Maxine Peake

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Maxine Peake
MaxinePeak 2015.JPG
Born (1974-07-14) 14 July 1974 (age 42)[1]
Westhoughton, Bolton, England, UK[2]
Occupation Actress
Years active 1996–present

Maxine Peake (born 14 July 1974) is an English stage, radio, film and television actress, who made her name as Twinkle in Victoria Wood's sitcom Dinnerladies. She has since played Veronica Ball in Channel 4's Manchester-based comedy drama series Shameless,[3] barrister Martha Costello in the BBC legal drama Silk[4] and Grace Middleton in The Village. She is also an accomplished stage actress, having played the title role in Hamlet, and had a role in the 2014 film The Theory of Everything.

Early life[edit]

Born in Westhoughton, Bolton, Greater Manchester, Peake is the second of two daughters born to Brian and Glenys 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, Peake 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 did a two-year performing arts course at Salford College of Technology.[3] 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 of Britain Salford branch in her youth.[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]

Later life[edit]

In 2009 Peake returned to the north-west, after living in London for 13 years. The move freed her of the financial constraints of trying to buy a house in London. Living in Salford with her art director partner Pawlo Wintoniuk, she says, gave her the freedom to choose more risky roles and lower-paying jobs in theatre. "For the last few years I have been lucky enough to choose what I want to do. Living in Salford gives me the confidence to do that because I don’t have a massive mortgage."[10] In 2014 the actress revealed that in an attempt to have children she had explored every option, including IVF treatments. She has suffered two miscarriages.[11]


Peake has appeared in a number of television and stage productions including Victoria Wood's Dinnerladies, Channel 4's Shameless, in the lead role of barrister Martha Costello in the BBC's legal drama Silk and alongside John Simm in the BBC drama The Village, depicting life in a Derbyshire village during the First World War.[12] Following career advice from Victoria Wood, between the two series of Dinnerladies, Peake lost so much weight that an explanation had to be written into the script for her character, Twinkle.[3]

Peake portrayed the Moors murderer Myra Hindley in See No Evil: The Moors Murders.[13] Broadcast in May 2006, it was met with mixed reactions; soon after this Peake announced that she was leaving Shameless. January 2009 saw Peake appear in her first major feature film role, as Angela, in the film Clubbed.

Maxine Peake (right) at the 2016 Hay Festival

She has played the title role in Miss Julie at the Royal Exchange, Manchester.[14] She previously played the part of Kristin in a 2000 production.[15] as well as Doll Tearsheet in the BBC2 adaptations of Henry IV, Parts I and II.[16]

In November 2012, a play that Peake had written, directed and starred in about the life of the Leeds-born cyclist Beryl Burton was broadcast on BBC Radio Four as Beryl: A Love Story On Two Wheels.[17][18] In 2014 Peake adapted her play for the stage. Titled simply Beryl, it was commissioned by the West Yorkshire Playhouse where it ran in June and July 2014 to coincide with the start of the Tour de France in Leeds,[19] returned in June and July 2015 and toured across England in Autumn 2015.[20]

Peake provided the vocals for the Eccentronic Research Council's 2012 concept album 1612 Underture about the Pendle Witch Trials,[21] and as a crazed stalker in the music video for "Sweet Saturn Mine"[22] by Moonlandingz, a collaborative effort by Eccentronic Research Council and Fat White Family in 2015.[23]

In September 2013, Peake was appointed an Associate Artist of the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester.[24] Her association with the theatre began in childhood and she was a member of the youth theatre. Major productions in which she has performed include 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 of 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. Building on this work, in September 2014 Frankcom went on to direct her as the title character in a radical re-imagining of Hamlet.[25] 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".[26] The Guardian said of her performance: "Peake’s delicate ferocity, her particular mixture of concentration and lightness, ensure that you want to follow her whenever she appears".[27] A year later she appeared in Frankcom's production of The Skriker, as "Caryl Churchill’s shape-shifting, doom-wreaking fairy".[28] The Guardian's Lyn Gardner listed the production in her top ten British plays of the year.[29]

Political views[edit]

Jeremy Corbyn and Maxine Peake walking together in the procession through the village at the Tolpuddle Martyrs' Festival and Rally 2016

Peake is a feminist and socialist. She was active in communist organisations in her youth. She supported Jeremy Corbyn in the 2015 Labour leadership election and later.[30] She brings her views into much of her work.[31]

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".[32]

In January 2016, Peake featured[33] in the Climate Coalition's short film I Wish For You as Mia, with Jeremy Irons starring as her grandfather, to highlight the urgency on combating climate change.


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 Ball 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
Won - Royal Television Society North Best Actress Award
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[34]
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[35]
Criminal Justice Juliet Miller TV series (5 episodes)
Won - Broadcasting Press Guild Award for Best Actress
Won - Crime Thriller Awards - Best Actress Dagger[36]
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)
Nominated - Broadcasting Press Guild Award - Best Actress
Nominated - Crime Thriller Awards - Best Actress Dagger[37]
Room at the Top Alice Aisgill Nominated - Broadcasting Press Guild Award - Best Actress
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 – BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress
Nominated - Broadcasting Press Guild Awards - 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)
Nominated - BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress
Nominated - Broadcasting Press Guild Awards - Best Actress
The Falling Eileen Feature Film
Keeping Rosy Charlotte Feature film
Won - Fantasporto Directors Week Best Actress Award[38]
The Theory of Everything Elaine Mason Feature film
2015 Call Security Narrator Documentary, BBC 1 24 March
2016 Comic Strip - Red Top Rebekah Brooks Comedy,UK Gold 20 January
A Midsummer Night's Dream Titania TV movie
2017 Funny Cow Funny Cow Pre-production[39]


Year Play Role Notes
1998 Early One Morning[40] Lizzie
Breakthrough Various
2000 Miss Julie[41] Kristin
The John Ford Investigation Various
The Importance of Being Earnest Gwendoline
The Cherry Orchard[42] Dunyasha
2001 The Relapse[43] Miss Hoyden
Luther[44] Katherine Von Bora
2002 Mother Theresa is Dead[45] Jane
Hamlet[46] Ophelia
2003 Serjeant Musgrave's Dance[47] Annie
Robin Hood Maid Marion
The Permanent Way[48] Various Not in the final cast
2005 Rutherford and Son[49] Janet
2006 On the Third Day[50] Claire
2007 Leaves of Glass[51] Debbie
2008 The Children's Hour[52] Karen Wright
2011 Loyalty[53] Laura
The Deep Blue Sea[54] Hester Collyer
2012 Miss Julie[55] Miss Julie
2013 The Masque of Anarchy[56] Performer
2014 Beryl Writer
Hamlet[57] Hamlet
2015 How To Hold Your Breath[58] Dana
The Skriker[59] The Skriker
2016 A Streetcar Named Desire [60] Blanche DuBois

Radio drama[edit]

  • Guilty Until Proved Innocent (2009), Dina[61]
  • Geoffrey Chaucer - Troilus and Criseyde (2009), Criseyde (dramatised by Lavinia Greenlaw)[62]
  • This Repulsive Woman (2010), Deborah Hurst[63]
  • Craven (Series 1: 2009, Series 2, 3 & 4: 2012, Series 5: 2013, Series 6: 2014), Detective Sue Craven[64]
  • Beryl: A Love Story On Two Wheels (2012), writer and performer (Beryl Burton)[17]
  • Queens of the Coal Age (2013) writer and performer (Anne Scargill)[65]
  • My Dad Keith (2014), writer and performer (Steph)[66]
  • Betsie Coleman (2015), performer (Betsie Coleman)[67]
  • Briar Road (2015), narrator (writer Jonathan Buckley)[68]
  • Not In Our Name CD (2015), narrator (writer Heathcote Williams)[69]


  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 d 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. ^ "Maxine Peake — My lovely Lancashire home". Lancashire Life. 4 January 2012. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 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. 
  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. ^ "Maxine Peake on Leaving London". The Telegraph. The Telegraph. Retrieved 7 April 2015. 
  11. ^ "It's So Selfish to Have Children". mailonline. Daily Mail. Retrieved 7 April 2015. 
  12. ^ "The Village Press Pack", BBC Press Office, 19 March 2013. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
  13. ^ "Return to the Moors" Manchester Evening News, 4 May 2006
  14. ^ "Miss Julie Cast List, Royal Exchange Theatre" (PDF). Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  15. ^ "Eccleston Woos Miss Julie at Haymarket", What's on Stage, 19 January 2000. Retrieved 5 March 2012.
  16. ^ "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 20 July 2012. 
  17. ^ a b Abraham, Richard (20 November 2012). "BBC to broadcast Beryl Burton radio drama". Cycling Weekly. Retrieved 4 June 2014. 
  18. ^ "Beryl: A Love Story On Two Wheels". BBC Media Centre. Retrieved 20 July 2015. 
  19. ^ Ian Youngs (24 June 2014). "Maxine Peake celebrates unsung sporting hero Beryl Burton". BBC News. Retrieved 20 July 2015. 
  20. ^ "Tour de Beryl". West Yorkshire Playhouse. 8 July 2015. Retrieved 20 July 2015. 
  21. ^ Doran, John (22 August 2012). "The Eccentronic Research Council And Maxine Peake". The Quietus. 
  22. ^ "Sweet Saturn Mine". YouTube. YouTube. Retrieved 9 April 2015. 
  23. ^ "Maxine Peake Stalks the Fat Whites...". The Guardian. The Guardian. Retrieved 9 April 2015. 
  24. ^ "Meet The Creative Team". Royal Exchange Theatre. R.E.T. Retrieved 9 April 2015. 
  25. ^ "Royal Exchange Press Release". Retrieved 10 May 2014. 
  26. ^ "Maxine Peake's run as Hamlet at Royal Exchange extended by a week", Manchester Evening News, 1 September 2014.
  27. ^ "Hamlet Review". The Guardian. The Guardian. Retrieved 8 April 2015. 
  28. ^ Clapp, Susannah. "The Skriker review – extraordinarily prescient". the Guardian. Retrieved 2015-12-23. 
  29. ^ Gardner, Lyn. "Lyn Gardner's top 10 theatre of 2015". the Guardian. Retrieved 2015-12-23. 
  30. ^ "Peake: Corbyn can put Labour on track". Morning Star. 11 July 2015. 
  31. ^ Ed Cumming, Maxine Peake: ‘I care deeply what people think’, The Guardian, 17 January 2016.
  32. ^ Chaudhari, Saiqa (10 January 2014). "Maxine Peake wins socialism award for opposing austerity measures". The Bolton News. Retrieved 4 June 2014. 
  33. ^ "Maxine Peake stars in new climate change film 'I Wish for You...'". 
  34. ^ "Television Award Winners". BAFTA. BAFTA. Retrieved 9 April 2015. 
  35. ^ "2010 Broadcasting Press Guild Awards". Broadcasting Guild. Broadcasting Guild. Retrieved 9 April 2015. 
  36. ^ "Previous Winners". Crime Thriller Awards. Crime Thriller Awards. Retrieved 9 April 2015. 
  37. ^ "CWA Reveals Shortlist". The Bookseller. The Bookseller. Retrieved 9 April 2015. 
  38. ^ "Fantasporto News". Fantasporto. Fantasporto. Retrieved 9 April 2015. 
  39. ^
  40. ^ "Marvelous Maxine Peake". Maxine Peake. Maxine Peake. Retrieved 8 April 2015. 
  41. ^ "Miss Julie". Variety. Variety. Retrieved 8 April 2015. 
  42. ^ "Cherry Orchard". What's On Stage. W.O.S. Retrieved 8 April 2015. 
  43. ^ "The Relapse". Variety. Variety. Retrieved 8 April 2015. 
  44. ^ "Sewell, Griffiths & West Lead Nationals'". What's On Stage. W.O.S. Retrieved 8 April 2015. 
  45. ^ "Mother Teresa is Dead". The Guardian. The Guardian. Retrieved 8 April 2015. 
  46. ^ "Hamlet". What's On Stage. W.O.S. Retrieved 8 April 2015. 
  47. ^ "Serjeant Musgrave's Dance". The Guardian. The Guardian. Retrieved 8 April 2015. 
  48. ^ "Whose Line is it Anyway". The Guardian. The Guardian. Retrieved 8 April 2015. 
  49. ^ "Rutherford and Son". British Theatre Guide. B.T.G. Retrieved 8 April 2015. 
  50. ^ "On the Third Day". The Guardian. The Guardian. Retrieved 8 April 2015. 
  51. ^ "Leaves of Glass". The Guardian. The Guardian. Retrieved 8 April 2015. 
  52. ^ "The Children's Hour". British Theatre Guide. B.T.G. Retrieved 8 April 2015. 
  53. ^ "Loyalty". The Guardian. The Guardian. Retrieved 8 April 2015. 
  54. ^ "The deep Blue Sea". The Arts Desk. The Arts Desk. Retrieved 8 April 2015. 
  55. ^ "Miss Julie Review". The Guardian. The Guardian. Retrieved 8 April 2015. 
  56. ^ "The Mask of Anarchy". Manchester International Festival. M.I.F. Retrieved 8 April 2015. 
  57. ^ Clapp, Susannah. "Hamlet review – Maxine Peake is a delicately ferocious Prince of Denmark". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 October 2014. 
  58. ^ Billington, Michael (11 February 2015). "How to Hold Your Breath review". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 February 2015. 
  59. ^ "MIF15 Maxine PeakeThe Skriker". Manchester Evening News. M.E.N. Retrieved 8 April 2015. 
  60. ^
  61. ^ "Guilty Until Proved Innocent". BBC Radio 4. 2009. 
  62. ^ "Geoffrey Chaucer - Troilus and Criseyde". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 21 April 2016. 
  63. ^ "This Repulsive Woman". BBC Radio 4. 2010. 
  64. ^ "BBC Radio 4 - 15 Minute Drama, Craven, Episode 1". BBC. 
  65. ^ "Behind the Scenes of Queens of the Coal Age". Savvy Productions. Savvy Productions. Retrieved 8 April 2015. 
  66. ^ "My Dad Keith". BBC Radio 4. 2014. 
  67. ^ "Afternoon Drama: Betsie Coleman". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 25 February 2015. 
  68. ^ "BBC National Short Story Award: Briar Road". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 21 September 2015. 
  69. ^ "MAXINE PEAKE - Actress". Peace in Our Name Music. 

External links[edit]