Maxine Peake

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Maxine Peake
MaxinePeak 2015.JPG
Peake in February 2015
Born (1974-07-14) 14 July 1974 (age 44)
Westhoughton, Greater Manchester, England
Occupation Actress
Years active 1996–present

Maxine Peake (born 14 July 1974) is an English actress. She is best known for her roles as Twinkle in Dinnerladies and Veronica Ball in Shameless, barrister Martha Costello in the BBC legal drama Silk,[1] and Grace Middleton in the BBC drama series The Village, as well as starring in Black Mirror episode "Metalhead". She is also an accomplished stage actress, having played the title role in Hamlet.

Early life[edit]

Peake was born in Westhoughton, Greater Manchester[2] on 14 July 1974,[3] the second of two daughters born to Glenys (née Hall) and Brian Peake.[4] Her father was a lorry driver before working in the electrical industry, and her mother was a part-time careworker. Her older sister, Lisa (born 1965), is a police officer.[4] Peake's parents separated when she 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 in Bradshaw. Her grandfather encouraged her to develop her creativity and start acting.

Peake joined the Octagon Youth Theatre in Bolton at age 13, before a period at the youth theatre of the Royal Exchange in Manchester. She later did a two-year performing arts course at the Salford College of Technology.[5] 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 played 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.[4] However, at 21, she obtained a place at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). 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.[5][9]

Career[edit]

Peake (right) with Jerry Brotton and Paapa Essiedu at the 2016 Hay Festival

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.[10] 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.[5]

Peake portrayed the Moors murderer Myra Hindley in See No Evil: The Moors Murders.[11] 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.

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

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.[15][16] 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,[17] returned in June and July 2015 and toured across England in Autumn 2015.[18] Peake wrote a later play called Queens of the Coal Age again for Radio 4 that told the story of Annie Scargill and three other women who tried to occupy a coal mine during the 1980s Miners' Strike.[19]

Peake provided the vocals for the Eccentronic Research Council's 2012 concept album 1612 Underture about the Pendle Witch Trials[20] and for their 2015 album Johnny Rocket, Narcissist & Music Machine…I'm Your Biggest Fan.[21] Peake also features 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] In 2016, Peake resumed her partnership with Royal Exchange Artistic Director, Sarah Frankcom, to star as Blanche Dubois in Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire. Peake's performance in the role garnered critical acclaim with The Guardian describing her performance as "exquisite" and "breathtaking."[30]

In 2017 it was announced that Peake is to star in Mike Leigh's next feature, Peterloo, a feature film based on the events of the 1819 Peterloo Massacre in Manchester.[31] In August 2017 it was revealed that Peake is to star in an episode of Netflix's Black Mirror. The episode entitled, "Metalhead", was directed by Hannibal and American Gods director, David Slade.[32]

Peake starred as the eponymous protagonist in the 2018 film Funny Cow alongside a cast including Paddy Considine and Stephen Graham. The film was written by and also starred Tony Pitts and received positive reviews, in particular praising Peake's "magnificent" performance [33].

Peake will star as Winnie in Samuel Beckett's Happy Days at the Royal Exchange Theatre from May 2018.

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 brings her views into much of her work.[34] She is a feminist and socialist. She was active in communist organisations during her youth and a member of Communist Party of Britain. 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".[35]

In July 2015, Peake endorsed Jeremy Corbyn's campaign in the Labour Party leadership election. She wrote on her website: "For me, Jeremy Corbyn is our only beacon of hope to get the Labour Party back on track, get the electorate back in touch with politics and save this country from the constant mindless bullying of the vulnerable and poor."[36]

In January 2016, Peake featured[37] 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.

In 2016, Peake along with numerous other celebrities, toured the UK to support Jeremy Corbyn's bid to become Prime Minister.[38][39]

In April 2017, she endorsed Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in the 2017 UK general election. She said: "I am a Corbyn supporter. My mind boggles why people treat him like the anti-Christ, but it goes to show people are a lot more right-wing than they like to believe."[40] In May 2017, she took part in a Labour Party election broadcast.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

In 2009, Peake left London after living there for 13 years. The move freed her of the financial constraints of trying to buy a house in the area. 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."[41] In 2014, she said that in an attempt to have children she had explored every option, including IVF treatments, and has suffered two miscarriages.[42]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1998 Girls' Night Sharon
2002 All or Nothing Party Girl
2002 Hamilton Mattress Lulu Short; voice role
2005 Be Mine Tina's Mum Short
2005 Frozen Ticket Attendant
2005 Stealing Up Daughter Short
2006 The Madness of the Dance The Professor Short
2007 I Am Bob Marilyn Monroe Short
2007 Would Like to Meet Heather Short
2008 Clubbed Angela
2010 Alice Short
2010 Edge Elly
2011 Room at the Top Alice Aisgill
2011 Best Laid Plans Isabel
2012 Private Peaceful Hazel Peaceful
2013 Run & Jump Vanetia Casey
2013 Svengali Angie
2014 The Falling Eileen
2014 The Theory of Everything Elaine Mason
2014 Keeping Rosy Charlotte
2017 Dispossession: The Great Social Housing Swindle Narrator Documentary
2017 Funny Cow Funny Cow
2018 Fanny Lye Deliver'd Post-production
2018 Peterloo Post-production
2018 The Dark Outside Elen Post-production

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1996 Hetty Wainthropp Investigates Photocopy Assistant Episode: "Fingers"
1998 Picking Up the Pieces Lucy Episode: "Episode No. 1.7"
1998–2000 Dinnerladies Twinkle 16 episodes
1999 Sunburn Sue Episode: "Episode No. 1.5"
1999 Coronation Street Belinda Peach Episode: "Episode No. 1.46352"
1999 Jonathan Creek Marion Cretiss Episode: "The Curious Tale of Mr. Spearfish"
2000 Clocking Off Marie Leach Episode: "The Leaches' Story"
2001 The Way We Live Now Ruby Ruggles 4 episodes
2001 Linda Green Receptionist Episode: "Fitness Freak"
2002 Holby City Tanya Wilton Episode: "Pawns in the Game: Part 1"
2002 Dalziel and Pascoe Dr. Allison Laurie Episode: "Mens Sana"
2003 At Home with the Braithwaites Trixie Fletcher Episode: "Episode No. 4.3"
2003 Early Doors Janice 4 episodes
2004 Christmas Lights Pauline TV movie
2004–2007 Shameless Veronica Ball Series regular (series 1–3), guest (series 4); 27 episodes
2005 Faith Linda TV movie
2005 Messiah: The Harrowing DS Vickie Clarke
2006 See No Evil: The Moors Murders Myra Hindley TV movie
2007 Confessions of a Diary Secretary Tracey Temple TV movie
2008 Bike Squad WPC Kate McFay TV movie
2008 Fairy Tales Cindy Mellor Episode: "Cinderella"
2008 Hancock & Joan Joan Le Mesurier TV movie
2008 Placebo Dr. Sian Nuttall TV movie
2008 The Devil's Whore Elizabeth Liliburne 4 episodes
2008 Little Dorrit Miss Wade 7 episodes
2009 Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1980 Helen Marshall TV movie
2009 Agatha Christie's MarpleThey Do It with Mirrors Jolly Bellever TV movie
2009 The Street Madeleine
2009 Criminal Justice Juliet Miller 5 episodes
2010 The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister Anne Lister TV movie
2011–2014 Silk Martha Costello 18 episodes
2012 Henry IV, Parts I and II Doll Tearsheet TV dramas, part of the series The Hollow Crown
2013–2014 The Village Grace Middleton 12 episodes
2015 Call Security Narrator Documentary
2016 Comic Strip – Red Top Rebekah Brooks TV movie
A Midsummer Night's Dream Titania TV movie
2017 Three Girls Sara Rowbotham 3 episodes
2017 Black Mirror Bella Episode: "Metalhead"
2018 The Bisexual Sadie TV Series

Theatre[edit]

Year Title Role Notes References
1998 Early One Morning Lizzie [43]
Breakthrough Various
2000 Miss Julie Kristin [44]
The John Ford Investigation Various
The Importance of Being Earnest Gwendoline
The Cherry Orchard Dunyasha [45]
2001 The Relapse Miss Hoyden [46]
Luther Katherine Von Bora [47]
2002 Mother Theresa is Dead Jane [48]
Hamlet Ophelia [49]
2003 Serjeant Musgrave's Dance Annie [50]
Robin Hood Maid Marion
The Permanent Way Various Not in the final cast [51]
2005 Rutherford and Son Janet [52]
2006 On the Third Day Claire [53]
2007 Leaves of Glass Debbie [54]
2008 The Children's Hour Karen Wright [55]
2011 Loyalty Laura [56]
The Deep Blue Sea Hester Collyer [57]
2012 Miss Julie Miss Julie [58]
2013 The Masque of Anarchy Performer [59]
2014 Beryl Writer
Hamlet Hamlet [60]
2015 How To Hold Your Breath Dana [61]
The Skriker The Skriker [62]
2016 A Streetcar Named Desire Blanche DuBois [63]
2018 Happy Days Winnie [64]

Radio drama[edit]

  • Guilty Until Proved Innocent (2009), Dina[65]
  • Geoffrey Chaucer – Troilus and Criseyde (2009), Criseyde (dramatised by Lavinia Greenlaw)[66]
  • This Repulsive Woman (2010), Deborah Hurst[67]
  • Craven (Series 1: 2009, Series 2, 3 & 4: 2012, Series 5: 2013, Series 6: 2014), Detective Sue Craven[68]
  • Beryl: A Love Story On Two Wheels (2012), writer and performer (Beryl Burton)[15]
  • Queens of the Coal Age (2013) writer and performer (Anne Scargill)[69]
  • My Dad Keith (2014), writer and performer (Steph)[70]
  • Betsie Coleman (2015), performer (Betsie Coleman)[71]
  • Briar Road (2015), narrator (writer Jonathan Buckley)[72]
  • Not in Our Name CD (2015), narrator (writer Heathcote Williams)[73]

Radio (other)[edit]

Only Artists (2018), meets the musician and performance artist Cosey Fanni Tutti.[74]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Nominated Work Association Category Result
2006 See No Evil: The Moors Murders Royal Television Society – North Best Actress Won
2009 Hancock & Joan BAFTA TV Award Nominated
2010 The Street Broadcasting Press Guild Award Won
2010 Criminal Justice Broadcasting Press Guild Award Won
Crime Thriller Awards Won
2013 Silk Broadcasting Press Guild Award Nominated
Crime Thriller Awards Nominated
2013 Room at the Top Broadcasting Press Guild Award Nominated
2014 Keeping Rosy Fantasporto Awards Won
2014 The Village BAFTA TV Award Nominated
Broadcasting Press Guild Awards Nominated
2018 Three Girls Broadcasting Press Guild Awards Best Actress Pending

References[edit]

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External links[edit]