Feeling a Little Peaky…


Blinders, that is. The BBC Two drama has me hooked.

Back in August, you may remember I posted about writing a feature on Peaky Blinders. I loved it from the screening of the first episode. Beautiful cinematography, a stupidly talented cast and top-notch writing were apparent from the very beginning. It was only last weekend, however, that I had a chance to continue watching the series. In the words of Aunt Pol: holy Jesus! It gets better every week. I’m now extremely relieved that I did get to watch them in one hit because the wait for the finale leaves me more impatient than I’ve been over telly in a very long time!

This is a show that, had I simply read a synopsis, I would have assumed was not for me. Gangs, crime, violence – none of it particularly lends itself to my taste. In fact, I think it’s more about a family trying to get by in a hostile world. Nevertheless,  this show defies exact categorisation. It’s just really bloody good. (And yes, sometimes just bloody.)

Cillian Murphy is one of the most commanding leads I’ve seen in any TV series. Having never seen any of his other work, I say that without bias. He is captivating. In Tommy, he has created a character of such complexity and contradiction. Tommy can be all kinds of intimidating and, at other times, deeply vulnerable. He has a commanding stillness on-screen, distinct from the scenes that depict his monstrous violence. He’s cunning, and yet not malicious. He takes no pleasure in violence, but is forced to be as bad as those above him to help move the family up in the world. I find that I defend his harsher moments in spite of myself. Whether or not I’m right to, it’s exciting to find a character that inspires such a conflicting array of feelings . I’m a girl who likes the Jim Halperts and Josh Lymans of the world – the slightly smug, good guys. And yet here I am getting all worked up over a Brummie gangster? I don’t know what’s come over me. Sometimes I just find his casual badassery kind of sassy: “Oh, I don’t pay for suits. My suits are on the house or the house burns down.”

Beyond Cillian’s magnetic performance, the show boasts an impressive ensemble, which includes Annabelle Wallis as the shady chanteuse, Helen McCrory as the badass matriarch, Sam Neill as the corrupt chief inspector, Sophie Rundle as the lively and lovely Shelby sister, and Iddo Goldberg as Tommy’s former BFF turned communist agitator. Each is perfectly placed in a series that offers a unique depiction of post-WW1 Britain. The time setting offers rich historical context, with all manner of political changes occurring. The most interesting historical aspect for me is the gender conflict. With women having taken care of business while the men were at war, they then have to adapt to the loss of that control upon the soldiers’ return. There are countless other social issues that play a part in the series, though.

Oh, and if you like a little romance then you’ll get your fill. Promise. While Tommy might seem all sharp edges and sharp-tongued compared to the softly spoken, aptly named Grace, simplistic binary oppositions of good and bad don’t really fit in the world of the Peaky Blinders.

Since getting hooked on the series, I’ve become retrospectively all the prouder for having been able to write about a series so brilliant for my first published feature article. In Peaky Blinders, it feels like the BBC is finally making steps to make it up to me after the distressing cancellation of my last TV love (RIP The Hour). Fingers crossed for the future of Peaky Blinders – and for the futures of all my favourite characters in tomorrow night’s finale. (Whoops, I’m invested!)

If you haven’t given Peaky Blinders a chance, get on it like a car bonnet, my friend. It’s one of the Beeb’s best for a long while now. It doesn’t fall into the (very BBC) trap of trying to appeal to everyone – it knows what it is, and what it is is quality drama. It’s hard to know exactly where to focus my gushing. The cast? The writing? The cinematography? The music? Just go and watch it.

You’re welcome.