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Liverpool Echo March 19,2001

 

Sweeney Spurned By Sadness

 

BROOKSIDE star Claire Sweeney last night revealed the heartache behind her decision to take part in celebrity Big Brother.

The 29-year-old agreed to take part in the Comic Relief version after learning some of the money raised would go to AIDS charities.

One of her best friends, Blackpool musical director Gary Lawson, died of the disease two years ago.

Ms Sweeney, who is a patron of Liverpool-based AIDS charity Sahir House, said: "Gary was my music director when I was working on the cruise ships. I was devastated at his death and that's why I support Sahir House.

"I think people are becoming more knowledgable about AIDS. The days when people thought you could get it from shaking someone's hand are hopefully long gone. Some of the money raised from Comic Relief will go towards AIDS charities and that's why I wanted to take part."

Ms Sweeney who plays Lindsey Corkhill in the Channel Four soap was hot favourite to win the fly-on-the wall gameshow.

But it was deadpan comic Jack Dee, 39, who won, helping to raise more than 22.5m for Comic Relief.

The show itself has raised more than 500,000 over the past week.

Ms Sweeney said she missed her parents the most while she was in the East London house.

"I thought I would miss my mobile phone but I didn't. It was peaceful without it and it saved me a few quid.

"It knocked me for six having to nominate people to leave the house. I'm not that type of person."

Celebrity Big Brother is the latest success story for the actress.

She studied at Liverpool's Elliot Clarke College of Dance and Drama and appeared in a wide range of shows and plays, including a version of the 1960s rock musical Hair for Southport Arts Centre's youth theatre in 1987.

After leaving with a string of O levels and certificates in the performing arts, Ms Sweeney joined the Italia Conti School in London.

She began her career singing in cabaret performances on P&O cruises, including the maiden voyage of the Oriana.

But her big break came when she wrote a letter to Mersey TV in a bid to land a part in Brookside.

The letter arrived as producers were looking to cast the part of Lindsey Corkhill six years ago.

She also earned praise after winning Celebrity Stars in Their Eyes last year with an impressive imitation of Celine Dion.

And Ms Sweeney's successful appearance on celebrity Big Brother, which included an impromptu song which showcased her powerful singing voice, has brought her to the attention of top agents.

It is reported that Lord Lloyd-Webber's Really Useful Group is keen to sign her up.