Born in Glasgow as Claire Patricia Grogan on 17 March 1962. Both she and her two sisters attended the Notre Dame Convent School.
Whilst working as a waitress at the Spaghetti Factory restaurant in Glasgow, she was spotted by film director Bill Forsyth. He casted her for the film ‘Gregory’s girl’. Just three months before filming, she was at the Pollok Inn, a public house in Glasgow. A fight broke out between several patrons. A broken bottle was hurled in her direction as she was fleeing, and she was left severely injured with a prominent scar on the left side of her face. In light of her severe facial wound, despite objections from the producers, Forsyth refused to recast the role and Grogan was filmed mostly profile. When filmed in close up, makeup artists covered Grogan’s scar with mortician’s wax.
Around the same time, Grogan developed her singing career as the lead singer of Altered Images, originally a five-piece that included Johnny McElhone (later of the Scottish rock band Texas). The band had a string of hits in the early 1980s, including ‘Happy Birthday’, ‘Don’t Talk to Me About Love’, ‘I Could Be Happy’ and ‘See Those Eyes’. The group split up after the release of their third album, ‘Bite’ (1983).
A year later Grogan resumed her acting career, playing Charlotte in Forsyth’s Comfort and Joy. In 1985 she was the receptionist in the BBC Television version of ‘Blott on the Landscape’. She had a recurring role playing Dave Lister’s would-be love-interest, Kristine Kochanski, in series 1, 2 and 6 of the TV show Red Dwarf. In series 7 she was replaced by Chloë Annett. Grogan has also appeared in Father Ted (episode ‘Rock-a-Hula Ted’) as a feminist rock singer and in EastEnders as Ian Beale’s love interest, Ros Thorne (1997–1998).
In 2002, Grogan performed as Altered Images on the Here and Now Christmas Party. She performed on similar tours in 2005, 2008 and 2009. On 18 December 2015, Clare Grogan was a special guest at Kim Wilde’s Christmas Party concert in London.
Grogan married Altered Images band mate Stephen Lironi in Glasgow in 1994. The couple live in Haringey, and in 2005 they adopted a daughter.
Kim about Clare Grogan
I can say lovely Clare Grogan now, but in 1981 I was so jealous of her, she kept nicking all the covers of the Smash Hits and all the magazines I was trying to get on the cover of. I suppose all these years later I can concede that she was a great popstar. (1)
I used to be really jealous of Clare Grogan but only because I thought she was gorgeous and I loved the band and I bought her records but I wouldn’t say there was any real rivalry. (1)
Clare Grogan about Kim
So everyone around me was going ‘Go for it’ and so I had a conversation with Kim Wilde, and I said to her ‘Kim, the thing is, I’m forty… I’m not going to get up and sing ‘Happy Birthday’ at forty!’, and she just said ‘Clare, I’m up there singing ‘Kids in America… why are you prejudicing yourself like that?’ and I just though she was absolutely right, I’m not an ageist person so why was I being ageist to my own self? (3)
It was actually Kim who twisted my arm to do [the Here and Now tours] because at first I wasn’t sure if it was something I could re-create. By that time I was in my forties, and I thought, is it appropriate to be singing Happy Birthday aged 40? Then I thought, why not? There’s something kind of liberating about it, getting to revisit your past on your own terms. I hadn’t sung the songs for 18 years, so it was a huge thing for me. It’s fun – I kind of like being able to reclaim it all. (4)
(1) Not fade away, VH1 (UK), January 1997
(2) Interview, Top of the Pops website (UK), January 2002
(3) Altered Images (Clare Grogan) Interview , This is not retro website (UK), 2002
(4) Interview: Belinda Carlisle and Clare Grogan, OK! (UK), 9 November 2010