Peaky Blinders

Surprising Behind the Scenes Facts of Peaky Blinders

Here are the most surprising behind the scenes facts about Peaky Blinders that you should know.


peaky blinders, starring some of the greatest actors

The final season of the globally celebrated TV show, Peaky Blinders, was released in February 2022 on BBC. Season 6 is now streaming on Netflix, and the team behind Peaky Blinders is all looking forward to starting shooting the first ever Peaky Blinders movie for the big screen. 

The writer of the show, Steven Knight, recently confirmed their plans on creating titles of Peaky Blinders for the big screen, with the conclusion of the original story of Peaky Blinders set to arrive first as a film. 

For every movie or TV show that’s created, a lot of hard work, care, and determination goes into making it what we see on screen. Every cast and crew member working on it always pushes to their absolute potential, and often beyond it. 

The final product that comes out as a TV show or a movie will be so perfectly crafted, that the viewers won’t even have the slightest idea of what made it into what you’re watching. A lot happens behind the scenes, especially for a crime drama recreating the 1920s to be able to perfectly craft even just an episode of around 1 hour! 

1. The Authentic, Perfectly Styled Haircuts

Cillain Murphy in Peaky Blinders

A TV show recreating England of a century ago means that it should put in an extreme level of detail and research. This has resulted in a lot of the elements in Peaky Blinders; one notable element being the haircut.

According to an interview with the hair and makeup artist of the show, Loz Schiavo, a lot of time and care went into perfecting the haircuts of every character in the show. 

He revealed that the haircuts we see in the show were carefully selected and recreated after reviewing dozens of photographs of men from the early 20th century.

This revealing further proves the authenticity and doses of realism in Peaky Blinders. Even though many of the cast and crew members of the show, including Cillian Murphy, doubted they could pull it off, the makeup crew did a brilliant job to craft haircuts to perfection!

Ever since Peaky Blinders got global recognition, the haircuts have fallen into great demand among the fans.

2. Cillian Murphy Smoked Too Much!

Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders

The worldly look of the gang members in the show is highly emphasized. Thomas Shelby has a cigarette between his lips for almost most of the show. Combining this with their classic British outfit and razor-blade hat brims adds the zing that completes the aura of the leading character. 

Most of the stars smoke like freight trains every season. The main character, Cillian Murphy, smoked an estimated 3000 cigarettes in a single season to complete the worldly look of his character.

He asked the prop team of the show to keep a count on the cigarettes he used one season, and the numbers went up to 3000!

In case you’re wondering about the harms of smoking too many cigarettes, actors smoke herbal cigarettes provided specifically for the show by the prop department. 

Yes, it doesn’t contain any harmful ingredients. But still, that’s a lot of smoke in a single season!

3. Stories Are Based on Steven Knight’s Childhood

Steven Knight, writer of Peaky Blinders

The writer of the show, Steven Knight, was born and brought up in Birmingham. He grew up hearing the daunting stories of the Peaky Blinders and the rivalry between the dominating gangs of England.

In case you didn’t already know, Peaky Blinders was a real-life street gang in Birmingham, which contributes to one of the reasons you’ll love Peaky Blinders.

Other gangs and gang members portrayed in the show, including gangs like The Birmingham Boys and members like Sabini and Billy Kimber, existed in England around a century back. 

In an interview with Cillian Murphy, the star recollects how Steven Knight comes up with plots for each season. According to the actor, the process is so easy for the writer that it “flows like water”. 

A major reason for such a relaxed process is credited to Steven Knight’s childhood. As the gangs and members were real, stories about them were constantly discussed and heard during his days at home.

So, no matter how far-out every episode is, reality, for the most part, contributes to it. 

4. Liam Neeson and Jason Nesbitt Helped Sam Neill Perfect His Accent

Sam Neill in Peaky Blinders

Sam Neill is one of the greatest actors in Hollywood, with a myriad of supreme roles under his sleeves. Known best for his roles in the Jurassic Park franchise, his appearance in Peaky Blinders effectively made the complete as a whole.

Born Irish, Sam Neill played the role of the major antagonist of Thomas Shelby in the first two seasons of the show. Portraying the role of Inspector Campbell, he is a police chief from Belfast who is known for ruthlessly hunting down crimes in England. 

For the TV show, he sought help from one of the other legendary actors, Liam Neeson, and Jason Nesbitt to help him perfect his accent. According to what he told the BBC, he needed a believable accent from Belfast that wasn’t “too strong”. 

His goal was to sound perfect, so the American audience can understand him. Thus came in Liam Neeson and Jason Nesbitt to help him perfect his accent for the show.

5. Cillian Murphy Thought Tommy Shelby Will Die

Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders

Thomas Shelby stands out as the ruthless, relentless, and cunning gangster. Due to his time in the trenches of WW1, the show portrays Tommy as braver than his enemies and unafraid of even his death.

At the end of season 2, we see Tommy much closer to death than ever. Perhaps only just inches and seconds away from death, and it’s pretty obvious that we all thought it was his conclusion at some point there.

As revealed in the interview for GQ, just like the viewers, Cillian Murphy himself assumed his character will die when he read the script for season 2.

However, if his assumption came true, it’s likely to say that Peaky Blinders wouldn’t be the same as we know it today. Thomas Shelby being the central figure of Peaky Blinders, the show would’ve appeared incomplete with the absence of a huge part of the show, Tommy.

6. John Shelby and Michael Gray Are Family

Joe Cole and Finn Cole in Peaky Blinders

The Shelby family shares a close bond and strapping loyalty between the family members. They stick together in all darkness. But did you know that some of the actors in the Shelby family’s deeper circle are actually related in real life?

It turns out Joe Cole, playing John Shelby, and Finn Cole, playing Michael Gray, the son of Polly Shelby, are family in real life. In fact, they’re siblings, making their bond a really strong one in real life.

And when you think about it, it’s impressive how they played out their characters. As cousins inside the Shelby family, they both appear quite mistrustful of each other. Considering that they grew up together their whole lives, their talent deserves great appreciation for such an amazing acting performance!

Before Peaky Blinders, both the actors starred together in the movie Offender. Joe Cole secured his role as John Shelby later in Peaky Blinders, and his brother Finn Cole joined the TV show with the role of Michael Gray a few years later.

7. Alfie Solomons and May Carleton Are Married

Tom Hardy and Charlotte Riley in Peaky Blinders

It might sound unbelievable when you realize more of the actors in Peaky Blinders are related at some level in real life. 

Alfie and May are two of the characters introduced to the show in Season 2. The role of Alfie Solomons is played by Tom Hardy, appearing as the leader of a Jewish gang in Camden Town. 

May Carleton is a widowed racehorse owner, played by Charlotte Riley, who is actually married to Tom Hardy outside the series. 

Hardy and Riley first met on the set of a period drama called Wuthering Heights in 2009. They then got married in 2014. 

8. Jack Rowan Was a Boxer in Real Life

Jack Rowan in Peaky Blinders
peaky blinders

Jack Rowan plays the role of the boxer Bonnie Gold, son of the notorious hitman Aberama Gold

Although the 25-year-old don’t have a long character arc, he did play one of the important roles in the show, at least for a short time. His character was used by a rival gang of Shelby’s to send the crime family a message. 

Just like he’s portrayed in the show, Jack Rowan was an amateur boxer in his real life. According to i-D, the actor won 18 out of 27 bought in his teens. 

9. Steven Knight Don’t Watch Other TV Drama

Peaky Blinders
peaky blinders

The writer, Steven Knight, currently writes one of the best and most popular drama series. He purposefully avoids watching other TV dramas to keep himself at the bay from copying the plot points or storytelling styles.

It might sound bizarre, but it clearly defines why Steven Knight can write one of the best drama series we know. 

Although he might not purposefully copy from other TV dramas, it’s natural for humans to be influenced by something else that we read or see. In Steve’s case, it might be the plot points or storytelling styles.

He purposefully doesn’t watch similar TV dramas so that his creative vision is not influenced by the creativity of those shows. 

Especially at this time when Peaky Blinders is often compared to shows like The Wire and Boardwalk Empire, a similar plot point or storytelling is definitely something he should avoid at all cost!

10. Jason Statham Was Considered for the Show

Jason Statham
peaky blinders

Jason Statham is one of the legendary actors in Hollywood, known for starring in tough, hard-boiled, gritty, or violent movies. 

It was after directing Jason Statham in Redemption (known as Hummingbird in some countries) that Steven Knight decided to write Peaky Blinders. When the writer was trying to figure out actors for the cast of the show, he was eager to get Statham in for a role. 

While his appearance could’ve hugely impacted the TV show, Steven Knight was unsuccessful in giving him a role as the actor’s schedule didn’t fall in favor. 

Although Statham is an extraordinary actor, he might’ve not done well considering that he’s not the best at accents. While Knight never confirmed which role he reserved for Statham, guessing it was Thomas Shelby wouldn’t be too far-fetched given that he is one of the legendary actors in Hollywood!

11. Peaky Blinders Has Two Batman Villains

photo of villains in Batman: Dark Knight movies

It seems like Steven Knight and Christopher Nolan share the same taste in actors. Two of the actors casting in Peaky Blinders have been villains of Nolan’s worldwide hit superhero movie series, Batman

Cillian Murphy and Tom Hardy are two of the villains in The Dark Night trilogy. Cillian Murphy appears as the villain, Scarecrow, in Batman Begins, and Tom Hardy plays the role of Bane in The Dark Knight Rises

In addition to this, the pair have also appeared in other Nolan movies, notably Inception and Dunkirk

12. Peaky Blinders Were Not the Most Powerful in Reality

photo of real gang members of England in 1920s

The TV show portrays Peaky Blinders as the most powerful gang in Birmingham during the 1920s. The Shelby family dominates the city, and the Peaky Blinders are stronger than the rest of the street gangs in Birmingham. 

In reality, this is not the actual case. The street gang Peaky Blinders did dominate the streets of Birmingham, but not during the 1920s. 

Peaky Blinders were only as powerful as they were portrayed during the 1890s. During the 1920s, a stronger street gang by the name of The Birmingham Gang dominated the city, and the Peaky Blinders were no longer solely running the streets.

Although the Peaky Blinders were still around, they weren’t as powerful in reality as they were portrayed in the show during the 1920s. 

13. Cillian Murphy Hates the Haircut

Cillian Murphy's haircut for Peaky Blinders

The haircut of Thomas Shelby became iconic ever since the release of Peaky Blinders. Fans all over the world now want a haircut like Tommy.

However, although Tommy’s hair influenced the world of hairstyles, Cillian Murphy is not really a fan of it. He knows that fans all around the world love it and have the same haircut on them, but it just doesn’t cut it for the actor. He simply hates the Thomas Shelby haircut.

Conclusion

That covers 13 of the most surprising behind-the-scenes facts about Peaky Blinders. We’re sure they’re all bizarre and shocking at some level, but it’s nice to know what goes on behind the scenes of a TV show.

Let us know your thoughts on these surprising facts. Comment below!


I’m Aman, a freelance content writer since my 13 years of age. I’ve been writing for 7+ years now, successfully engaging and educating readers. Featured in prominent publications like The Startup, The Writing Cooperative, and The Ascent, I consider myself a well-versed writer in multiple areas, where I've always been able to prove my excellence and expertise. In my free time, I love watching movies and TV shows. I binge-watch a lot, and I consider myself blessed to be able to write about stuff I love!