Peaky Blinders: What’s It All About?

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC Peaky Blinders: What’s It All About?

If you’re reading this then I assume you haven’t seen Peaky Blinders, read on, no spoilers here.  Peaky Blinders is a BBC period crime drama based in Birmingham just after the First World War.  The story centres around the antics of the Peaky Blinders gang with Tommy Shelby as the overall leader. They were known for thieving, mugging, illegal betting, racketeering, and dealing in black-market goods.   They got their name from sewing razor blades into the peaks of their caps and used them to blind their enemies in fights.  It is one of the best shows on British TV and its gaining popularity around the world.

The series was created by Steven Knight who got the idea from his father.  His father grew up in Birmingham and has vivid memories of the real gangs who ruled the streets at that time.  His father said they were incredibly well dressed and powerful with lots of money.  Knight told the BBC “I want Peaky Blinders to be a sort of the view of this world through the eyes of a 10-year-old because the men are smarter and stronger and handsomer and the horses are bigger and everything is big and intimidating as a kid.”

The characters from the series are fictional except of Billy Kimber from the first series who was a real person. William “Billy” Kimber was the head of the real Birmingham Boys gang who controlled racecourses in the Midlands and the North. For many years it was thought that Kimber was the biggest organised crime boss in the UK of that time.  In 1921 his leadership ended when was shot dead in Kings Cross, London and not long after the rest of the boys were imprisoned.

Cillian Murphy was perfectly cast as gang leader Tommy Shelby and it is arguable his best performance to date.  Tom Hardy gives a great performance playing Jewish gang leader Alfie Solomons.  Sam Neill played villainous police officer Chief Inspector Campbell.  Helen McCrory plays Polly and Game of Thrones Actor Noah Taylor plays Darby Sabini.

The first 3 series won rave reviews and its popularity is gaining momentum.  It has some famous Hollywood heavy weight fans including Tom Cruise, Brad Pit and Steven Spielberg.  You can binge watch the first three series on Netflix. There are two more series in the pipeline with the 4th series starting filming in March this year, to be aired later in the year.  The filming took place in Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool.  The street they used for Black Heath Birmingham was the actual street here Ringo Starr grew up in Birmingham.  Fans who can’t wait for the next instalment can visit that street and other filming locations on a Peaky Blinder Tour here run by Brit Movie Tours.

If you’re thinking a crime drama isn’t your thing, think again, it’s much more than just another gangster crimes series. Everything about the series is pure quality which is why it’s been so successful.  The sound track, the great writing, great costumes, plenty of nail biting cliffhangers and it was directed brilliantly by Tim Mielants.  Still not convinced?  Just watch the first episode with an open mind and see if it draws you in.

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