Maxine Peake

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Maxine Peake
Born (1974-07-14) 14 July 1974 (age 40)[1]
Bolton, England, UK[2]
Occupation Actress
Years active 1996–present
Parent(s) Brian and Glynis Peake

Maxine Peake (born 14 July 1974) is an English stage, film and television actress known for playing Twinkle in Victoria Wood's sitcom dinnerladies, Veronica in Channel 4's Manchester-based drama series Shameless,[3] barrister Martha Costello QC in BBC legal drama Silk[4] and, most recently, Grace Middleton in The Village. She is also an accomplished stage actress, and co-starred in the 2014 film The Theory of Everything.

Early life[edit]

Born in Westhoughton (Bolton), Peake is the second of two daughters born to Brian and Glynis Peake (née Hall).[5] Her father was a lorry driver before working in the electrical industry, her mother a part-time careworker; Lisa, her elder sister by nine years, is a police officer.[5] Her parents separated when Peake was nine and she lived with her mother until the age of 15. When her mother moved in with a new boyfriend several miles away, she went to live with her grandfather so she could continue her GCSE studies at Westhoughton High School, before going on to take her A-Levels at Canon Slade School, Bradshaw near Bolton. Her grandfather encouraged her to develop her creativity and start acting.

Peake joined the Octagon Youth Theatre, Bolton, at 13, before a period at the youth theatre of the Royal Exchange, Manchester. She later attended the University of Salford leaving after two years. During this time she appeared in productions with two leading amateur theatre companies in Bolton: The Marco Players and the Phoenix Theatre Company. Peake was a member of the Communist Party.[6]

In her teens Peake was a representative for Wigan Ladies rugby league team.[7]

Peake's early attempts to enter the acting profession were unsuccessful. She was rejected by every theatre education company in North West England,[8] and tried unsuccessfully for three years to get into Manchester Polytechnic Theatre School and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.[5] However, at 21, she obtained a place at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Her attempts to find sponsorship for RADA were the subject of a 1996 documentary by the South Bank Show; eventually, after being put forward by RADA, she was awarded the Patricia Rothermere Scholarship.[3][9]


Peake has appeared in a number of television and stage productions including Channel 4's Shameless, Victoria Wood's dinnerladies and Craig Cash's Early Doors as Janice. Between the two series of dinnerladies, following career advice from Victoria Wood, Peake lost so much weight that an explanation had to be written into the script for her character, Twinkle.[3]

In 2006, Peake portrayed the Moors murderer Myra Hindley in See No Evil: The Moors Murders.[10] See No Evil was broadcast in May 2006, and met with mixed reactions; soon after this Peake announced that she was quitting Shameless.

Also in 2006, Peake appeared in On the Third Day the resultant play in Channel 4's The Play's the Thing televised competition.[11]

In 2007, she played Tracey Temple in the TV drama Confessions of a Diary Secretary, which told the story of John Prescott's affair with his secretary. On 17 January 2008, she was the Cinderella character in the BBC's Fairy Tales series. On 26 March 2008, she starred in Hancock and Joan, a drama in BBC Four's Curse of Comedy series. She played Joan Le Mesurier, wife of actor John Le Mesurier, who had an affair with comedian Tony Hancock shortly after she and Le Mesurier were married. Also in 2008, she played Miss Wade in the BBC adaptation of Little Dorrit and Elizabeth Lilburne in The Devil's Whore.

January 2009 saw Peake appear in her first major feature film role, as Angela in the film Clubbed, as well as in the Channel 4 trilogy Red Riding. In 2010 Peake played the titular character in The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister and in 2011 took the lead role of barrister Martha Costello in the BBC's legal drama, Silk.

She played the title role in a 2012 production of Miss Julie at the Royal Exchange, Manchester.[12] She previously played the part of Kristin in a 2000 production.[13] Also in 2012, she played Doll Tearsheet in the BBC2 adaptations of Henry IV, Parts I and II.[14]

In November 2012, a play that Peake had written and directed about the life of the Leeds born cyclist Beryl Burton and starring herself in the main role was broadcast on BBC Radio Four.[15]

Peake provided the vocals for the Eccentronic Research Council's 2012 concept album '1612 Underture' about the Pendle Witch Trials.[16]

She starred alongside John Simm in the BBC drama The Village, depicting life in a Derbyshire village during World War I.[17] She was nominated for a BAFTA in the leading actress category for her performance.[18] She will reprise her role in the second series, set in the 1920s.[19]

In September 2013 Peake was appointed an Associate Artist of the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester. She has been associated with the theatre since her childhood and was a member of the youth theatre. She has performed in several major productions there including The Children's Hour in 2008 for which she won a MEN Award and Miss Julie in 2012 for which she won a Manchester Theatre Award. All her performances at the Royal Exchange have been directed by Sarah Frankcom with whom she also collaborated on The Masque of Anarchy in 2012 for the Manchester International Festival. From 11 September to 20 October 2014 she will play the title character in a radical re-imagining of Hamlet, again directed by Sarah Frankcom at the Royal Exchange.[20] The demand for tickets was so great that the production was extended for a week, having been "the theatre’s fastest selling show in a decade".[21]

In January 2014, Peake won the first Bolton Socialist Club Outstanding Contribution to Socialism Award for using her work to oppose the government's "crippling austerity measures".[22]


Year Film Role Notes
1996 Hetty Wainthropp Investigates Photocopy Assistant TV series (1 episode: "Fingers")
1998 Girls' Night Sharon
Picking Up the Pieces Lucy TV series (1 episode: "Episode No. 1.7")
dinnerladies Twinkle TV series (16 episodes: 1998–2000)
1999 Sunburn Sue TV series (1 episode: "Episode No. 1.5")
Coronation Street Belinda Peach TV series (1 episode: "Episode No. 1.46352")
Jonathan Creek Marion Cretiss TV series (1 episode: "The Curious Tale of Mr. Spearfish")
2000 Clocking Off Marie Leach TV series (1 episode: "The Leaches' Story")
2001 The Way We Live Now Ruby Ruggles TV mini-series (4 episodes)
Linda Green Receptionist TV series (1 episode: "Fitness Freak")
2002 All or Nothing Party Girl
Hamilton Mattress Lulu (voice) short
Holby City Tanya Wilton TV series (1 episode: "Pawns in the Game: Part 1")
Dalziel and Pascoe Dr. Allison Laurie TV series (1 episode: "Mens Sana")
2003 At Home with the Braithwaites Trixie Fletcher TV series (1 episode: "Episode No. 4.3")
Early Doors Janice TV series (4 episodes)
2004 Christmas Lights Pauline TV film
Shameless Veronica Fisher TV series (27 episodes: 2004–2007)
2005 Be Mine Tina's Mum short
Faith Linda TV film
Frozen Ticket Attendant
Stealing Up Daughter short
Messiah: The Harrowing DS Vickie Clarke TV mini-series
2006 See No Evil: The Moors Murders Myra Hindley TV film
The Madness of the Dance The Professor short
2007 Confessions of a Diary Secretary Tracey Temple TV film
I Am Bob Marilyn Monroe short
Would Like to Meet Heather short
2008 Bike Squad WPC Kate McFay TV film
Fairy Tales Cindy Mellor TV series (1 episode: "Cinderella")
Hancock & Joan Joan Le Mesurier TV film
Nominated—BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress
Placebo Dr. Sian Nuttall TV film
Clubbed Angela
The Devil's Whore Elizabeth Liliburne TV mini-series (4 episodes)
Little Dorrit Miss Wade TV mini-series (7 episodes)
2009 Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1980 Helen Marshall TV film
Agatha Christie's Marple - They Do It with Mirrors Jolly Bellever TV film
The Street Madeleine Broadcasting Press Guild Award for Best Actress
Criminal Justice Juliet Miller TV series (5 episodes)
2010 The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister Anne Lister TV film
Alice short
Edge Elly
2011 Silk Martha Costello TV series (series 1, 6 episodes)
Room at the Top Alice Aisgill
Best Laid Plans
2012 Silk Martha Costello TV series (series 2, 6 episodes)
Nominated – Broadcasting Press Guild Award for Best Actress
Henry IV, Parts I and II Doll Tearsheet TV dramas, part of the series The Hollow Crown
Private Peaceful Hazel Peaceful
2013 The Village Grace Middleton TV series (series 1, 6 episodes)
Nominated – British Academy Television Award for Best Actress
Run & Jump Vanetia Casey Feature film
2014 Silk Martha Costello TV series (series 3, 6 episodes)
The Village Grace Middleton TV series (series 2, 6 episodes)
The Theory of Everything Elaine Mason Feature film


Radio drama[edit]

  • Guilty Until Proved Innocent (2009), Dina[25]
  • This Repulsive Woman (2010), Deborah Hurst[26]
  • Craven (2012), Sue Craven [27]
  • La Yorkshire Dame a Bicyclette (2012), Beryl Burton[15]
  • My Dad Keith (2014), Steph[28]


  1. ^ Philby, Charlotte (8 March 2008). "My Secret Life: Maxine Peake, actress, 33". The Independent. 
  2. ^ General Register Office – Births Index – Year: 1974. Quarter: Jul/Aug/Sep. Child's Name: Peake, Maxine. Mother's Maiden surname: Hall. District: Bolton. Volume: 38. Page: 0323.
  3. ^ a b c Mitchison, Amanda (15 May 2010). "Maxine Peake: The Misfit". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 June 2014. 
  4. ^ Deans, Jason (13 July 2010). "Maxine Peake to star in BBC1 legal drama Silk". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 June 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c Paton, Maureen (9 November 2007). "Maxine Peake: From rugby league to starring actress". Daily Mail. 
  6. ^ "When I was much younger I used to be a member of the Communist Party although nowadays I don’t really have a political affiliation to any party" Maxine Peake interview, "Lancashire Life" January 2012. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  7. ^ "From running on rugby league fields to acting on the Hollywood big screen". Fox Sports. 11 December 2013. Retrieved 11 December 2013. 
  8. ^ Raphael, Amy (3 October 2009). "Justice at last for Maxine Peake". The Guardian. 
  9. ^ Jones, Alice (22 June 2006). "Maxine Peake: Onward and upward". The Independent. 
  10. ^ "Return to the Moors" Manchester Evening News, 4 May 2006
  11. ^ "The Play's the Thing" Channel 4
  12. ^ "Miss Julie Cast List, Royal Exchange Theatre". Retrieved 2012-03-03. 
  13. ^ "Eccleston Woos Miss Julie at Haymarket", What's on Stage, 19 January 2000. Retrieved 2012-03-05.
  14. ^ "Cast confirmed for BBC Two's cycle of Shakespeare films" (Press release). BBC Drama Publicity. 24 November 2011. Archived from the original on 30 December 2011. Retrieved 2012-07-20. 
  15. ^ a b Abraham, Richard (20 November 2012). "BBC to broadcast Beryl Burton radio drama". Cycling Weekly. Retrieved 4 June 2014. 
  16. ^ Doran, John (22 August 2012). "The Eccentronic Research Council And Maxine Peake". The Quietus. 
  17. ^ "The Village Press Pack", BBC Press Office, 19 March 2013. Retrieved 2013-03-19.
  18. ^ "Maxine Peake's BAFTA nomination for The Village". The Bolton News. 9 April 2014. Retrieved 13 June 2014. 
  19. ^ "Filming starts on second series of BBC One's The Village". BBC Media Centre. 28 March 2014. Retrieved 13 June 2014. 
  20. ^ "Royal Exchange Press Release". Retrieved 2014-05-10. 
  21. ^ "Maxine Peake's run as Hamlet at Royal Exchange extended by a week", Manchester Evening News, 1 September, 2014.
  22. ^ Chaudhari, Saiqa (10 January 2014). "Maxine Peake wins socialism award for opposing austerity measures". The Bolton News. Retrieved 4 June 2014. 
  23. ^ Clapp, Susannah. "Hamlet review – Maxine Peake is a delicately ferocious Prince of Denmark". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 October 2014. 
  24. ^ Billington, Michael (11 February 2015). "How to Hold Your Breath review". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 February 2015. 
  25. ^ "Guilty Until Proved Innocent". BBC Radio 4. 2009. 
  26. ^ "This Repulsive Woman". BBC Radio 4. 2010. 
  27. ^ BBC Radio 4 – 15 Minute Drama, Craven, Episode 1
  28. ^ "My Dad Keith". BBC Radio 4. 2014. 

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