She trained at the Manchester Polytechnic School of Theatre and, at Liverpool's Everyman Theatre, originated the title role of the play Shirley Valentine, later made famous by Pauline Collins. She was seen in the BBC television series Life on Mars, as WPC Phyllis Dobbs, the desk officer.
She had previously played the roles of Kathy Roach in Channel 4's Brookside 1988-1990, Lynne Harrison in Granada Television's Albion Market 1985-1986, and been a star on the long running Granada TV sitcom, Watching.
She has directed episodes of the top rated ITV1 soap opera, Coronation Street, as well as Channel 4's dramedy, Shameless, ITV1 series Emmerdale and Heartbeat and BBC Scotland's River City.
In 2008, she directed the feature film Act of Grace.