Actresses are victims of 'class snobbery'

The actress Maxine Peake has attacked what she believes is the continuing class snobbery within the television industry.

The star, 36, who made her name as sex-crazed Veronica in the Channel 4 drama Shameless, criticised attempts by executives to make her soften her Lancashire accent, and said there were too few working-class women at the top of the industry.

Her outburst follows reports that the BBC controller Danny Cohen had complained that the Corporation's content was too focused on the middle class.

Peake told Radio Times: "If you look at actors, loads are working class, but look at women and there is only Samantha Morton really. All the others – Kate Winslet, Keira Knightley, Emily Blunt, Rebecca Hall – they are all brilliant, but there is no female working class."

Peake, who was born in Bolton and grew up on a council estate, is to play the lead role of an aspiring QC in the new BBC1 drama Silk.