Little Dorrit, a major BBC One Dickens adaptation
Maxine Peake plays Miss Wade
Maxine Peake portrays the enigmatic Miss Wade. The Meagles meet her in Marseilles, and it soon becomes evident that she is harbouring a menacing secret.
The actress, perhaps best known as the fantastically frank Veronica in Shameless, illuminates us about Miss Wade.
"She's mysterious and dark. She had a hard time as an orphan, and that's why she has turned into this strange paranoid narcissist. She's out for revenge and will crush anyone who gets in her path. That's what affects Arthur…"
The actress, who earlier this year was outstanding as the female lead in BBC Four's biopic, Hancock And Joan, muses that Miss Wade has been a choice part to play.
"She's not very well liked, and that's great fun to portray! As a performer, you want to get your teeth into a role and really have fun with it, and that's what I've been able to do with Miss Wade. Characters like this are an actor's dream!"
She has especially enjoyed collaborating with such a talented cast.
"There are lots of people I've worked with before, so we sit and have a cup of tea and a gossip. It's been great! I have a lot of scenes with Freema (Agyeman, who plays Tattycoram), who's brilliant."
Maxine, who made a big impact playing Myra Hindley in See No Evil: The Moors Murders, reckons that we keep returning to period dramas because "they evoke another world. They create a compelling atmosphere by conjuring up our history with all these wonderful costumes and locations."
We have a particular fondness for Charles Dickens, according to Maxine.
"His characters can sometimes be out there, but they're always very well-rounded," observes the actress, who has also starred in Fairytales: Cinderella, Early Doors, Dinnerladies, Confessions Of A Diary Secretary, and Christmas Lights.
"The stories crack along at a rare pace, and the author is able to go into every aspect of life, from the very funny to the very dark. It's such a rich mixture.
"People loved Bleak House when it was on BBC One, and I think they will love Little Dorrit just as much," continues Maxine, who is about to play a repressed housekeeper in Marple ('this year, I will be mainly playing repressed!')
"Viewers will think, 'that was great, let's have a look at the next one.' I hope it will open Dickens up and bring him to a new audience. He's such a universal writer. The characters may be in big hats and large sideburns, but they're still absolutely human stories."