The Deep Blue Sea At West Yorkshire Playhouse

SHE's appeared in everything from gritty drama Shameless to chirpy sitcom Dinnerladies –now she's about to grace a stage in Leeds.

Maxine Peake will take the lead in Terence Rattigan's The Deep Blue Sea as part of a special year at West Yorkshire Playhouse in which the institution celebrates its 21st birthday.

This is very much a return visit since she has performed at the playhouse before. In 2002 she featured opposite Christopher Eccleston in a memorable version of Hamlet.

"It is a fantastic piece of playwriting and a fabulous part. Playing Hester in Deep Blue Sea is a role I didn't want to turn down." said Peake. "I'm very much looking forward to working at West Yorkshire Playhouse again and am excited about returning to the stage after a break of three years."

Securing the actor for the part is something of a coup since she's now considered one of the most adaptable and talented stars of the screen and, increasingly, on stage.

Peake has tackled an array of roles on TV ranging from moors murderer Myra Hindley to 'the other woman' in a dramatisation of John Prescott's affair with his secretary.

She's also starred in The Cherry Orchard at the National Theatre and The Children's Hour, which landed her a best actress accolade in the Manchester Evening News Theatre Awards.

Director Sarah Esdaile said: "Maxine is an extraordinary actor and one with the rare capacity to access the full emotional welly to play Rattigan's Hester. I am thrilled and excited to be working with her."

Ian Brown, artistic director of West Yorkshire Playhouse added: "I can't think of a more exciting actor to tackle this than Maxine. Her performance will get our 21st birthday year off to a flying start."

Feb 18 to March 12, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Quarry Hill, Leeds. Tel: 0113 2137700.

PRODUCTION: Birdsong will visit West Yorkshire Playhouse on February 13.

Birdsong: Critically-acclaimed play visits Leeds