Best known for her role as a cleaner in Shameless, (UK Channel 4 drama) 35 year old Maxine Peake donned corsets and period clothes to play pioneering 'out' lesbian Anne Lister in The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister, screened on UK BBC 2 Monday night.
Lister, who was commonly referred to as "the first modern lesbian," and also called "Fred" by her lover and "Gentleman Jack" by residents in her hometown of Halifax in England, lived from the late 1700's to the early 1800's, and wrote voraciously in a diary, which is not only showing on the BBC but it's making the rounds at American lesbian and gay film festivals, including San Francisco's Frameline.
But back to the BBC production... The lovely Maxine portrayed Anne Lister with convincing lesbian charm. There is no doubt will have gained an instant adoring lesbian following. She had her hand up many petticoats and no doubt Queen Victoria would have said, 'We are not amused!'
Oh but we most certainly were.
Much of the pre-show press hype surrounded Tina O'Brien, a former Coronation Street Star, (she played a teenage mother) and is an absolute stunner. It's reported that Maxine believed viewers would tune in mainly to see their kiss because of Tina's high profile and perhaps they did. Tina was perfectly cast in the role of demure Miss Brown, a small and beautifully formed young lady, whom Miss Lister sought to court as her special friend.
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And where did Lister and her special friend meet? Why, in Church, of course. As depicted in the film, Anne surveyed the ladies of the congregation and stopped when she spotted Miss Brown's inviting cleavage and big brown seductive eyes. But, later, to Miss Lister's utter dismay, she discovered pretty and petite Miss Brown was a rubbish kisser!
But never fear, a passionate scene later on between Anne Lister (Maxine) and her companion Marianna (played by Anna Madeley) was so steamy I thought somebody had left a kettle switched on!
It appears that Maxine has a penchant for playing lesbian characters. Anne Lister is her second; her first was the sinister Miss Wade in BBC One's Little Dorrit, another period drama.
Will Maxine become typecast as a lesbian? Let's hope so. We all want to see much more of her -- with or without her corsets!