In the show she plays Leila, who starts dating men and women when she splits up with Peake’s character Sadie. Akhavan, a native New Yorker who has lived in London for three years, said: “One of my favourite things about working in the UK is I don’t come to any actors with baggage.
"I didn’t grow up with a lot of these actors and Maxine was someone whose work I was not familiar with. Everyone who read the script would say, ‘Sadie’s the Maxine Peake type’.
"She is someone with intelligence and integrity and a very trustworthy, loveable woman so when it came to finding her she was the top of our list, the ideal candidate.”
Peake said: “I’m thrilled? Or am I excited? Maybe I’m both but at the least very happy to be part of The Bisexual. Desiree is a really fresh, original and exciting voice and dead cool to boot. It’s fun, heartbreaking and thought-provoking and I get to ride a scooter — what’s not to like?”
Akhavan, who played Chandra in series four of Lena Dunham’s cult hit Girls, wants the show to dispel the taboo around bisexuality.
She said: “It is so taboo that I feel uncomfortable saying it. The root of all of this, the reason I wanted to write all this, is because I hated calling myself that. I think people think, ‘Why would you not choose?’ And I think it’s hard for people to relate to, being equally attracted to men and women.”
Akhavan said the show was “a lot about London”. She added: “We’re shooting everything in Hackney. London is the most diverse place I’ve ever been, more so than New York, it’s much more of a world vibe.”
The Bisexual arrives on Channel 4 later this year.