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Getting The Measure Of Maxine Peake

Now this is definitely one you will want to kick back and take some time out of your day to read. 
Neil worked his magic and managed to grab the one and only Maxine Peake for a good ol' chat. Need we introduce ?
Probably not.
So, put the kettle on, grab a brew and read on. 
So Maxine, is it true your illustrious acting career started with a job on kid’s TV show Children’s Ward? That show seemed to produce quite a lot of talent didn’t it? 
''Crikey! I got started with a bit of brass neck. I sent a terrible video of myself doing various theatrical monologues when I was about 17 to nearly every Northern based actors agency. My best mate at school Cheryl's parents were teachers so they had a video camera. We stuck a sheet up on her front room wall and she recorded me. The only agency that responded was North Of Watford, a cooperative in Hebden Bridge. I think with some arm twisting from two of their members Susan Cookson and Lorraine Sass they took me on. I then had an audition for Children’s Ward.
The series I was in had Danny Dyer! In fact we were classmates performing in an ill fated production of Romeo and Juliet. He was Romeo and I was the nurse, obviously. It was a lovely atmosphere and very supportive. I hadn’t a clue what I was doing back then and my performance is toe curling but it was great experience. Russell T Davies produced that series and Kay Mellor, Sally Wainwright and Paul Abbott wrote on it. I mean what a line up!''
Danny Dyer, top left. Maxine, top right.


Playing Veronica in Shameless was another landmark moment in your career. How was she to play and what do you reckon she’d be doing nowadays were we to go back to the Chatsworth Estate to catch up with her?
''I loved playing Veronica. What a hoot! Shameless itself was an odd job. If I’m honest, not the happiest time in my life but it gave me my big break and opened a lot of doors. I was always surprised about how popular it became. It was quite chaotic to make but then maybe that was it’s charm. Playing someone who lives in the moment and doesn’t give two shits well, they are the best characters!
What would she be doing today? I mean did they ever get released from that jail in Romania? I think her and Kev would still be together. Like Jack and Vera. Loving each other to death but wanting to murder each other! I think probably the sex chat lines?''


You’re one of those versatile actors who I reckon could play pretty much anyone, which you’ve proved by incredible performances that include everyone from Hamlet to Nico to Myra Hindley but is there one role or person that you still really long to play one day?
''That’s very kind of you..Oh there are lots of women I would love to tackle. Vivienne Westwood, Hannah Gluckstein, Violet Gibson and Rosa Luxemburg spring to mind...''
Though it got some amazing reviews I thought Funny Cow was a criminally underrated piece of work and is destined to be one of those films that over time will be recognised as a true classic. What was it like to work on and how did you go about bringing the character to life?
''Funny Cow sprung from a conversation I had with Tony Pitts while we were working on Red Riding. He asked me if there was a story I would love to tell and I told him about my fascination with women who were on The WMC circuit back in the 60’ and 70’s.

So off he went and two weeks later he came back with the script. It took nine years to make. Nobody really wanted to know until the producer Kevin Proctor took on the challenge of bringing it to the screen.

I have to admit I did research and watched a lot of Marti Caine who was the inspiration but sometimes there are characters that you just ‘know’. It’s all on instinct and the hardest thing to do sometimes is trust that. There was such an amazing team of cast, crew and creatives that it was so much fun and felt safe and free.''
A key part of these ‘Getting the Measure of’ interviews is to talk about another talent or passion that the interviewee. Which brings me to your involvement in music and people like Johnny Marr, PINS and the Eccentronic Research Council, where does your love of music come from and how did you get involved in making music?
''I have always been into my music. I don’t know where it comes from. My sister was a new romantic and that wasn’t my thing. I think initially it was when I was around 9 or 10 and listening to the Style Council. I was so struck by the lyrics on Our Favourite Shop. It really spoke to me. Especially at that age when you feel invincible and think you can change the world.
I grew up surrounded by Mods, scooter boys and casuals so it was a very male influence early on. I loved the idea of belonging to a tribe and then when The Stone Roses hit the scene that was it for me. They opened so many doors. I then moved in all directions from 60’s psyche to Prog rock to Indie to dance and ‘rave’. I love avant-garde and experimental. Death metal, drone. My tastes are getting heavier as I’m getting older.
I got involved with Adrian Flannagan of The Eccentronic Research Council (ERC) after he contacted me on Facebook many Moons ago. I had been to see the fabulous Chrome Hoof at Islington Mill and he said if you like their music you will like mine. I then ended up on Kersal Moor dressed as a rabbit filming a music video.
Johnny Marr came about as he had done the section in an edition of The Guardian called 'My Cultural Highlights’ and talked about a British Indie film I’d been in called Keeping Rosy. So I sent him a letter (care of his management) to say ’Thank you’ and he wrote back and asked if I fancied meeting up at some point for a cuppa…which I did. People say ‘don’t meet your heroes’ but Johnny Marr may possibly be the loveliest and most talented person on the planet!''


Adrian (who is part of the ERC) is a mutual friend of ours who I once witnessed sending the dancefloor of a very cool night club in Manchester into a frenzy by dropping ‘Do The Conga’ by Black Lace. What’s the best thing you’ve ever seen him do?
''Getting Sean Lennon to DJ at the Picture House in Sheffield!''
What tunes are currently getting a spin on your record player at the moment?
''I have Takeshi Terauchi 'Nippon Guitars , Reissue of Can’s ‘Future Days’ and Robbie Basho 'Visions of The Country'.''
I also heard you were writing a musical, how’s that going and what’s it about?
''It is going ok…We have been workshopping it with some brilliant performers recently. If I told you what it was about...I would have to kill you''
You're also involved in charity work regarding the situation in Palestine, how is that going and what can people do to help?
''It’s about education and understanding... Check out Medical Aid for Palestine. They are a fantastic charity delivering urgent and vital medical services.''
Good Measure’s home, Manchester and its surrounding areas seem to have produced more than its fair share of amazing actors, musicians and comedians, why do you think this is?
''We don’t take ourselves too seriously and we know how to graft!''
What have you got coming up in the future and where can we see/hear you next?
''I have just finished a BBC drama called Rules Of The Game. Late autumn finally ‘Anne’ is coming out on ITV about the amazing Hillsborough campaigner Anne Williams. It follows her quest for justice for her son Kevin Williams and the then 96 which sadly has recently risen to 97 people who were unlawfully killed at Hillsborough.''