Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Peake: Class snobbery rife in drama

Maxine Peake thinks people are too concerned about accent and class

Maxine Peake has lambasted continued class snobbery within the acting industry.

The actress, 36, who made her name as sex-crazed Veronica in Channel 4 drama Shameless, said she struggled to name more than one other working class British actress at the top of the profession.

Maxine, who is about to play the lead role of an aspiring QC in BBC1 drama Silk, criticised attempts by TV drama bosses to make her soften her Lancashire accent as ignorance.

She told the Radio Times: "I was working this out the other day. If you look at actors, loads are working class, but look at women and there's only Samantha Morton really.

"All the others - Kate Winslet, Keira Knightley, Emily Blunt, Rebecca Hall - they're all brilliant, but there's no female working class.

"I remember feeling, at drama school, that if you were male and working class you were a bit of a poet, a working-class hero, but if you were female you were just a bit gobby and a bit brassy and common."

Maxine, who grew up on a council estate, said many people still assumed that the broader the accent, the more working class a person was.

The actress, whose father was a lorry driver and security guard, said of preparing for her QC role in BBC drama Silk: "I had to soften my accent.

"They go, 'OK, so this character is from the North, but she went to university, Maxine, and has lived in London for 10 years.'

"So I went, 'OK, well I went to Rada and lived in London for 13 years' and they go, 'Yeah, but she's lost her accent a bit more than you have'... It's still rife. We're still obsessed with accent and class in this country."

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