Maxine Peake: Actors and barristers are similar – they’re both show-offs

The Silk star would rather work with sheepdogs than lawyers…


Could you defend yourself in court if you had to?


No, I’d get too frustrated and emotional. Although the DVLA has just mistakenly taken my dad’s driving licence off him so I suggested I could represent him. I hope he knows I was joking!

Are there similarities between barristers and actors?

I’ve socialised with a few of them and their personalities are all very similar to actors. Basically, they’re show-offs. I was at drama school with several actors who went off to become barristers, so there’s a definite connection.

Have you attended court trials?

Every year I spend about three or four days at the Old Bailey. I’ll be ignored, but I took Rupert [co-star Rupert Penry-Jones] and the women went all a-flutter. You could see the female barristers and jurors getting all breathless and pink-cheeked. It was hilarious.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

I love Splash! and Take Me Out. Not that I’d ever do Splash! It’s the parading on British TV in a swimming costume I couldn’t handle. I watch Take Me Out mainly for Paddy McGuinness. When we were younger we worked together as lifeguards at the Bolton Leisure Centre.

Did you ever save anyone?

No, we weren’t paying much attention, to be honest! We were always laughing too much. He was dead funny then and he’s not changed a bit.

Would you ever appear on Strictly or I’m a Celebrity..?

No, but if there was a celebrity One Man and His Dog, I’d be bang up for that. That show was so soothing and relaxing it was hypnotic.

Have you seen Benefits Street?

I’ve avoided it. Programmes like this add fuel to the fire of what I see as victimisation of the underclass in this country. I find it upsetting because the show is merely making a bad situation worse.

What shows do you never miss?

Toast of London is a must-watch. Matt Berry’s off-the-wall humour is slightly surreal and a little bit deviant. That’s why I also love House of Fools. Vic and Bob have always made me laugh and this is right up there with their best work.

What was your favourite show when you were a kid?

Citizen Smith. I used to make my grandad take me to the top of the multistorey car park so I could shout “Power to the people!” really loud.

Have you been watching the Winter Olympics?

No, I’m more of a rugby league girl. When I was 15 I played for Wigan Ladies for two years. But I wanted to go to drama school and I didn’t think a broken nose and cauliflower ear would help my cause. I made a couple of bad tackles on a girl and she quietly said if I did it again she’d kick my head in. Luckily, I could run fast.


Yes Minister or The Thick of It? The Thick of It

University Challenge or Question Time? University Challenge – I do have a little thing for Paxman.

Have I Got News For You or Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe? Have I Got News For You

Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsay? Uurgh, cooking! Neither.

Pointless or Countdown? Pointless

Silk, tonight 9:00pm, BBC1