My Secret Life: Maxine Peake, actress, 33


The house I grew up in... was a semi-detached in Bolton with a nice little back garden leading to a farmer's field, so there were incidents of cows breaking into the garden on a regular basis.

When I was a child I wanted to be... Marti Cane. She was great, one of the first figures on telly who I looked at and thought, "She is cool!"

The moment that changed me for ever... moving to London, aged 21, to take a place at drama school. I hated London. I wondered: "Where are all the cows and dogs?" Luckily, I fell in love with it after a couple of years.

My greatest inspiration... is my granddad, Jim, who'll kill me for saying that. He was a member of the communist party and opened up a world of self education and the possibilities in life flooded before my eyes.

My real-life villain... is unoriginal: George Bush. The man scares the life out of me; his policies, his arrogance, his eyes. I have sleepless nights about the things that he might do to the world.

If I could change one thing about myself... I'd try not to feel like I have to please all the people all of the time. It's impossible and tiring.

At night I dream of... dark things. I have recurring dreams about losing my temper, which become quite violent. I dread to think what that says about me.

What I see when I look in the mirror... is complications. I'm someone who's hard work and am certainly my own worst enemy. Every time I look in the mirror, I let out a small sigh.

My style icon... is, without doubt, Vivienne Westwood. She is so beautiful and inspirational that when I met her once, at the theatre, I was so overwhelmed that I couldn't speak. I hope I grow to be just like her.

My favourite item of clothing... is a pair of old, Victorian-style Agnes B lace-up brown boots. I've had them re-soled over a million times and have to physically stop myself from wearing them to bed.

I wish I'd never worn... anything that I wore in my progressive rock stage, which I embraced whole-heartedly. It might not have been so bad if I weren't living in Bolton, where I stood out like a sore thumb. Once, I was kitted out in a long suede waistcoat and listening to The Gong, and someone shouted at me "love, you missed your stop!"

It's not fashionable but I like... and it's a Northern cliché - my pair of Derby lace-up clogs. They're so comfy and but apparently not everyone appreciates them. People have been known to do a double-take in the street.

You wouldn't know it but I'm very good at... horse-riding. I actually used to compete at show-jumping when I was a youngun.

You may not know it but I'm no good at... concentrating. I get easily distracted and become a bit of a giddy giggler. I'm not good at taking myself seriously and laughing at myself helps ease the pressure.

All my money goes on... CDs, all sorts. I have quite a wide taste, lots of new folk, like The Fall, Patti Smith and The Smiths. A bit of rockabilly is up there, in fact, I've been through every possible phase and even have Casualty left over.

I f I have time to myself... sleep, listen to music and think. It's great having time to just sit back and work through things in my mind, it helps put life into perspective.

I drive/ride... (very badly), a little Ford Ka, the sports version; it has slightly chunkier wheels and is called Derek. We have lots of practice in reversing into walls and other people's cars.

My house/flat is... at the moment, not mine. I'm in the process of buying a sweet house in Salford and am staying with friend and his partner in south east London. It's really lovely, with lots of Hogarth prints on the walls.

My most valuable possession is... my family; they drive me mad but I love them to bits.

My favourite building... is the Working Class Movement Library in Salford; a beautiful Victorian brick building run by an old couple who started collecting left-wing literature and banners, it is the most archive.

Movie heaven... is an afternoon beginning with Morgan and a Suitable Case for Treatment, followed by the Goonies - with a cup of tea and a teacake.

A book that changed me... was really a play, Road by Jim Cartwright. I was about 14, at the age where I'd usually just read something and shrug "yeah, it's alright". The language and imagery in this was so amazing that I wasn't ashamed to admit my joy.

My favourite work of art... is a toss-up between Morrissey and Arthur Dooley's The Stations of the Cross. It's held in a Roman Catholic parish church in Leyland, and I'm not in any way religious, which makes the power of the image more impressive, somehow.

The last album I bought/downloaded... is quite embarrassing, Violin Jazz 1929-1934. When preparing a role I find it useful to listen to music from the era, in order to gage the atmosphere of the period. My latest play is set in the 30's, hence this download.

The person who really makes me laugh... is Ronnie Barker. Of course an amazing comedian, he's also one of the most under-rated actors; one of the finest we've ever had, in my opinion: a genius.

The shop I can't walk past... would have to be the Margaret Howell shop on Wigmore Street. It's perfect for little treats, and I can't resist the 50's-style tailoring.

The best invention ever... has to be the radio, I can't live without. A self-confessed Radio 2 junky, I'm a real sucker for Brian Matthews, on a Saturday morning, followed by Jonathan Ross. My weekend isn't the same without it.

In ten years time, I hope to be... happy and fulfilled by work that I do.

My greatest regret... is selling my BMX to a juck shop, for a fiver, when I was young. The moment I walked out of the shop I had to repress tears, I knew immediately the mistake I'd made.

My life in seven words... fun, lucky, chaotic, simple, challenging, changeable and northern.

Born in Salford on 14 July 1974, Maxine Peake is a stage and television actress. Having trained at Rada, she is best known for her role as mouthy Veronica on Channel 4's Shameless and received critical acclaim for her portrayal of Myra Hindley in See No Evil: The Moors Murders. She will play Tony Hancock's Wife in the forthcoming BBC4 drama Hancock and Joan and stars in The Children's Hour, 5 March – 5 April at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester. She lives with friends in south-east London.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Management Trainer

£30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Exciting career opportunity to join East...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Scientist / Research Assistant

£18000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious start-up company b...

Reach Volunteering: Chair of Trustees

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Do you love the Engl...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game