITV, it’s really embarrassing,” Sue told us. “I wasn’t even allowed to watch Scooby Doo.”

Eileen has finally had enough of Todd's lies.

Sue Cleaver as Eileen Grimshaw in Coronation Street. (Image credit: ITV)

Sue lovers her art

Asked by TV Times what her most treasured possession was, Sue replied: “A large oil painting that’s very special to me. It’s an avant-garde piece from Germany and it’s very big and cost me a lot of money. I do like art and I’d like to collect more.”

She is a little bit in love with Venice!

Describing her perfect day, she said: “I’d get a flight early in the morning from Manchester and arrive in Venice about one o’clock. I’d mooch around, have a few drinks, then have dinner at the Cipriani, which is a famous hotel on Venice harbour. I’ve been there before and love it.”

Sue Cleaver for I'm A Celebrity

Sue Cleaver in I'm A Celebrity 2022. (Image credit: ITV)

Sue’s favourite drink is champagne!

And she likes a certain brand, Billecart-Salmon champagne!

Sue Cleaver's fact file

Frequently asked questions about the star...

How old is Sue Cleaver?

Sue Cleaver is 59 years old, she was born on 2nd September 1963. 

Her age was one of the reasons she signed up to I'm A Celebtrity, telling ITV: “I have just turned 59 and so I decided for my 59th, I was going to shake things up a bit. I realised I needed something that would challenge me and I thought this show would be good — and so that’s why I am doing it.”

Who is Sue Cleaver's husband?

Sue Cleaver married Brian Owen after they met while working together on Coronation Street. 

Does Sue Cleaver have any children?

Sue Cleaver and her ex-husband James Quinn have a son together called Elliot, who was reportedly born in 1998.

Where is Sue Cleaver from?

Sue Cleaver was born in Barnet, Hertfordshire.

How tall is Sue Cleaver?

Sue Cleaver is 5 foot 10.

Instagram: @officialsuecleaver (opens in new tab)

We work hard to ensure that all information is correct. Facts that change over time, such as age, will be correct, to the best of our knowledge, at the time of the last article update.

Grace Morris
Staff Writer

Grace is a digital writer with WhatToWatch.com, where she writes series guides for must-watch shows and the latest TV news. She graduated from Anglia Ruskin University in 2020 with a degree in Writing and Film Studies, which only made her love for creative writing, film and TV grow stronger.


You'll usually find her watching the drama unfold in the latest reality series and much-loved soaps (usually with chocolate by her side!). Grace also likes to explore new places with her friends and family and, of course, watch and read about the latest films and TV series.