- 1. Career
Maxine Peake is an English actress and narrator. She is known for her roles as Twinkle in the BBC One sitcom dinnerladies (1998–2000), Veronica Ball in the hit Channel 4 comedy drama Shameless (2004–2007), Martha Costello in the BBC One legal drama Silk (2011–2014), and Grace Middleton in the BBC One drama series The Village (2013–2014). In 2017, she starred in the Black Mirror episode "Metalhead". She has also played the title role in Hamlet, as well as the notorious serial killer Myra Hindley in the critically acclaimed ITV dramatization of the Moors murders, See No Evil: The Moors Murders (2006).
Peake has appeared in many 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. 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.
Peake portrayed Moors murderer Myra Hindley in See No Evil: The Moors Murders, which was broadcast in May 2006. In January 2009, Peake appeared in her first major feature film role, as Angela, in the film Clubbed.
In 2012, Peake played the title role in Miss Julie at the Royal Exchange, Manchester, and previously played the part of Kristin in a 2000 production. She played Doll Tearsheet in the BBC2 adaptations of Henry IV, Parts I and II.
Peake wrote, directed and starred in the play Beryl: A Love Story On Two Wheels about the life of the Leeds-born cyclist Beryl Burton, which was broadcast on BBC Radio Four in November 2012. In 2014, Peake adapted her play for the stage. Entitled 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. The play returned in June and July 2015 and toured across England in Autumn 2015. 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 in 1993.
Peake provided the vocals for the Eccentronic Research Council's 2012 concept album 1612 Underture about the Pendle Witch Trials and for their 2015 album Johnny Rocket, Narcissist & Music Machine…I'm Your Biggest Fan. Peake also features as a crazed stalker in the music video for "Sweet Saturn Mine" by Moonlandingz; a collaborative effort by Eccentronic Research Council and Fat White Family in 2015.
In September 2013, Peake was appointed an Associate Artist of the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester. 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. 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". 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". A year later she appeared in Frankcom's production of The Skriker, as "Caryl Churchill's shape-shifting, doom-wreaking fairy". The Guardian's Lyn Gardner listed the production in her top ten British plays of the year. 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".
Peake starred in Metalhead, a December 2017 episode of Netflix's Black Mirror anthology. The episode was directed by Hannibal and American Gods director, David Slade.
Peake starred as Nellie in Mike Leigh's 2018 film, Peterloo, based on the events of the 1819 Peterloo Massacre in Manchester.
Peake starred as the eponymous protagonist in the 2018 film Funny Cow alongside a cast including Paddy Considine and Stephen Graham. Tony Pitts wrote and starred in the film, which received positive reviews, in particular for Peake's "magnificent" performance.
Peake starred in, and won critical acclaim for, the lead role of Winnie in Samuel Beckett's Happy Days at the Royal Exchange Theatre in May 2018. The Guardian said she gave a "brilliant central performance, there’s barely a breath between optimism and despair". Following Happy Days, the theatre presented Queens of the Coal Age, a play written by Peake. Adapted from her earlier radio drama, Queens of the Coal Age looks at the 1993 pit closure protests by miners' wives in northern England. The play received mixed reviews.
Peake starred in The Nico Project as Velvet Underground singer Nico at the Manchester International Festival in July 2019.
Peake stars as Miss Fozzard in the 2020 BBC remake of Talking Heads, recreating a role originally played by Patricia Routledge.