Maxine Peake wins Best Actress for ‘Miss Julie’ a Manchester Theatre Awards 2013

Last night Maxine Peake won the Best Actress award for her performance in Miss Julie. Congratulations Maxine! 😀

We could probably have filled this category twice over, such was the quality of performance over the year, in productions ranging from a simple two-hander to a large-cast blockbuster, from comedy to searing drama. Starting with the smaller scale, Victoria Elliott impressed in Jim Cartwright’s Two at the Royal Exchange, deftly handling the humour and the tragedy of her seven characters. At the other end of the scale, Lucy van Gasse dazzled us as the blonde bombshell Eileen in Wonderful Town at The Lowry. But the awards are dominated by the Royal Exchange. Lysette Anthony, a sophisticated vision in red, ranged from the seductive to the sensitive as the manipulative yet misunderstood Mrs Erlynne in Lady Windermere’s Fan. Imogen Stubbs was compelling in a finely modulated and driven portrayal of Lady Torrance in Orpheus Descending. But our award goes to Maxine Peake for the title role in Miss Julie. Hers was a performance that touched every nerve, covering a range of emotion, from haughtiness to sluttishness to humiliation. She delivered a complete performance, literally down to her quivering fingertips. Truly memorable.

Philip Radcliffe
26 March 2013


New Article, Interview with Maxine Peake: ‘People go to therapy. I’ve got a hoover’

The guardian website has published a wonderful new interview with Maxine. You can read it here:

Actor Maxine Peake – best known from Shameless and Silk, and now starring in BBC drama The Village – is a plain-speaking grafter with no time for luvvies and a firm belief in housework…

Maxine Peake: ‘I’m concerned we’ll tip back into the bad old days when only people from a certain class could afford to send their children to drama school.’ Photograph: Lorna Milburn

Maxine Peake is wearing slippers and a faded grey dressing-gown belted loosely round her waist. There is an indistinct white-ish stain on one shoulder that might or might not be scraped-off baby sick. “Sorry about that,” she says, dabbing at it ineffectually.

Her face, fine-boned and pale, peers out from underneath roughly swept-back hair. Most actresses like to claim they don’t really care how they look, but Peake is the first I’ve met who genuinely seems to mean it.

“For me,” she says, “It’s about being as down-to-earth and low-maintenance as possible.”

It turns out the dressing-gown is for a role: Peake is currently filming Keeping Rosy, a low-budget independent film in which she plays an advertising executive whose life spirals out of control. Today, the crew are filming in an antiseptic apartment in London’s Canary Wharf but she’s actually here to promote her turn in the forthcoming BBC drama, The Village.

“The problem with Maxine,” her publicist sighs, “is that she’s always doing the next job when we need her to publicise the last one. She’s never out of work.”

The green room where we meet is fairly chaotic and overrun with electric cables and stage-school kids, including a chubby baby who for some reason is wearing a tea-towel as a nappy. Peake herself appears unconcerned by the hubbub, and answers each question with the same considered calm that she brings to many of her characters. She says she has no time for “method” luvvies who agonise over their art: “I get very irate with actors when they talk about how distressing it all is. I mean, it’s only acting. Please.”

It’s probably easier to get away with saying something like that when you’re at the top of your game yourself. Over the past decade, Peake, 38, has quietly become one of our foremost television actors, renowned both for her complete believability and her understated ease on screen. Her big break after graduating from Rada (where she was on a full scholarship) was a part in Victoria Wood’s hit sitcom Dinnerladies in the late 1990s. Peake had grown up in Bolton watching Wood on television with her dad, Brian, a lorry driver and factory worker. Getting to star alongside her idol was thrilling. “I still haven’t come to terms with it,” she says.

It was Wood who famously advised her young protégée to lose weight to avoid being typecast as the funny northern lass.

“I’d get a script which said ‘she’s from Hertfordshire’,” recalls Peake, “and in the audition, they’d hear my accent and say, ‘You do know she’s not northern?'” She guffaws. “I might be northern, but I can actually read. But I think because I was young, chubby and bubbly, people felt they had to explain in a slightly patronising way.”

Peake duly shifted five stone with Weight Watchers and landed the part of brassy Veronica in Shameless – a programme her mother, Glynis, could never bring herself to watch.

“She was mortally embarrassed by Shameless,” says Peake, laughing. “I think Dinnerladies was a big thing for my mum.”

Were they proud of her? “They never said [Peake’s mother died four years ago]. My dad did say to me once: ‘I don’t know how you do what you do’ and that was his way of saying it, I think.”

After Shameless, Peake took the lead role in a clutch of critically acclaimed small-screen dramas: in 2006 she portrayed Moors murderer Myra Hindley in See No Evil. The experience “took a little bit of time to shake off”. After taking on a particularly dark role, she recovers with a bout of frenzied cleaning around the house.

“I love hoovering,” Peake says. “People go to therapists, I’ve got a Hoover. Cooking, you can keep. I’ve not the slightest interest in it.” Her favourite food is a packet of crumpets – she has a stash in the freezer. What brand? No hesitation: “Warburton’s.”

More recently, she appeared in the Channel 4 trilogy Red Riding, played the Simone Signoret role in a superb BBC4 remake of Room at the Top, and was the feisty QC Martha Costello in the BBC series Silk, written by Peter Moffat. With her uncompromising ethics and dashing slash of red lipstick, Costello has become the official girl crush for all right-thinking women in their 30s. It is a role that could easily have been clichéd but in Peake’s hands it acquired depth and realism.

“Martha’s not cool but she tries to be cool and that’s what I like about her… For the second series, they said ‘Let’s glam her up a bit’ and I said no, I liked the fact her hair’s a bit messy.”

The Village is another Moffat script: an epic six-part BBC series that charts the life and times of one English village across the whole of the 20th century.

“It always starts with the writing,” Peake says of how she picks her roles. “Normally I get three pages in and I can say yes or no.”

She is aware, too, of a responsibility to depict women a certain way on screen. “I think all things are political… How women are portrayed – that’s a big thing for me. What is this role trying to say about women? Is this woman weak or victimised and, if so, do we get to understand why?”

In The Village, Peake plays Grace, a devoted mother of two sons who channels her energies into caring for her family. Peake, who lives in Salford with her boyfriend Pawlo, a TV art director, has no children herself – a fact often commented on in interviews almost as though she is a freak of nature. Was she ever anxious about taking on a matriarchal role?

She nods. “I used to panic. Can I really truthfully play a mother? I mean, people say you’ve never felt a love like that you have for your children. But then, you’re an actor. You can play an axe murderer without having done it.”

Why does she think we are still so surprised when a woman chooses not to have children?

“It stems back to keeping women in their place, to women feeling guilty if they’re not fulfilling those roles. I just find it ridiculous that we are still in this day and age so hung up on children. Women can be completely fulfilled in different ways. I was talking to a friend the other day who said: ‘I don’t want children. I’m too selfish’ and I thought, maybe you’re not. Maybe wanting children is selfish… It’s not just about you and your need for a baby. Children have a life [of their own].”

Besides, she says, The Village appealed to her because the drama centres on “working people” rather than “the decision-makers”. Peake is a committed socialist. Apathy worries her and she thinks it’s “criminal” when people don’t vote. When they were filming The Village, she took the entire cast to the Working Class Movement Library in Salford. In July, she will perform Shelley’s The Masque of Anarchy, a 91-stanza political epic written in response to the Peterloo Massacre, at the Manchester international festival.

Is there any major political party that currently reflects her beliefs?

“No, I don’t think so… It’s very difficult to find anyone at the moment who is beating the same drum. Still, I suppose I’ve been brought up that, whatever happens, you vote Labour. It’s difficult but the alternative is worse.”

Does she worry that the current climate of austerity will put working-class students off becoming actors?

“Yeah. I do wonder how people are going to afford to go to drama school now. I panic about how people can even afford to go to the theatre. The West End is thriving but at £76 a ticket…”

She’d like to see more grassroots funding and cheaper tickets so that younger people get to go the theatre more regularly. When she was at drama college, her role models were not movie stars but the stage actors: Juliet Stevenson, Alan Rickman and Albert Finney…

“I’m really concerned we will tip back into the bad old days when only people from a certain class or people with disposable incomes could afford to send their children to drama school.”

It’s a rare and refreshing thing to hear an actress speaking her mind with such clarity and force. Peake’s political awareness was minted in 1985 when she was 10. The miners’ strike was on the news and she remembers being petrified by the notion of nuclear war. She was also educated politically by her beloved grandfather, Jim, a formative influence after Peake’s parents divorced when she was nine.

When she was 15, her mother moved in with a new boyfriend several miles away and Peake lived with her grandfather for a few years so that she could continue going to her local school. She has described him in past interviews as her mentor. It was Jim who encouraged her to pursue her acting, even when she was rejected by regional theatre companies and spent three years trying and failing to get into drama college before going to Rada at the age of 21.

A few days before our meeting, Peake’s grandfather died at the age of 85. For a while, it looked as though the interview was going to be postponed. But then the call came through that, no, Peake wanted to do it. Her publicist says that throwing herself back into work has helped divert her energies elsewhere. She is a grafter; always has been. Understandably, Peake has said she doesn’t want to speak about Jim today. She says simply that she “worshipped” her grandparents, and her hand trembles as she raises it to tuck back her hair. She looks momentarily fragile.

Shortly afterwards, we’re told the next scene needs to be shot and the wardrobe lady needs Peake to change. She seems lightened when she gets up, as though she is back in her element – relieved perhaps that she can plough all that feeling into a different character, not her own.

The Village starts on BBC1 next Sunday, 31 March. MIF’s Masque of Anarchy is at the Albert Hall, Manchester, 12-14 July.


“The Village” Media Pack & Press Information

The Village is an epic drama series for BBC One starring Maxine Peake and John Simm, charting the life and turbulent times of one English village across the whole of the 20th century, written by Bafta-winning writer Peter Moffat.

The camera never leaves the village. Births, deaths, love and betrayal, great political events, upheavals in national identity, ways of working, rules kept and rebellions made, sex, religion, class, the shaping of modern memory – all refracted through the lives of the villagers and the village…

The full media pack is available to download here (PDF)

For further information please contact: DGPR, 020 8959 9980


ERC ft Maxine Peake launch 100 years electronic music celebrations – 17th May 2013

Noise of Art’s 100 years of an Art of Noises Launch Party with:

Eccentronic Research Council ft Maxine Peake – LIVE
Fil OK (Nag Nag Nag)
Deadstock 33s (Justin Robertson)
Jim Stanton (The Cock)
Scottee (Anti Social)
Severino (Italia/ Horse Meat Disco)
Ben Osborne (Noise of Art)
Your Mum
Mark Scott Wood
and more to be announced

8.30pm – 4am Village Underground, 54 Holywell Lane, Shoreditch, London EC2A 3PQ
Get Tickets will be on sale HERE soon and are available HERE now…

Noise of Art starts its celebration of 100 years of electronic music with a rare as hens teeth chance to see the Eccentronic Research Council, featuring Maxine Peake, live
Marking a century since Luigi Russolo, the Italian futurist, published his ‘Manifesto for An Art of Noises’ (1913) and designed what many hold to be the first synthesiser, the celebrations will see a series of music and cross platform art events taking place over the next year. The Launch party references the role Sheffield played in electronic music and the era defining music that came out of London’s clubs at the turn of the 21st Century.
Headlining the show is the Eccentronic Research Council, featuring film, stage and TV star Maxine Peak on vocals. Amongst her many roles, Peake has starred in Shameless, Dinner Ladies, Clubbed and Silk, and is about to headline the 2013 Manchester International Festival.
This is the first time Eccentronic Research Council has played in London (having turned down every previous offer) and will be the only chance to see the cross-platform band perform their acclaimed ‘1612 Underture’ in the Capital. If you miss this you have really missed out.
Aside from being a Quietus LP of the year, front cover of the Guardian Guide and being the subject of a feature on the BBCs Culture Show, Eccentronic Research Council have produced a seminal electronic concept album and show based on the Pendle Witches, which has garnered praise from every quarter.
The core of Eccentronic Research Council, apart from Maxine, are Dean Hohner and Adrian Flanagan, two vintage synth enthusiasts who are themselves part of Sheffield’s electronic and leftfield heritage, having been members of band’s such as I Monster, Kings Have long Arms, The Chanteuse & The Crippled Claw and All Seeing Eye. They count Sheffield legends such as DJ Parrot, Jarvis Cocker and Phil Oakey in their circle.
Keeping kids partying all night long, will be a core collection of London DJs from the most legendary London nightclubs at the start of the 21st Century.
Pioneering what was at times called electroclash, electro house, indie dance, new rave, disco punk, the Hoxton sound, Berlin sound and, simply, electro (but all the while trying to wriggle out of having a name at all), the clubs rebelled against the over-produced dance music of the late Nineties and looked back to early synthesiser music for inspiration; something they have in common with ECR’s love of vintage analogue sounds – plenty of which will be on hand tonight.
The clubs, such as Nag Nag Nag , The Cock, Trash and Anti Social, all returned to electronic music’s dirtier sounding roots, but came back with different takes.
Representing these clubs tonight will be Fil Ok, resident DJ and founder of the legendary Nag Nag Nag. Jim Stanton, DJ and creator of The Cock, one of the clubs, alongside Trash, responsible for the sound in London, and Scottee, the DJ and performance artist who, along with Buster, was behind Anti Social, the maddest and baddest new rave club of them all.
Justin Robertson, legendary DJ, Bugged Out resident and original Hacienda Acid houser, will be wearing his Deadstock 33’s hat, a new nom de plume that sees him delve back to the heyday of New York anti-disco in a way that only he could. Check out his sublime new LP on Munk’s seminal imprint, Gomma, to see what we mean.
Meanwhile the DJ’s DJ, Italian stallion Severino, who alongside Jim Stanton was a founder member of Horse Meat Disco (the night that brought disco back), will be flying the flag for his synthesiser inventing and electronic music fathering compatriot, Luigi Russolo.
DJ and Noise of Art founder Ben Osborne will be intervening at various points, incorporating some of the electronic sounds created by Luigi Russolo into his contemporary dancefloor set. And there’s more to be announced…
Details of the next event to be announced shortly.


Gallery Update, promos for Maxine’s new film ‘Run and Jump’

Starring Will Forte (30 Rock, Saturday Night Live) and Maxine Peake (Silk, Shameless), and part funded by RTÉ, Run and Jump is a drama that tells the story of a wife’s struggles to cope after her husband’s stroke.

Films > Run and Jump (2013) > Promotional Photos

New article, ‘The Village’ begins on Easter Sunday on BBC1

A very British Heimat: Will BBC drama The Village be as epic as the German saga?

Heimat followed a single family over the 20th century. Peter Moffat hopes that his new First World War drama for BBC1 will be just as epic

We may like to think of long-form television drama as a 21st- century innovation, that it was born at HBO with The Wire and The Sopranos, and that subtitled drama on British television only began with Spiral or The Killing. But back in the mid-1980s, German director Edgar Reitz’s epic saga Heimat, having been exhibited as a 16-hour marathon in a London cinema, was shown in its entirety over 11 consecutive nights on BBC2. It made better serial television than cinema, and even at a time when Dennis Potter was busy doing dazzling things to the medium, Heimat was life-enhancing in its originality and artistic vision.

Subsuming the entire mid-20th-century German Götterdämmerung, but set entirely in one village in a remote region of Rhineland, Reitz’s saga followed one extended family – rural people leading ordinary lives – from 1919 to 1982, from the Weimar Republic to the Federal Republic.

It seemed as slow as time itself, and capriciously stylish at times – switching, seemingly at random, between colour and black and white.

And when five years ago the barrister-turned-writer Peter Moffat, the Bafta-winning creator legal dramas Criminal Justice and Silk, told me that was talking to BBC1 to create a “British Heimat”, set in one Derbyshire village, I was both excited and doubtful. A British Heimat? On BBC1?

“We can’t make 13-episode seasons (as in America), but you can make six and then another six, if you’re lucky, and then another six – hopefully eventually we will have 42 hours of television drama,” says Moffat when we meet again to discuss how, like Reitz, he is also attempting to follow just one village through the tumult of the 20th-century. Unlike Heimat, however, there won’t be any black and white interludes in The Village(“That was soon dismissed,” says Moffat. “The BBC said ‘you can go slowly but no black and white’, “), while Moffat’s series won’t be shown over consecutive nights, but over six weeks.

Extending from 1912 to 1916 (with a final episode set in 1920), the first series of The Village stars John Simm and Maxine Peake as impoverished, alcoholic Peak District farmer John Middleton and his wife, Grace, and Juliet Stevenson as the lady of the local manor.

These names apart, the cast is largely unfamiliar, including two standout newcomers – 13-year-old Bill Jones as young Bert Middleton (whose long life will be central to Moffat’s project) and Irish actor Charlie Murphy as headstrong suffragette Martha – as well as dramatist Jim Cartwright (The Road) as the local publican. “I was very keen to have lots of faces we don’t know because you’re arguing ‘here is a slice of real life’, ” says Moffat.

This first – it is hoped – of many series covers roughly the same timespan as the opening series of Downton Abbey, but there the similarities end. This is working-class history, although aristocrats are necessarily involved (John’s oldest son works in the local big house), but without the anachronistic Downton-style fraternisation with the servants. Instead, these domestics are expected to face the walls when the master of the house passes by.

“I think we need to re-calibrate the way we look at history… particularly this period,” says Moffat. “It’s seen now as officer-class history. I don’t think there are enough of John Simm-type characters who, after all, make up most of the population. We’ve got lots of lovely Upstairs Downstairs stuff, so let’s have ‘how is it for a farm labourer?’.”

“I believe that you need to be away from the centre in order to look at people’s histories,” Edgar Reitz told me in a 2005 interview about Heimat. This, Moffat understands, especially when it comes to the unimaginable suffering of the First World War. “I don’t think you can do that war on screen,” he says. “I don’t think you can show us, without embarrassment, the Western Front. But you can do it by not being there… people who come back from it and have relationships with people who didn’t go. I really wanted to write about the First War and I knew I couldn’t it by having men in trenches and pretend mud.”

The mud was only too real in the waterlogged late autumn in the Peak District settlements of Glossop and Hayfield. But why choose Derbyshire? “Well, it’s incredibly beautiful,” says Moffat. “But also I didn’t want a place that was too overly described by any one thing – so I didn’t want a fishing village or a coal-mining village. And there’s the proximity of urban life… you can walk in the Peak District and come over a hill and there is Sheffield.”

Moffat researched locally and at the Imperial War Museum, and within his own family (his mother provided the detail of left-handed schoolchildren having their knuckles rapped until they became ambidextrous), while John Simm delved into a book by local historian Margaret Wombwell, Milk, Muck and Memories. “That was invaluable because they were first-hand accounts of working farmers from the period,” says Simm, who also learned how to scythe corn.

“Back-breaking work,” he says. “But quite satisfying… you’ve been working the soil. John Middleton talks about it a lot – the earth and the land.”

The hard-drinking Middleton is violent towards his wife, Grace, a storyline that worried Maxine Peake. “I have a difficulty with those roles… I’ve played a few now. But I was promised that she would blossom politically as the series went on… find her voice.”

This is the third time – after Silk and Criminal Justice – that Peake has led a drama series by Peter Moffat, who describes her as “simply the best actress of her generation”. Peake returns the compliment: “His characters are so unusual,” she says, “and you don’t really know where his script is going.” But has Moffat written a British Heimat? It’s a tall order but the first two episodes suggest that he is skilful and intelligent enough a writer to pull this one off.

Future series would be set in the 1920s, the 1930s, the Second World War, post-war Austerity Britain and beyond. The hope is that enough people watch this opening six episodes to give BBC1 drama bosses the confidence to allow him to fulfil this epic ambition.

‘The Village’ begins on Easter Sunday on BBC1


Maxine Peake to star in ‘Keeping Rosy’

Maxine Peake is to star in psychological thriller Keeping Rosy with Inbetweeners actor Blake Harrison.

Peake, best known for her roles in BBC dramas Silk, The Hollow Crown and Little Dorrit, will play ambitious advertising executive Charlotte, whose life disintegrates after a series of unfortunate events.

Credit: Sebastian Solberg

Principal photography commenced today in London and will continue throughout March and April.

It marks the directorial feature debut of Steve Reeves, who has directed more than 400 commercials including an ad for Agent Provocateur starring Kylie Minogue that received more than 360 million hits online.

Keeping Rosy is the third collaboration from producers Richard Holmes and Isabelle Georgeaux following culinary comedy Jadoo, which made the official selection at this year’s Berlin Film Festival; and Wales-set Resistance.

The script is penned by commercials copywriter Mike Oughton who is also making his feature film debut.

Joining the crew are Academy Award nominated DoP Roger Pratt (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, The End of the Affair) and editor Paul Watts (Under the Skin).