Thu Sep 12, 9-10pm, BBC2
Is this the West Midlands or the Wild West? As Thomas Shelby (Cillian Murphy) rides into a slum that simmers with fear and violence to the strains of Nick Cave’s ‘Red Right Hand’, there’s no doubt which genre has most inspired Steven Knight’s gorgeous-looking drama series, for all the inevitable ‘Boardwalk Empire’ comparisons. But the writer of ‘Dirty Pretty Things’ and ‘Eastern Promises’ has given this American staple a British twist.
We’re in 1919 Birmingham, where Sam Neill’s hard-nosed police chief has been brought in to clean up an underworld divided between communists, Fenians and gangsters. Shelby is one of the latter, a racketeer caught between a quick-to-anger brother (Paul Anderson) and mob matriarch Aunt Polly (Helen McCrory), having inherited his ‘mother’s commonsense and father’s devilment’.
So well imagined and presented is this hellish world that there’s a danger of style over content with ‘Peaky Blinders’ (so-called because of the razor blades hidden in the caps of Shelby’s mobsters) – not least when it comes to the sparing but still shocking slo-mo violence. But stick with it – the cast (watch out for poet Benjamin Zephaniah as a street preacher) is superb and the plot, as it shakes off a few early clichés, becomes truly absorbing.
Support Time Out
We see you’re using an ad-blocker. Ad revenue is Time Out’s main source of income. The content you’re reading is made by independent, expert local journalists.
Support Time Out directly today and help us champion the people and places which make the city tick. Cheers!Donate now