Sue Cleaver was born on 2nd September 1963 in London. She moved to Manchester in the late 1970s and for a period lived in Canada. She became a qualified remedial massage therapist and trained mezzo soprano but also studied drama at the Manchester Polytechnic School of Theatre, making her television debut in an episode of A Touch of Frost in 1994. She also played bread delivery driver Glenda in Victoria Wood's BBC Sitcom Dinnerladies, from 1998-2000 and featured in Sky One comedy Harry Enfield's Brand Spanking New Show in 2000.
She met her current partner, Brian Owen, on the set where he worked as a lighting technician, and she has a son, Elliot, who was born in 1998.