Peaky Blinders (TV series)

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Peaky Blinders
Peaky Blinders titlecard.jpg
GenreHistorical fiction
Crime drama
Created bySteven Knight
Written by
  • Steven Knight
  • Toby Finlay
  • Stephen Russell
Directed by
Opening theme"Red Right Hand" by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series5
No. of episodes30 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
Producer(s)Katie Swinden
Production location(s)City of Bradford, Bradford, Keighley, Leeds, Bolton, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Dudley, Stockport.
CinematographyGeorge Steel
Running time55–65 minutes
Production company(s)
Original networkBBC
Picture format1080i HDTV
Audio format
First shown inUnited Kingdom
Original release12 September 2013 (2013-09-12) –
External links
Official website

Peaky Blinders is a British period crime drama television series created by Steven Knight. Set in Birmingham, England, the series follows the exploits of the Shelby crime family in the direct aftermath of the First World War. The fictional family is loosely based on a real 19th century urban youth gang of the same name, who were active in the city from the 1890s to the early twentieth century.

Peaky Blinders features an ensemble cast, with Cillian Murphy, Helen McCrory, and Paul Anderson starring as Tommy Shelby, Elizabeth "Polly" Gray, and Arthur Shelby respectively; the gang's second-most senior members.

In 2018,[1] after the show's Drama Series win at the BAFTA TV Awards, Knight confirmed his "ambition of making it a story of a family between two wars, and by ending it with the first air raid siren in Birmingham", which was 25 June 1940.[2] After the conclusion of the fourth series, he confirmed that it would take another three series (seven in total) to complete the story up to that point.[3] The fifth series premiered on BBC One on 25 August 2019 and finished on 22 September 2019.


Peaky Blinders is a gangster family epic set in Birmingham, England, in 1919, several months after the end of the First World War in November 1918. The story centres on the Peaky Blinders gang and their ambitious and highly cunning boss Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy). The gang comes to the attention of Major Chester Campbell (Sam Neill), a Detective Chief Inspector in the Royal Irish Constabulary (R.I.C.) sent over by Winston Churchill from Belfast, where he had been sent to clean up the city of the Irish Republican Army (I.R.A.), Communists, gangs and common criminals.[4][5] Winston Churchill (played by Andy Nyman in Series 1 and Richard McCabe in Series 2) charged him with suppressing disorder and uprising in Birmingham and recovering a stolen cache of arms meant to be shipped to Libya.[6][7][8] The first series concludes on 3 December 1919 – "Black Star Day", the event where the Peaky Blinders plan to take over Billy Kimber's betting pitches at the Worcester Races.

The second series sees the Shelby family expand their criminal organisation in the "South and North while maintaining a stronghold in their Birmingham heartland."[9] It begins in 1921 and ends with a climax at Epsom racecourse on 31 May 1922 – Derby Day.[10] The third series starts and ends in 1924 as it follows Tommy and his family enter an even more dangerous world as they once again expand, this time, internationally. The third series also features Father John Hughes (Paddy Considine); Ruben Oliver (Alexander Siddig), a painter whom Polly enlists to paint her portrait; Russian Duchess Tatiana Petrovna (Gaite Jansen); and Linda Shelby (Kate Phillips), new wife of Arthur.

The fourth series begins on Christmas Eve 1925 and ends following the general strike of May 1926 with Tommy being elected as a Member of Parliament in 1927. The fifth series begins two years later on 29 October 1929 (Black Tuesday) and ends on 7 December 1929, the morning after a rally led by Oswald Mosley.



  • Cillian Murphy as Thomas "Tommy" Shelby OBE DCM MM MP, the leader of the Peaky Blinders.
  • Helen McCrory as Elizabeth "Polly" Gray, née Shelby, the aunt of Tommy and his siblings, and treasurer of the Peaky Blinders.
  • Paul Anderson as Arthur Shelby, Jr., the oldest Shelby sibling.
  • Sam Neill as Chief Inspector/Major Chester Campbell (series 1–2), an Ulster Protestant Irish policeman drafted from Belfast.
  • Annabelle Wallis as Grace Burgess, later Shelby (series 1–3, 5), a former undercover agent and Irish Protestant who marries Tommy.
  • Joe Cole as John Shelby (series 1–4), the third-youngest Shelby brother.
  • Sophie Rundle as Ada Thorne, née Shelby, the Shelby brothers' only sister.
  • Iddo Goldberg as Freddie Thorne (series 1), a known communist who fought in the Great War; Ada's husband.
  • Ned Dennehy as Charlie Strong, owner of a boatyard and an uncle figure to Tommy.
  • Benjamin Zephaniah as Jeremiah 'Jimmy' Jesus, a preacher and friend of the gang.
  • Charlie Creed-Miles as Billy Kimber (series 1), a local kingpin who runs the local races.
  • David Dawson as Roberts (series 1), Billy Kimber's lawyer.
  • Finn Cole as Michael Gray (series 2–5), Polly's biological son.
  • Charlotte Riley as May Carleton (series 2, 4), a wealthy widow who owns racehorses.
  • Tom Hardy as Alfred "Alfie" Solomons (series 2–5), the leader of a Jewish gang in Camden Town.
  • Noah Taylor as Darby Sabini (series 2), the leader of an Italian gang in Camden Town.
  • Packy Lee as Johnny Dogs (recurring series 1–2; main series 3–5), a Gypsy friend of Tommy Shelby's.
  • Aimee-Ffion Edwards as Esme Shelby, née Lee (recurring series 1–2, main series 3–4), John Shelby's wife.
  • Natasha O'Keeffe as Lizzie Stark, later Shelby (recurring series 1–2, main series 3–5): An ex-prostitute who works for Tommy as his secretary and the mother of Tommy's daughter Ruby.[11]
  • Paddy Considine as Father John Hughes (series 3), a priest working with Section D (The Economic League) in the British government.
  • Alexander Siddig as Ruben Oliver (series 3), a portrait artist in a romantic relationship with Polly Gray.
  • Gaite Jansen as Grand Duchess Tatiana Petrovna (series 3), a Russian princess.
  • Jan Bijvoet as Grand Duke Leon Petrovna (series 3), Grand Duchess Izabella's husband.
  • Dina Korzun as Grand Duchess Izabella (series 3), Princess Tatiana Petrovna's aunt.
  • Kate Phillips as Linda Shelby (recurring series 3, main series 4–5), Arthur Shelby's wife.
  • Ian Peck as Curly (recurring series 1–3, main series 4–5), assistant to Charlie Strong.
  • Charlie Murphy as Jessie Eden (series 4–5), a union convenor and lover of Tommy Shelby's.
  • Adrien Brody as Luca Changretta (series 4), a New York mafioso with a vendetta against the Shelby family.
  • Aidan Gillen as Aberama Gold (series 4–5), an ally of the Shelby Family's and lover of Polly Gray's.
  • Jack Rowan as Bonnie Gold (series 4–5), Aberama Gold's boxing champion son.
  • Kingsley Ben-Adir as Colonel Ben Younger (recurring series 4, main series 5), a young colonel who begins a relationship with Ada Thorne.
  • Anya Taylor-Joy as Gina Gray (series 5), Michael Gray's American wife.
  • Brian Gleeson as Jimmy McCavern (series 5), leader of the Billy Boys.
  • Sam Claflin as Sir Oswald Mosley (series 5), a fascist politician.
  • Cosmo Jarvis as Barney (series 5), a WWI comrade and old friend of Tommy's who is locked in an insane asylum.
  • Andy Nyman (recurring series 1), Richard McCabe (recurring series 2) and Neil Maskell (main series 5) as Winston Churchill
  • Kate Dickie as Mother Superior (series 5)
  • Andrew Koji as Brilliant Chang (series 5)


  • Alfie Evans-Meese (series 1) and Harry Kirton (series 2–5) as Finn Shelby, the fifth and youngest Shelby sibling.
  • Tommy Flanagan as Arthur Shelby, Sr. (series 1), the father of Tommy and his siblings'; Polly's brother.
  • Samuel Edward-Cook as Danny "Whizz-Bang" Owen (series 1), a former comrade of Tommy's who fought in the Great War.
  • Tony Pitts (series 1−4) as Sergeant/Inspector Moss, a policeman on the Peaky Blinders' payroll.
  • Kevin Metcalfe as Scudboat (series 1), a Peaky Blinders henchman.
  • Neil Bell as Harry Fenton (series 1), publican of The Garrison.
  • Lobo Chan as Mr Zhang (series 1), a Chinese businessman.
  • Tom Vaughan-Lawlor as Malacki Byrne (series 1)
  • Isabelle Estelle Corbusier as Yasmin Lipscomb (series 1)
  • Jeffrey Postlethwaite as Henry (series 1−2), a Peaky Blinders henchman.
  • Matthew Postlethwaite as Nipper (series 1−2), a Peaky Blinders henchman.
  • Jordan Bolger (series 2–4) and Daryl McCormack (series 5) as Isaiah Jesus, Jeremiah's son and a member of the gang.
  • Adam El Hagar as Ollie (series 2), Alfie Solomons's right hand.
  • Sam Hazeldine as Georgie Sewell (series 2), Darby Sabini's right hand.
  • Paul Bullion as Billy Kitchen (series 2), Black Country gang leader.
  • Rory Keenan as Donal Henry (series 2)
  • Simone Kirby as Irene O'Donnell (series 2), an IRA leader.
  • Wanda Opalinska as Rosemary Johnson (series 2, 4), Michael Gray's adopted mother.
  • Daniel Fearn as King Maine (series 2, 4), a Peaky Blinders henchman.
  • Josh O'Connor as James (series 2)
  • Dorian Lough as Mario (series 2)
  • Allan Hopwood as Abbey Heath (series 2)
  • Stephanie Hyam as Charlotte Murray (series 3), Michael Gray's girlfriend.
  • Kenneth Colley as Vicente Changretta (series 3), Luca Changretta's father.
  • Bríd Brennan as Audrey Changretta (series 3–4), Luca Changretta's mother.
  • Frances Tomelty as Bethany Boswell (series 3), an old Gypsy.
  • Richard Brake as Anton Kaledin (series 3)
  • Alex Macqueen as Patrick Jarvis MP (series 3)
  • Ralph Ineson as Connor Nutley (series 3), Lanchester factory foreman.
  • Peter Bankole as William Letso (series 3)
  • Richard Dillane as General Curran (series 3), Grace's uncle.
  • Dominic Coleman as Priest (series 3)
  • Wendy Nottingham as Mary (series 3), Tommy's housekeeper.
  • Billy Marwood (series 3) and Jenson Clarke (series 4–5) as Charles Shelby, son of Tommy Shelby and Grace Burgess.
  • Luca Matteo Zizzari as Matteo (series 4), one of Luca Changretta's henchmen.
  • Jake J. Meniani as Frederico (series 4), one of Luca Changretta's henchmen.
  • Graeme Hawley as Niall Devlin (series 4), the factory manager.
  • Pauline Turner as Frances (series 4−5), Tommy's housekeeper.
  • Donald Sumpter as Arthur Bigge, 1st Baron Stamfordham (series 4), the King's Private Secretary
  • Jamie Kenna as Billy Mills (series 4)
  • Joseph Long as Chef (series 4)
  • Andreas Muñoz as Antonio (series 4)
  • Ethan Picard-Edwards as Billy Shelby (series 4), son of Arthur Shelby, Jr. and Linda Shelby.
  • Dave Simon as Mulchay (series 4−5)
  • Emmett J. Scanlan as Billy Grade (series 5), an ex-footballer turned singer and an ally to the Peaky Blinders.
  • Heaven-Leigh Clee as Ruby Shelby (series 5), daughter of Tommy Shelby and Lizzie Stark.
  • Elliot Cowan as Michael Levitt (series 5), a Birmingham journalist.
  • Peter Campion as Mickey Gibbs (series 5), barman of The Garrison.
  • Charlene McKenna as Captain Swing (series 5), an IRA leader in Belfast.
  • Tim Woodward as Lord Suckerby (series 5), a High Court Judge.


SeriesEpisodesOriginally airedAverage UK viewers
First airedLast airedNetwork
1612 September 2013 (2013-09-12)17 October 2013 (2013-10-17)BBC Two2.38
262 October 2014 (2014-10-02)6 November 2014 (2014-11-06)2.18
365 May 2016 (2016-05-05)9 June 2016 (2016-06-09)2.85
4615 November 2017 (2017-11-15)20 December 2017 (2017-12-20)4.05
5625 August 2019 (2019-08-25)22 September 2019 (2019-09-22)BBC One7.20
  1. ^ The average rating for the first two series have been calculated using 7-day viewing figures, while the ratings for the latter three series use 28-day viewing figures.


Candidates for roles as teenage male extras queuing in Birmingham

Series 1[edit]

Peaky Blinders was created by Steven Knight, directed by Otto Bathurst, and produced by Katie Swinden. The writers are listed as Steven Knight, David Leland, Stephen Russell and Toby Finlay.[12]

Screen Yorkshire provided funding for the production through the Yorkshire Content Fund, ensuring that the majority of the show was filmed in Yorkshire as part of the deal.[13] The series was filmed in Birmingham, Bradford, Dudley, Leeds, Liverpool, and Port Sunlight.[14] Railway sequences were filmed between Keighley and Damems, using carriages from the Ingrow Museum of Rail Travel (owned by Vintage Carriages Trust),[15] and carriages owned by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Trust.[16] Many of the scenes for the show were shot at the Black Country Living Museum.[17]

Sam Neill enlisted the help of Northern Irish actors James Nesbitt and Liam Neeson to help him perfect a Northern Irish accent for the role of C.I. Campbell. In the end, he had to tone down the accent since the series is being marketed in the United States.[18]

Controversially, the production did not hire linguists to assist in the show, leading to the Gypsies' frequently speaking broken Romanian (as opposed to Romani).[19]

Series 2[edit]

A second series was commissioned shortly after the broadcast of the first and aired in October and November 2014.[9] On 11 January 2014, auditions were held in Digbeth area of Birmingham (near where parts of the series are set) for white and mixed race teenage male extras, resulting in lengthy queues.[20][21]

Series 3[edit]

Shortly after the final episode of the second series, the show announced via its official Twitter account that it had been renewed for a third series.[22] On 5 October 2015, the official Peaky Blinders Twitter account announced that filming had begun for series 3.[23] Filming wrapped on 22 January 2016, after 78 days of shooting.[24][25]

Series 4 and 5[edit]

During the initial broadcast of series 3, the BBC renewed Peaky Blinders for series 4 and 5, each of which comprises six episodes.[26] Filming for series 4 started in March 2017 and premiered on 15 November 2017 on BBC Two.[27] Creator and writer Steven Knight authored series 4 and will return to write every episode of series 5. Cillian Murphy has also confirmed his return for both series; the rest of the main cast are expected to return as well, and it was announced that Charlotte Riley was returning as May Carleton. Adrien Brody and Aidan Gillen were cast as new characters.[28] On 13 October 2017, it was confirmed that the show will not include The Weinstein Company or its logo in its credits from the fourth series onward, even though the company was formerly involved in the US distribution of the series.[29]

On 22 August 2018, the BBC confirmed that series 5 would be broadcast on BBC One.[30][31] Having already premiered to a select audience at Birmingham Town Hall on 18 July 2019, the series began airing on BBC One on 25 August 2019.[32]


On 5 May 2018, Steven Knight told Birmingham Press Club that "we are definitely doing [series] six and we will probably do seven".[33]


Peaky Blinders has received praise for its writing, acting, visuals, and stylish cinematography. David Renshaw of The Guardian summarised the series as a "riveting, fast-paced tale of post-first world war Birmingham gangsters", praising Murphy as the "ever-so-cool Tommy Shelby" and the rest of the cast for their "powerful performances."[34] Sarah Compton of The Daily Telegraph gave the series a 4/5 rating, praising the show for its originality and "taking all of our expectations and confounding them."[35] Alex Fletcher from Digital Spy believes that "Peaky Blinders has started as sharp as a dart,"[36] while Den of Geek called the series "the most intelligent, stylish and engrossing BBC drama in ages."[37] Cult TV Times critic Hugh David said the show "warrants the billing" by "managing to tick several ratings boxes – period drama, gangster epic, film star leads – yet go against the grain of those in the most interesting of ways."[38]

The show has been particularly celebrated for its stylish cinematography and charismatic performances, as well as for casting an eye over a part of England and English history rarely explored on television.[39] Historians have been divided over whether bringing characters and events from other decades into a 1920s story undermines claims to historical accuracy, or whether working-class life in the period is nevertheless depicted in a truthful and resonant way.[40] Reviews for the second series have remained positive, with Ellen E. Jones of The Independent commenting that "Peaky Blinders can now boast several more big-name actors to supplement the sterling work of Cillian Murphy, Helen McCrory and Sam Neill", referring to second series additions Tom Hardy and Noah Taylor.[41]

Several critics have also favourably compared the show to the American series Boardwalk Empire,[42][43] which shares the same themes and historical context. Show writer Steven Knight stated in an early interview: "Do you know – and I'm not just saying this – but I've never watched them. I've never seen The Wire, I've never seen Boardwalk Empire, I've never seen any of them." When asked if he deliberately avoided watching these dramas, he responded: "It's sort of deliberate in that I don't really want to be looking at other people's work because it does affect what you do inevitably."[44] On 2 March 2016, Knight told the Crime Scene Quarterly "I've had unsolicited communication from Michael Mann, the film director, from Dennis Lehane, Snoop Dogg – he's such a fan. And the late David Bowie was a huge fan – more of that to come" (strongly hinting Bowie's involvement on Series 3). It was later confirmed that David Bowie's music would be featured, and Leonard Cohen had also written a new song for series 3.[45][46][47]


Series Award Category Nominee(s) Result
1 BAFTA Television Craft Awards Best Director: Fiction Otto Bathurst Won
Best Original Television Music Martin Phipps Nominated
Best Photography and Lighting: Fiction George Steel Won
Best Production Design Grant Montgomery Nominated
Best Sound: Fiction Stuart Hilliker, Brian Milliken, Matthew Skelding, Lee Walpole Nominated
Best Special Visual Effects Bluebolt (VFX), Rushes (Colourist) Nominated
Biarritz International Festival of Audovisual Programming Best Actor in a TV Series or Serial Cillian Murphy Won
Best Actress in a TV Series or Serial Helen McCrory Won
Best Music in a TV Series or Serial Martin Phipps Won
Crime Thriller Awards UK Best Supporting Actress Helen McCrory Nominated
RTS Programme Awards Best Drama Series "production team" Won
RTS Craft & Design Awards Best Costume Design: Drama Stephanie Collie Won
Best Make-Up Design: Drama Loz Schiavo Nominated
Best Production Design: Drama Grant Montgomery Nominated
Judges' Award "production team" Won
Televisual Bulldog Awards Best Drama One-Off or Serial "production team" 2nd Place
2 BAFTA Television Awards Best Drama Series "production team" Nominated
BAFTA Television Craft Awards Best Make-Up and Hair Loz Schiavo Nominated
Best Photography and Lighting: Fiction Simon Dennis Nominated
Best Production Design Grant Montgomery Nominated
IFTA Film and Television Awards Best Leading Actor in a Drama Series Cillian Murphy Nominated
Best Costume Design Lorna Marie Mugan Won
Best Director: Drama Series Colm McCarthy Nominated
RTS Programme Awards Best Drama Series "production team" Nominated
RTS Craft & Design Awards Best Photography: Drama Simon Dennis Nominated
Writers' Guild of Great Britain Awards Best TV Drama – Long Form Steven Knight Nominated
3 National Television Awards Best Period Drama Series "Production team" Nominated
Best Drama Performance Cillian Murphy Nominated
Irish Film and Television Awards Best Leading Actor in a Drama Series Cillian Murphy Won
4 BAFTA Television Awards Best Drama Series "production team" Won
BAFTA Television Craft Awards Best Costume Design Alison McCosh Nominated
Best Editing: Fiction Dan Roberts (Episode 5) Nominated
Best Make Up & Hair Design Loz Schiavo Nominated
Best Sound: Fiction Forbes Noonan, Ben Norrington, Jim Goddard, Grant Bridgeman Nominated
Best Writer: Drama Steven Knight Nominated
TV Choice Awards Best Drama Series "production team" Won
Best Actor Cillian Murphy Won
Best Actress Helen McCrory Nominated
5 Cinema Audio Society Awards Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Television Series – One Hour Stu Wright, Nigel Heath, Brad Rees, Jimmy Robertson, Oliver Brierley, Ciaran Smith (for "Mr. Jones") Nominated

Broadcast and release[edit]

On 24 September 2014, it was announced that Netflix had acquired exclusive US distribution rights from the Weinstein Company and Endemol. The entirety of series 1 became available for streaming on 30 September 2014; series 2 launched in November 2014.[48] Series 3 was made available 31 May 2016.[49] Due to licensing restrictions, however, most of the show's original soundtrack is not available on the Netflix-distributed version of the series.[50] In 2018, it was announced Peaky Blinders would be moved from its original broadcast channel, BBC Two, to BBC One.[51]


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Long, Paul (2017) ‘Class, Place and History in the Imaginative Landscapes of Peaky Blinders’ in Forrest, D. & Johnson, B. (eds.), Social Class and Television Drama in Contemporary Britain, Palgrave

External links[edit]