Her family lived in Darlington for two years during the 1980s, where Craney attended Hummersknott School. She attended Stapleford Community Primary School, Sawston Village College and Long Road Sixth Form College in Cambridgeshire, and went on to study English and drama at Liverpool Hope University, graduating in 1992. She trained in Acting and Musical Theatre at the Central School of Speech and Drama, graduating in 1995.
Craney has appeared in the Mike Leigh films Topsy-Turvy (1999), All or Nothing (2002) and Vera Drake (2004), for which she was nominated for the 2005 BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. Her other film credits include Drinking Crude (1997), Loop (1997) and Dangerous Parking (2007).
On television, Craney played Alison Weaver in the sitcom Life of Riley, and Cheryl Matthews in EastEnders. She also played Emily Holroyd in the Torchwood episode "Fragments". She has also appeared in Silent Witness, The Bill, Holby City and the television films The Mark of Cain and Ahead of the Class.
|1998||Silent Witness||DI's Receptionist||2 episodes: Divided Loyalties: Parts One and Two|
|2002||The Bill||Kirsty||1 episode: Episode 058|
|2005||Ahead of the Class||Nadine||Television film|
|2005||Holby City||Melissa Finch||1 episode: Bird on a Wire|
|2007||The Mark of Cain||Brenda Tate||Television film|
|2007||Coming Up||Sarah||1 episode: In the Dark|
|2007||Holby City||Amy Bonner||1 episode: Lovers and Madmen|
|2008||Torchwood||Emily Holroyd||1 episode: Fragments|
|2009–11||Life of Riley||Alison Weaver||Series regular|
|2010||Holby City||Lucy Weir||3 episodes: Future Shock, Losing Game, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year|
|2011||EastEnders||Cheryl Matthews||6 episodes|
|2002||All or Nothing||Silent Passenger|
|2003||" Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl "||Young Elizabeth Swann|
|2004||Vera Drake||Joyce Drake||Nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role|
|2004||Tales of the Fourth Dimension||Short film|
|1996||Death of an Elephant||Orange Tree Theatre||Sandra|
|1999||Dangerous Corner||Watford Palace Theatre||Olwen|
|2000||Passion Play||Donmar Warehouse||Rebecca / Ruth|
|2004||Still Life / The Astonished Heart||Liverpool Playhouse||Dolly Messiter|
|2005||Stoning Mary||Royal Court Theatre||Ego|
|2006||Sugar Mummies||Royal Court Theatre||Kitty|
|2007||I Like Mine with a Kiss||Bush Theatre||Annie|
|2007||Joe Guy||Soho Theatre||Monique Christie / Helen Blake|
|2010||Women, Power and Politics||Tricycle Theatre||Mags / Kim|
|2014||Made in Dagenham||Adelphi Theatre||Clare|
|2017||Consent||Royal National Theatre||Gayle|
- "Heather to star at the Baftas". Cambridge News. 20 January 2005. Retrieved 12 August 2009.
- "Ex-student shines in acclaimed film". Cambridge News. 10 January 2005. Retrieved 12 August 2009.
- Profile – Heather Craney Mandy Actors; retrieved 12 August 2009.
- "Consent". Royal National Theatre. Retrieved 8 April 2017.