She also starred in the all-important first series of Celebrity Big Brother, and when she's not on the stage and screen does her bit for Macmillan Cancer Care.
This month, she's hooked up with coffee brand Kenco to help promote their coffee mornings in support of Macmillan. We got in touch to ask her all about it.
What are these Kenco Coffee Mornings all about?
"Kenco have gone into partnership with Macmillan Cancer Care - you register and the money that's raised goes to pay for Macmillan nurses. A nurse on average costs £25 an hour - so if you raise £100 you can get a nurse for two hours, which can make a big difference to someone's wellbeing, their health.
"Last year over £10 million was raised, so we're looking to improve it this year. The thing about cancer is that it's a disease that affects us all. I've got a pal who's 22 who's got it. I've got another pal who's 40 and another pal in his 60s. It's right across the board, all age groups. It's quite terrifying."
How did you get involved in it?
"I've done a lot of work for Macmillan over the years - hosted their quiz, gone to their events, done shoots for them. They asked me to get involved with this to raise awareness and that was great."
You've recently finished a run of Educating Rita, what was that like?
"I'm a Scouser, I'm from Liverpool, so our hero was always Willy Russell. To be playing one of his heroines was so fantastic - it was absolutely brilliant."
What was Matthew Kelly like to work with?
"He's a wonderful actor - he's an Olivier Award-winning, absolutely brilliant actor. The good thing is, to spend two hours on stage every night with someone, to live with them - which is what we were doing - and to share dressing rooms; we didn't have a cross word in five months! It was absolutely brilliant."
You were on the much classier first series of Celebrity Big Brother...
"Well, listen, I loved this series, don't knock it!"
But it seems a very different show from the one you were on...
"Actually, I'll be honest with you. The Big Brother I did is actually closer to this one than it has been for a few years. It got very cruel, it got very vindictive, it got very manipulative. This one was all about glamour and fun tasks. They brought the fun back into it, which is what it was all about when we did it for Comic Relief."
Would you go on I'm a Celebrity... or something similar?
"I don't know. Never say never. I get obsessed with the jungle, I absolutely love it, but I've got a massive phobia of worms and maggots and all that stuff. I'm absolutely terrified of them. Never say never, but... I will watch it - I bloody love it."
What other projects have you got on the go?
"I've got a fashion range. We're on to the third season now which is doing really well. It's clothes for women sized 12-32 - a lot of big ladies feel restricted with what they can wear, but they don't have to be. They can wear glamorous dresses, lovely trouser suits, lovely outfits.
"I wanted to do the perfect capsule wardrobe, because I live out of a suitcase when I've been travelling and this is what we've done really. We've just done the autumn/winter range, which is lovely Christmas items. It's gorgeous. I'm very, very proud of it."
Are too many ranges for sizes that are too small?
"There's a market for everyone. I walk around Liverpool now and I see loads of gorgeous, young, skinny birds looking fabulous. They probably wouldn't fit in my clothes, so I think there is a market for everyone. I've been very hands-on with it, helping the designers with the fabrics and the cut and everything, I'm very proud of it."
Would you ever return to Loose Women in a regular role?
"It would be lovely, time permitting. I really enjoyed it. I last did it a few months ago and it was really great to see all the girls again."
As a Scouser, what were your thoughts on the Hillsborough report this week?
"It's absolutely shocking, the facts that have been revealed. And horrifying. The facts have come out now and everyone can see what really happened and the truth has been revealed. Justice has been served really."
We couldn't help but notice that your surname is Sweeney, and your celeb crush Ray Winstone is in The Sweeney...
"He is! I went to see it, I went to the premiere. I was in the same room as him!"
Did you go and talk to him?
"No, I was a bit shy - I was with my gorgeous hunk of a boyfriend. But the movie is fantastic, and it was really surreal being photographed on a red carpet with The Sweeney written on it - that was very funny."
Claire Sweeney has teamed up with Kenco, the official coffee partner for Macmillan's World's Biggest Coffee Morning, to encourage everyone to sign up for their very own coffee morning on September 28. To register visit Macmillan's Kenco page.
The World's Biggest Coffee Morning encourages friends, family and colleagues to get together and enjoy a coffee and a slice of cake to help raise over £10.8million for Macmillan Cancer Support.