When we first encounter Steerpike the kitchen boy, he is trying to escape from Swelter’s kitchen. Using Flay’s footsteps as a marker to get into the upper world of the castle, he seems well – just a boy. He is seventeen years old with high shoulders, smouldering eyes and obviously intelligent. From this first meeting, Steerpike seems harmless enough. He is quick to observe Flay’s dislike of Swelter though and play on it. Indeed, this quickness coupled with keen observation helps him insinuate himself at every opportunity.
In the BBC adaptation, Steerpike was played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who I felt was much too good looking (though these looks do ‘improve’ as the story unfolds). There are many sides to Steepike’s character and none of them sentimental. He is indeed an opportunist – even creating opportunities where none exist, – which shall be seen.
HERE is the wonderful website of Gormenghast
Lot’s of information about Peake and his work at Peake Studies