Star – Cillian Murphy
My Rating ****
Genre – Box Set/TV Series/Crime
Run Time – 6 x 1 Hours.
Certificate – 18
Country – U.S.A
BAFTAS – 2
Awards – 15 Wins & 30 Nominations
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Peaky Blinders is England’s version of Boardwalk Empire, a big budget period gangster drama that charts the rise of a criminal family in the big city after The Great War, in this case Birmingham in the English Midlands. It’s not quite as glamorous as Atlantic City but hey! Believe it or not but Birmingham has more canals than Venice. It also has the worse English accent in the United Kingdom.
It’s from writer Stephen Knight and season five is running on regular TV here right now. The star is the rather beautiful blue-eyed Cillian Murphy (28 Days Later). My review is on season one as I have just got into the show.
Cillian Murphy … Thomas Shelby
Sam Neill … Inspector Chester Campbell
Helen McCrory … Aunt Polly
Paul Anderson … Arthur Shelby
Annabelle Wallis … Grace Burgess
Iddo Goldberg … Freddie Thorne
Sophie Rundle … Ada Shelby
Joe Cole … John Shelby
Ned Dennehy … Charlie Strong
Benjamin Zephaniah … Jeremiah Jesus
Lobo Chan … Mr. Zhang
Alfie Evans-Meese … Finn Shelby
Neil Bell … Harry Fenton
Samuel Edward-Cook … Danny Whizz-Bang
Ian Peck … Curly
Brothers Thomas (Cillian Murphy) and Arthur Shelby (Paul Anderson) have returned to England from the First World War as the country and industry begins to reboot after the huge loses of men and so workers. The smelters of the West Midlands are driving the hard industry as soot covered faces leave grimy factories after 12 hours shifts, the local pub one of few escapes from the grime and shell shock.
But the Shelby family live quite well in Small Heath, Birmingham, running that local pub and a nice little side line of an illegal betting shop around the country, plus other scams. Matriarch Aunt Poly (Helen McCrory) has been running the operation while the boys have been away in France but now younger brother Thomas wants to take over from older brother Arthur. He has made a lot of lucrative smart moves of late and the heir apparent.
When the family happen upon some stolen weapons destined for Northern Ireland after robbing a local factory they draw the attention of Scotland Yard, who dispatch Inspector Campbell (Sam Neil) from Northern Ireland to hunt down the weapons before the IRA get them. He will stop at nothing to get them, and planning to clean up the city in the process.
He is joined by fellow intelligence agent Grace Burgess (Annabelle Wallis ), a beautiful Irish girl who intends to infiltrate the Shelby clan by getting a job in their pub and seducing one of the boys, the piercing blue eyes of Thomas Shelby irresistible to most. She is very good at her job and soon working in the pub and reeling in Thomas, poking around and listening in as many conversations as possible. Churchill wants those guns back or it’s their jobs.
Meanwhile Thomas has expansion plans on his mind and wants to get into the on-track horserace betting business, fixing races a whole lot easier that way. For that to happen he will have to deal with the fearsome Freddie Thorne (Iddo Goldberg) and his gang, a ruthless well established crime boss who runs the pitches…
I enjoyed Boardwalk Empire and I am enjoying this. I had waited for Boardwalk to wrap up before I started watching this because of the clash of styles and now ready to go for all five series. Its big budget authenticity and although some grumbles about the accents not being that accurate it’s easy to get into. The violence is not too over the top and very well acted.
Like Boardwalk its quality from episode one, season one and you are involved from the off. It’s often the case that new shows have to work hard to get you hooked as you get used to the believable characters and styles but not here? It took me five episodes to embrace Breaking Bad and Walter White. Murphy owns it from scene one as the charismatic and handsome anti hero.
Although based of the real gang called the Peaky Blinders that gang operated in the previous century around the 1890s and so timelines skewed. Few of the locations are actually in Birmingham and the show mostly shot in Liverpool, who, no doubt, had their own Peaky Blinder gangs. The name comes from the fact the gang would blind people with razors if they didn’t pay up or do as they are told. The razors were not embedded in their caps though as depicted in the show.
So, on the whole an enjoyable show to get into. It’s not a binge box-set for me and I watched an episode now and then but highly recommended. It is worth seeing though and I believe its syndicated around the world is hat popular.
Imdb.com 8.8/10.0 – (289,234votes)
Rottentomatos.com –% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – % critic’s approval