Jackie Clune is the third of four children born in Harlow, Essex, to Irish Roman Catholic parents: her late father, Don Clune (died August 2010), was a buyer for a computer firm, her mother a nurse. The writer Maggie Clune is her sister. Jackie Clune graduated with a degree in drama from the University of Kent.
On graduation from university, she became a full-time drama lecturer at the Royal Holloway College for at least six years and a BBC London radio journalist. She started singing in bands part-time, but between sets as a DJ she developed a facility in chatting to the audience. This led a friend to suggest that she could create a Karen Carpenter tribute performance, with singing; this she worked on and took to the Edinburgh Festival in 1995, where she was spotted by a West End producer.
Giving up her lecturing career, she co-founded the Red Rag Women’s Theatre Company, and fell into stand-up comedy while working at the Hackney Empire. She has worked in many London venues. Her many credits include the BBC soap drama EastEnders and also ITV's The Bill. Since hosting the Stonewall Society equality shows at the Royal Albert Hall, she has developed a multi-media career. She has been a TV/radio panellist on many shows, not least Front Row, QI, Never Mind the Buzzcocks, What the Dickens? and The Staying-in Show and has been invited onto shows like Loose Women.
She had a part in Showstopper (1997), Bryony Lavery's play A Wedding Story (1999) and portrayed Julie Burchill, at the time a columnist for The Guardian, in the one-woman play Julie Burchill Is Away by Tim Fountain at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and in the West End (2003). In 2006-7, she played the lead female role of Donna in the Abba songs-based musical Mamma Mia! international tour until 17 March 2007. On 4 June 2007, she went into musicals and took over the role of the dance teacher Mrs. Wilkinson in Billy Elliot the Musical in London. She gave her final performance on 22 November 2008 prior to rejoining the Mamma Mia! International Tour (2009–2011) again as leading role Donna which was the role interpreted by Meryl Streep in the film.
She sang the theme tune of, and contributed material to, the popular alternative TV show Smack the Pony. After becoming involved in the revival of the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Don Black musical Tell Me On A Sunday, she met Denise van Outen with whom she co-wrote the show Blondes, in which van Outen performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August 2009 and in six preview performances at the New End Theatre in Hampstead.
She promoted an album Love Songs (Dress Circle) courtesy of a show at the Soho Theatre in London's West End from 15–17 July 2010, and has also been involved in several musical projects including the 2010 memorial concert for the late Kirsty MacColl, who is remembered through Music for Cuba Fund. She sang with Billy Bragg on that occasion, but has also worked with many celebrities including in the cast of The Vagina Monologues.
Clune has also published two books, Man of the Month Club and Extreme Motherhood, diaries relating how her lifestyle changed when she found herself pregnant with triplets little more than a year after having her first child. She is also a freelance journalist. She contributed a column to the monthly magazine Top Santé magazine in 2013-14.
She performed in 2011 as the outspoken Miss Ogle in the play The Belle's Stratagem, directed by Jessica Swale and a revival of a script by Hannah Cowley from the Georgian period, at the Southwark Playhouse. She has been a regular warm-up act for the Singalonga Sound of Music and the Puppetry of the Penis shows.
In 2012, she toured nationally in the leading role of Amanda, the troubled teacher, in the cast of a controversial and groundbreaking play about bullying and racism issues for teachers, Mogadishu (14+) which received a nomination for the Olivier Awards 2012.
From October 2012 until 24 August 2013, Clune played the role of Violet in the ATG national tour of 9 to 5: The Musical, launched at the Manchester Opera House,.
In 2013-4, she had a role in the successful musical/operetta Candide.
Clune played Glendower and Westmorland in Phyllida Lloyd's new all-female stage production (world premiere) starring Dame Harriet Walter at the Donmar Warehouse of Henry IV (Parts I and II combined, in October–November 2014) which went to St Ann's Warehouse in NY (USA) until December 13, 2015.(Ref: Theatre Media, New York Times etc. and Twitter)
Jackie Clune played Maggie Tan in The Vote (Donmar Warehouse/More 4) in summer 2015, and then had a leading role at the Salisbury Playhouse in Noel Coward's Fallen Angels, a musical period drama, before joining the ensemble in the female-only Henry IV as above. She was also in the Kings Cross Shakespeare trilogy until mid-December 2016. According to the United Agents site, she has been cast for filming in Denial (director Mick Johnson), 2016.
In 2016, Clune co-starred in Borderline as Proctor. The programme is one of the few original comedy shows on Channel 5.
During her 20s and 30s, Clune identified as a lesbian.
In 2001, she met Heartbeat actor and stunt performer Richard Hannant, who was the fire officer at the Arts Theatre where she was performing, and started a relationship with him. Eleven months later she became pregnant with their first child, a daughter. The couple went on to have naturally conceived triplets (2005) and married in 2008. Clune was elected onto the Equity stage actors' committee in July 2013.