The sixth and final series of Peaky Blinders

Sunday:Peaky Blinders; (BBC One, 9pm)

By Claire Cartmill
Saturday, 26th February 2022, 5:00 pm
Tommy Shelby
Tommy Shelby

“One last deal to be done. Then we Peaky Blinders rest.”

For fans around the world who have been glued to the sneaky peek trailer for the sixth and final series, those chilling words have been a long time coming. As heartbreaking as the last run will be, if it matches the quality of the previous five seasons, it’s going to be appointment telly.

The epic tale, created by created by Steven Knight and loosely based on the criminal exploits of the real Peaky Blinders (who sewed razor blades into their flat caps to use as weapons in fights), debuted on 12 September 2013, and introduced us to Tommy Shelby, head of the Irish-Romani gangster family who ruled the roost in Birmingham in 1919.

Beneath those deadly caps, the Shelby men sported vicious undercuts (the sides and back of their heads were shaved totally bald with longer hair on top), and carried themselves like gods – crushing all who dared get in their way.

As the series went on and the years passed, we watched as the Shelby empire expanded beyond Birmingham to the north and south of England and beyond, while they tangled with everyone from Winston Churchill to Oswald Mosely.

Effortlessly stylish and incredibly cool, Peaky Blinders offered a glimpse at a facet of working-class England that was rarely seen, and audiences and critics (mostly) loved it.

At the heart of the story is Tommy, a man haunted by his experiences in the First World War, plagued by depression and lost love, and compelled over and over again to go into battle on behalf of or to defend his family and their interests.

Cillian Murphy, the actor who brings Tommy to life, has been showered with awards for his performance as the clear-eyed criminal, described by one critic as “not a good man but a phenomenally watchable one”.

We all know truly great drama rarely rests on the talents of one person, and it’s very true of Peaky Blinders.

Paul Anderson as Tommy’s unstable brother Arthur steals just about every scene he’s in and, like his brother, has experienced massive mental trauma and had more than his fair share of brushes with death.

Nor is it just the men who make the show compelling. The wonderful, much-missed Helen McCrory, who played Polly, Tommy’s aunt-cum-conscience, was one of the series’ most popular characters.

Speaking about working with her after her death from cancer in April 2021, Cillian said: “She was like the matriarch of Peaky Blinders and I think my closest colleague on the show. She was without doubt one of the best actors I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. On top of that she was just an extraordinary human being.”

So, the opening episode may be more than a little bittersweet – but it’s also set to be action-packed as it picks up right where season five left off, with Tommy in a field and a gun to his head.

There’s also a Shelby funeral, which is set to cause a rift in the family, and a move to North America where the end of Prohibition offers up new possibilities. As for the future? Steven Knight has already suggested a film instead of a seventh series, adding that while Peaky Blinders was coming to an end, “the story will continue in another form”.

Watch this space…

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