What did Maxine Peake want to be when she grew up? | ActionAid UK

Maxine Peake is a stage, film and television actress, best-known for iconic shows such as Shameless and Dinnerladies, and most recently The Village. But that wasn't the plan when she was little! In this one-off interview she tells us what she wanted to be when she was grown-up, and why sometimes our dreams about the future don’t turn out how we imagine.

Maxine Peake as a child
Maxine Peake as a (rather adorable) child


What three things were best about being a child?

The lack of responsibility. The permission and right to play. And unbridled imagination.

When you were small, what were the three things you couldn’t live without?

My teddy, Ted (original), that growled when you tipped him backwards. My Grandad brought him back from a coach trip to Russia — my Nan Ellen and Grandad Jim. They were wonderful.

When you were a child what did you want to be when you grew up?

A bus driver or a ballerina. I went to ballet classes when I was little, but spent too much time at the back talking instead of paying attention. Nothing’s changed! Also, I was never quite the right ‘build’!

Imagining the future

How did you envision the future as a child, what did you think it would be like? How is it different to what you imagined?

I can’t really remember thinking much about my future when I was young. I had very few personal plans. I did think, however, that we we would be in a better world politically and financially. How wrong I was.

What piece of advice would you give to your 10-year-old self?

Don’t rush through life. Don’t try and grow up too quickly. Don’t worry so much — there’s plenty of time for that.


What one thing would you change about Christmas?

The obscene commerciality of it all.

Well, while Maxine may not have achieved her childhood dream of being a bus driver, or a ballerina(!), she has gone on to become an incredibly successful actress. And her happy childhood, filled with loving family, lots of time to play, and her all important teddy bear — Ted, no doubt played a big part in that.

Childhood isn’t like that for everyone. Especially not for children living in poverty. In countries like Democratic Republic of CongoAfghanistan and Myanmar, just getting enough food each day takes hard work from all the family. Children have responsibilities from a very young age. They don’t have toys to play with or comfort them. And they don’t get Christmas presents. They’re lucky if they get one meal a day.

You could change that. This Christmas, as you plan to buy presents for all your loved ones, please also take a moment to think about children across the world who won’t get any, and consider sponsoring just one of them. For less than 50p a day, you could give a child — and their community — the chance of a better future.