BBC’s Rules of the Game star Maxine Peake, who also recently starred in ITV drama Anne, has a long-term partner who is an art director
Image: BBC/The Forge/Brian Sweeney)
Maxine Peake has become a national treasure and one of our finest actresses.
Born in Bolton to a lorry drive and part-time careworker, Maxine joined youth theatre companies and played for Wigan Ladies rugby league during her teenage years.
Her path to stardom wasn’t easy, as Maxine was initially rejected by every theatre education company in North West England.
However, after years of struggling, she got a place at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) aged 21 and got her first major role in kids’ show Children’s Ward.
Then in 1998 she got her big break on BBC sitcom ‘dinnerladies’, which was written and co-produced by the late great Victoria Wood.
After the first series, when Maxine was 15st, she was advised by Wood to lose weight to avoid being typecast.
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Aged 24, Maxine – who played Twinkle in the popular sitcom – joined WeightWatchers and lost 5st in nine months.
It was so fast she had to wear a ‘fat suit’ in the second series.
In 2002, she told the Her Spirit podcast: “I still have the mindset of being a big girl. Sometimes I think, ‘was I happier when I was bigger?’. Because it’s a good protection – it’s a good armour.
“I thought ‘Men are not interested because I’m big’. People say ‘Oh, but you’ve got a lovely personality’.
“I lost weight and thought ‘Have I even got an all right personality?’.”
She shed 5st in her 20s, but Maxine often wonders if she might have been happier before.
The actress, now 47, is still careful about comfort eating, admitting she can spend “a couple of days just gorging”.
She said. “I’ll be in the kitchen and I don’t realise I’ve hoovered up six biscuits and a slice of bread while I’m thinking about what to eat for my lunch.”
Maxine, who went on to star in Shameless, isn’t married but lives in Salford with her long-term partner, art director Pawlo Wintoniuk.
Pawlo, who Maxine refers to as her “soulmate”, works in film and has directed Another Me (2013), Blood (2012) and Away (2016).
“He’s better informed than I am, and he thinks I’m a lot better informed than I am. Which makes me laugh,” she said in an interview with The Guardian in 2017.
“Usually. We never row about politics.”
Just last week, Maxine was on our screens in powerful ITV documentary Anne.
The Hillsborough campaigner fought for justice for the 97 victims who lost their lives on that fateful day in Sheffield in 1989 after her 15-year-old son died at the FA Cup semi-final.
What struck Maxine Peake most about Anne Williams was her unwavering resilience.
The Shameless actress wanted to say ‘yes’ to taking on the role of the inspirational Hillsborough campaigner before she had even read the script of ITV drama Anne.
“She never gave up. There’s times where maybe she felt like it but she continued on,” said Maxine on This Morning last week.
“She never got bitter. She was angry but she channeled her anger and that’s what drove her forward. She was very dignified with it.
“She famously said, ‘They’re trying to grind me down, but I’ll grind them down first’.”
Maxine has received praise from Anne’s daughter, Sara Williams, who was just 10 when her brother died at Hillsborough.
While she knew Maxine would do a “really good job” of playing their mum she was stunned by how good her performance turned out to be in the drama named after her mother.
“When we went to see the final version I thought, how can someone play my mum and feel like my mum? At first, you watch it thinking, ‘she looks a bit like her’. But by the end, I felt I was watching Mum,” said Sara.
The actress is still in touch with Sara and went to Formby for her daughter’s 21st birthday party, where she was pleased to see a lot of survivors.
Now Maxine is switching from ITV to BBC this week for the start of explosive new drama Rules of the Game.
Maxine plays Sam Thompson in the office-based thriller about sexual politics in the modern workplace.
BBC/The Forge/Matt Squire)
Under a company’s shiny happy surface, a new recruit cracks open the doors of a hidden scandal.
Sam is a strong-willed manager at a family-run business in the North-West of England. It’s business as usual – until she arrives in the office one day to find a dead body and is forced to confront some uncomfortable truths and murderous secrets, both past and present.
The series, which also stars Rakhee Thakrar and Alison Steadman, looks set to only be a one season wonder.
Speaking at a launch event, Maxine said: “I would feel this is definitely a one, as the Americans say, season. But who knows?
“Maybe I couldn’t spend another summer locked in a big glass tower building.”
*Rules of the Game airs tonight on BBC One at 9pm
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