WATCH: Preston boy to star in Mike Leigh film Peterloo

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A young boy has been cast in a blockbuster film to mark the 200th anniversary of the notorious Peterloo Massacre.


Ten-year-old Leo Ashton, of Preston, will star as the grandson of Nellie, played by Maxine Peake, in the Mike Leigh film Peterloo.

Leo Ashton, of Preston, in the trailer on set of Peterloo, in Kent

Leo Ashton, of Preston, in the trailer on set of Peterloo, in Kent

Read more: WATCH: Melanie Ash talks about Meladrama stage school in Preston and her personal play, The Secret


Leo, whose mum Melanie Ash runs stage school Meladrama, said: “I went to the audition, along with a few other pupils from Meladrama, and I got a recall. I got down to the final two and didn’t think I would get it but I did.
“My mum told me as she picked me up from school. I got really excited.
“Being in a film was a fantastic experience and I really enjoyed it. It is a very meaningful film.

"I filmed in Kent and I got to meet Maxine Peake and Pearce Quigley. Mike Leigh was also very nice to me. I shook his hand six times on the first day as I wanted to thank him and say I really enjoyed it. He told me I didn’t have to shake his hand every time.
“I play a boy called George and my family is affected by the massacre. In my scene, things are calm at the start as we all go to a big picnic to vote. Then the army comes and there is lots of shooting. We were doing stunts with horses and my mum was scared I would get knocked.”
The British-made film will be released in the UK on November 2 and in the United States a week later.

Leo added: "I won't be able to attend the premier as the film is too violent but my mum is going to hold a party for me on the night."

Leo Ashton

Leo Ashton


The youngster is also starring in a new ITV drama which will be aired next year. Details have not yet been released.

He added: "I really enjoyed doing that. It is very different to doing a film."

Video taken by Melanie Ash and shows Leo talking about his experience on set

What is The Peterloo Massacre?

The Peterloo Massacre occurred at St Peter's Field, Manchester, England, on 16 August 1819, when cavalry charged into a crowd of 60,000–80,000 who had gathered to demand the reform of parliamentary representation.

An estimated 18 people, including four women and a child, died from cuts and trampling. Nearly 700 men, women and children received extremely serious injuries.