1 5 mins 11 yrs

Peaky Blinders: British TV at its best!


September sees BBC Two bring us a fantastic but brutal insight of post-war Birmingham in new drama, Peaky Blinders. Last week I attended the BFI screening followed by a cast Q&A, including Cillian Murphy, Helen McCrory and the show’s brilliant director, Otto Bathurst, (who brought us Black Mirror and Criminal Justice), alongside creator and writer of the show, Steven Knight, who based the programme on his own family who lived in Birmingham during that time.

The six-part series set in Birmingham 1919 focuses on ex army soldiers who are now apart of a anti-political gang. Thomas Shelby (Cillian Murphy – 28 Days Later, Batman Begins, Inception) is the leader of the gang which goes by the name of “The Peaky Blinders” because of their practice of sewing razor blades into the peaks of their caps. The gang, who also includes Authur Shelby (Paul AndersonThe Firm, Sherlock Holmes, The Sweeney), Freddie (Iddo GoldbergRun Fatboy Run, The Tourist, Waking The Dead) and Aunt Polly Gray (Helen McCrory – The Queen, Harry Potter, Skyfall), makes money from illegal betting, protection and the black market; The Shelbys is a family not to be reckoned with. But when a crate of guns goes missing from an arms factory (Thanks to Thomas), rival gangs such as Communist revolutionaries and IRA Fenians shows up and starts looking for them. Meanwhile ruthless police chief from Belfast, CI Campbell (Sam NeillJurassic Park, Bicentennial Man, Daybreakers), is ordered by young Winston Churchill to take over the police force, find the gang and recover the missing film.

Peaky Blinders is a spectacular picture of England which was taken from our secret history. The programme is like a big movie on our little screens all across the country. As the first piece of TV drama that writer Steven Knight has created, he explained how he came across the idea of making such a remarkable series, he stated “This story is based on my own family legend and historical fact. It is a fiction woven into a factual landscape which is breathtakingly dramatic and cinematic, but which for very English reasons has been consigned to historical text books. I wanted to tell this story as it was being seen through as eight year old child.”

What is also very funny is the hard work of the old Birmingham accent which the actors and actresses struggled on, which all admitted that they all listened to rock star Ozzy Osbourne talking because he is the only one with the very old Birmingham accent which is less apparent these days. Asking Cillian Murphy, (who audiences are probably used to seeing in big blockbuster films), what inspired him to take part in this particular drama as his first TV role, he answered “I’ve watched a lot of old gangster films like The Godfather and Gangs of New York so when I got this offer I knew it was something that I’d love to do. A lot of my acting buddies also gave me the push to be apart of this amazing project. Also it was the writing that got me going. Everytime I get an offer, I always check the writing first and then I see if it’s what I want to do.”

For me, Peaky Blinders is the next best thing! The director Otto Bathurst easily admitted that all he wanted to do was to make “A decent fun British programme” which he has clearly done! The only way I can describe this programme is “Downton Abbey on class A drugs!” Violence, sex, drugs, and gambling. It’s also a very good insight in our secret history because no one has ever heard of ‘The Peaky Blinders’ and this programme is the mother of a new case of British history. Overall it’s packed with a brilliant cast and crew and it wouldn’t surprise me if this programme ends up getting BAFTAS and amongst other TV awards in the future.

British Television is back on top thanks to the Peaky Blinders!

Peaky Blinders begins on BBC Two, Thursday, 12th September at 9pm.

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