DIVIDED chambers and a complicated romance await fans of BBC courtroom drama Silk, starring Maxine Peake.

The actress, who was raised in Westhoughton, will be back on screens as barrister Martha Costello on Monday.

Returning for a third series, feelings are running high when a murder trial close to home sends shockwaves through Shoe Lane Chambers.

Stage and screen star Maxine, who went to Westhoughton High School and Canon Slade, said: “I think Martha has always been teetering on the brink of losing control but recent events have pushed her to the edge. It was good to let rip.”

As an appearance from someone in Martha’s past compels her to mix her personal and professional life, what does this mean for her and her future at the bar?

Maxine, aged 39, who also stars in BBC drama The Village, said: “Martha has to start to reassess what is really important in her life.

“This person’s arrival forces Martha to remember the person she was and why she embarked on the career she did.

“She realises that things have changed greatly and that her teenage goals and ideals have gone somewhat out of the window.”

Clive, played by Rupert Penry-Jones, has gained his silk and is now a QC and, as he and Martha get closer, a change in direction for the chambers could seriously divide their interests. Meanwhile Billy, played by Neil Stuke, is struggling to cope with the secret of his illness and new practice manager Harriet, played by Miranda Raison, sends ripples through the clerks’ room.

A shock resignation jolts the chambers and Billy begins to take steps to ensure the future of Shoe Lane, with or without him.

Maxine, who will play Hamlet in a radical re-imagining of the Shakespeare classic at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre later this year, said: “Martha is really unsettled about the changes.

“Shoe Lane is her family and it feels like the unit is disintegrating. Martha is concerned about Harriet and her tactics.”

Silk is on BBC One on Monday at 9pm.