The BBC has produced a number of award-winning period dramas over the years, but Peaky Blinders stands out on its own. Whilst most period dramas tend to be, long broody romantic tales based on famous novels, Peaky Blinders follows a darker path of a gangster family in Birmingham between the two World Wars. Created and written by Steven Knight a Brummie himself, he loosely bases the story on a real gang in Birmingham and cleverly weaves into the story real historical figures making the whole story thoroughly believable. The production is total perfection, with incredible cinematography that immerses the audience in the heart of grimy industrial England during a period of harsh social struggles.
Another stand out for the show is the cast who each seem to pull off the best performances of their careers, which is quite a statement when you take into account that recent cast members have included an Oscar winner. In fact, the cast looks more like a film cast than a BBC period drama – supporting cast members include the likes of Sam Neill (Invasion), Tom Hardy, Adrien Brody, Aiden Gillen and Paddy Constantine. The main characters are Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy), Arthur Shelby (Paul Anderson), John Shelby (Joe Cole), Polly (Helen McCrory), Grace Shelby (Annabelle Wallis) and Ada Thorne (Sophie Rundle) – the devastatingly loyal Shelby family, that are the figureheads of the Peaky Blinders and each of these actors create a suitably terrifying presence on screen as their characters get deeper into their journeys.
For me, the show has a real grittiness to it – a real rags to riches tale that leaves you questioning which level of society in this period is the most corrupt? Yes, the family is extremely violent but you connect with their struggles and find yourself siding with their cause repeatedly. This series has everything in it from pikies, left-wing communist movements, the I.R.A, the mafia, corrupt police and corrupt politicians – all splashed onto the screen in a heady mix of sex, drugs, brutal violence and an excellent soundtrack.
It is easy to see why there is already a huge cult following for this series, there is a list of stars who love this show and there are a number of Peaky Blinders themed bars popping up across the UK. The list of awards that Peaky Blinders has received seems endless, with every series getting nominated for multiple awards including Steve Knight getting nominated for a Writers Guild of Great Britain Award. Each of the episodes runs for an hour but that hour simply flies by because of the brilliant script and performances, so it is very easy to watch a few episodes back to back. Currently, Netflix has the first three series available so there is plenty enough to binge on here, but there will be series four coming to Netflix soon and the BBC has series five in production. Steve Knight has written enough for seven series so if you are not currently part of the Peaky Blinders experience – get onto Netflix today so that you do not miss out.