Category Archives: Peaky Blinders

The 10 Best Crime Dramas This Week (Monday 21st – Sunday 27th February)

This week we have one of the biggies back with us – the final series of Brummie gangster saga, Peaky Blinders, starts next weekend. We also get a Belgian thriller (Blackout) on Walter Presents. Elsewhere, we say goodbye to Chloe and The Promise. Enjoy!

S6 E1/6

Tommy sets off to North America, where the end of Prohibition brings opportunities, but he faces new danger from an old adversary who is finally making his move. In his Boston hotel room, Tommy takes a call and receives very concerning news, forcing him to cut short his trip and head straight back to Birmingham.
Sunday 27th February, 9pm, BBC One

S1 E6/6

Becky’s carefully constructed web of lies begins to crumble around her, as she stumbles on a message from Livia to Elliot confirming that they are doing a background search on her. Angry with Becky for refusing to admit that she smashed his phone, Elliot drives her car onto the wrong side of the road, heading towards oncoming traffic to frighten her. She faces a race against time to discover the truth before his political launch.
Monday 21st February, 9pm, BBC One

S1 E5&6/6

The body of a trans woman is found floating in the river and Rocco has to confront the forensics Following yet another infraction, Sarah is pulled off the case. Frozen out by her colleagues, she continues to investigate behind their backs.
Saturday 26th February, 9pm, BBC Four

S1 E3/4

Alex heads to his therapist, terrified that he may be losing his mind. Then, a new revelation convinces him that he is being framed.
Thursday 24th February, 9pm, Sky Atlantic

S1 E3/4

The date of the court hearing finally arrives and Noah’s new defence lawyer argues that what happened between the boys was consensual, but the appeal is quickly rejected and his distraught family watches helplessly as he is sent back to prison. Despite her growing feelings for Ismail, Megan agrees to return to the UK, to see her family and look after Jess and decides to confront Steve about his secret addiction.
Monday 21st February, 9pm, ITV

S2 E2/6

The River Murders are linked to a pharmaceutical company, so Clarice seeks help from an informant. Catherine leaves home for the first time since her rescue.
Tuesday 22nd February, 9pm, Alibi

7 Ice Cold Murders: Roccio Schiavone *NEW UK PREMIERE EPISODE*
S2 E3/6

The body of a trans woman is found floating in the river and Rocco has to confront the forensics commissioner, who is absorbed by conspiracy theories. He is not helped by the discovery that the apartment of the strangled victim has been cleaned out – and even her phone wiped. Rocco draws on all his crime-solving resources, including the help of his neighbour Gabriele. Meanwhile, in Rome, grief-stricken Sebastiano goes rogue.
Friday 25th February, More4 (and All4)

S1 E6/6

The Expo team is stretched to breaking point dealing with a complicated gas-pipe device planted at the campaign HQ of the Progressive Alliance, while Sonya uses back channels to get more information from Porton Down and discovers a link to secret military operations in Afghanistan. Lana receives a text that leads counter-terrorism Officers to a site where military-grade explosives are stored, increasing fears of another attack ahead of the bitterly fought Deptford by-election. 
Sunday 27th February, 8pm, ITV

S1 E1-11/11

Belgium is plunged into darkness after an act of sabotage shuts down the nuclear power plant and Michael Dendoncker, head of department at the DA3 anti-terrorism unit, needs to find out what they want before it’s too late.
From Friday 25th February, All4 (Walter Presents)

S1 E9/13

The River Murders are linked to a pharmaceutical company, so Clarice seeks help from an informant. Catherine leaves home for the first time since her rescue.
Monday 21st February, 9pm, Alibi


REVIEW: Peaky Blinders (S5 E6/6)

After the explosive and heart-rending pay-off in series four – the routing of the Italian-American Changretta Mafia cell and the agonising death of Alfie Solomons – this season was always going to be the ‘difficult follow-up album’.

After all, in real life Sir Oswald Mosley had a banal end, dying at the grand old age of 84 in 1980 after suffering from Parkinson’s disease. And Peaky Blinders is not a Tarantino movie in which history can be rewritten to suit the wisecracking dialogue, so Mosley was never going to be blown away by Tommy Shelby’s gang.

We also know that creator Steven Knight is currently writing season six, so Tommy and presumably the other main characters have to survive, so where’s the tension to arise?

The real question then is how Tommy’s plot to assassinate Mosley and take over the party will be thwarted, and what will be the fallout?
Tommy describes politics as “Gangs, wars, truces – nothing I don’t already know”, but things now have to be arranged with plausible deniability.

Churchill bonds with Tommy over their shared insomnia and depression, lectures him about the perils of fascism but effectively condones his plans, despite Tommy’s own doubts.

Meanwhile, Michael and Gina propose an expansion of the opium trade into America, economically perhaps a sound idea, but politically probably not a wise move, as it undermines the powerbase of the older generation. Tommy and Polly soon put them in their place, but clearly they won’t let it lie.

Tommy explains to the family his plan to have Mosley assassinated by demented ex-soldier Barney, in terms which underline the comparison with the killing of John F Kennedy – an ex-Marine ‘lone gunman’ with a criminal record and a drug habit set up as a patsy. Just to complicate things, Tommy gives Aberama Gold the nod to kill McCavern at the same rally. What could possibly go wrong, except everything?

After the little matter of killing the Garrison barman who has been feeding information to the Titanic boys, Tommy heads off to Margate to meet the miraculously not dead Alfie Solomons (Tom Hardy) – scarred and as bonkers as ever, but a good contact for organising some Jewish rabble-rousing. “If this is Hell, it looks a lot like Margate” says Alfie – that would have been a good title for the episode.

It’s an equal shock when Polly resigns from the company, throwing in her lot with her son Michael and with Aberama – there will, as she says, be a war, and someone will die. Our money is not on Michael.

While Tommy’s allies are glued to the radio waiting for the shot to be fired (would this speech really be broadcast?), everything goes wrong – Barney’s shot, Aberama stabbed, Arthur attacked, and Mosley escapes safely – Tommy’s baffled as to who has betrayed him. Who has the knowledge, the power and the organisation?

Half demented by the frustration of his plans, Tommy is haunted by the vision of dead wife Grace and drawn to suicide – with his powerplay in ruins, his own family divided and the prospect of nothing but further conflict and bloodshed, where does he turn now?

Less in control than he has been for some time – he makes Arthur look almost stable – Tommy acts as if he is about to lose his grip on the reins of his empire. This season may have been made with the usual style, the performances as strong as ever, but there’s a sense that it was a place-holder, as the conclusion was never in doubt.

If the implications of Michael’s betrayal are as we assume, the next season may see a Round Two against the American gangs – will the action move from the gritty streets of Brum to the mean streets of New York? If so Tommy will have to face his demons at home first, and the writers may have to branch out into more elaborate fictions rather than relying on well-known historic events.

Deborah Shrewsbury






REVIEW: Peaky Blinders (S5 E5/6)

Last week’s episode outlined several rookie mistakes in social etiquette a parvenu should never make when throwing a grand soirée. First, a host must never leave his guests to have sex – even if it is with his wife. Don’t compound this error by reminding the guest of honour that he might have laid the lady of the house when she was a prostitute. And don’t discuss who in the house said special guest can or can’t bed.

But the biggest faux pas is to have a shoot-out in the driveway among family members – even if it isn’t fatal.

What emerges from the Shelby armed standoff is that Aunt Polly (Helen McCrory) is a fantastic sniper and only wings Linda (Kate Phillips). It’s a talent that might come in useful should Tommy’s first choice to carry out the final act in his political strategy not pan out. Arthur (Paul Anderson), increasingly infuriated at forever being the greasy rag to Tommy’s engineer, is sent further round the bend by Linda‘s renunciation of their marriage. This subsequently propels him to exhibit a death wish several times in this week’s episode.

Polly chugs down the opium to celebrate her wedding proposal from Aberama Gold (Aiden Gillen). Arthur gets to be best man as a booby prize.

Back at the party, smoothie-chops Sir Oswald Mosley (Sam Claflin) makes a rabble-rousing speech to party guests at the Shelby mansion. “English people in the very heart of England – there are no people I’d rather be among.” Well, as they are uniformly Anglo-Saxon with a dash of Celt – no surprise there. “I have known the change is coming … in the lives of great nations there are moments of destiny which have swept aside small men of convention and discovered men of the moment, and our host is such a man.” Mosley tells them about his new party, then he rounds on the bankers in an anti-Semitic rant about the International Jewish conspiracy and on the “sweated labour” of the Orient stealing British jobs.

Gina (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Michael (Finn Cole) are clearly taken by the sound of Mosley’s British Union of Fascists and his ‘Britain First’ slogan (if it sounds familiar, Britain First was a 2011 fascist spin-off of the BNP) and his swipe at the press and its “false [fake!] news”.

Tommy’s wife Lizzie (Natasha O’Keeffe) is not impressed. “What are you doing dealing with man like that?” asks Lizzie. “You are going to have to trust me,” he says. Murmurs of “hear, hear” that emerge from the assembled group of self-satisfied wealthy movers and shakers could almost be the affirmation of European Research Group members. Did we spy Mark Francois, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Andrew Bridgen clinking their champagne glasses?

Mosley later chides Tommy over the shooting “it’s very lower-class”, intimating that he’ll never be ‘one of us’. He’s already carved up the country, deciding which of his henchmen will control which region for the party. Jimmy McCavern (Brian Gleeson) should have control of all Tommy’s racecourse rackets north of Wincanton, he says. Mosley’s parting shot to Tommy is that he must drink less, which of course he instantly defies.

When Tommy checks in with secret service contact Ben Younger (Kingsley Ben-Adir) to update him on Mosley’s sedition, the only useful intelligence divulged is that Younger is father to Ada’s unborn child. He is a little tetchy. Information Tommy had been supplying on Ada’s communist friends has dried up, so he’s been getting grief from his bosses in Special Branch and Section D (aka the far-right Economic League).

Ada thinks you have actually started to believe in something,” says Younger.

Please don’t listen to my sister’s opinions of me – they are always hopeful, therefore they are always wrong,” replies Tommy, dourly. Moments later, Younger is blown up in his car. Is it section D’s work? Or is it the IRA – led by the woman dressed like the spy in Allo, Allo – because of Tommy’s lack of co-operation since they kidnapped Michael? And didn’t the IRA’s use of car bombs begin in the early ’70s? Whatever, Ada’s son Karl Thorne (Callum Booth-Ford) is going to have to find a new chess partner.

During a meeting with Chang (Andrew Koji) over the heroin deal Arthur and Aberama are ambushed by an Irish gang – “the Titanic boys out of Poplar”, says Arthur, who insanely runs towards them Scarface-style with his machine gun until they scatter, leaving one body to be incinerated in the Peakies’ kiln. Arthur strides off in triumph to Atmosphere by Joy Division, seguing to the Shelby family following a funeral cortége of a young boy killed in the bomb blast.

Tommy visits a former sharpshooter infantry buddy in the Small Heath Rifles Barney (Cosmo Jarvis) in a harsh asylum. Barney is a pitiful sight, cowering, straitjacketed and almost feral. We are reminded how Tommy’s immense power and charisma, forged as a young NCO in the war, earned him unwavering respect from members of his unit and other veterans and cemented his streetwise reputation. It’s clearly reflected as hero worship – almost love – in Barney’s face. Even though he initially wants to die, when Tommy offers him a cyanide capsule he finds a reason to live; they are brothers in psychological trauma. Well, Barney, wait until Wednesday, when you’ll be broken out of the loony bin to the accompaniment of War Pigs by Black Sabbath to put a bullet through Mosley’s head. The choice of music has been fabulous in this series.

Arthur’s arrival in the bargeful of heroin coincides with McCavern baiting Tommy about his loss of face with Mosely. So what’s really in the 10 sacks of ‘flour’ that Tommy’s boys subsequently load on McCavern’s boat?

Kudos to the BBC scheduler who decided to run this series during the weeks leading up to the UK’s exit from the EU. Forget that it’s a historical costume drama; it’s so apposite to this time of national strife that its themes could have been plucked from the headlines – complete with Nigel Farage as a yobbish Mosley wannabe.

Writer Andrew Knight has acknowledged that the timing couldn’t be better as his vision of 1930s Britain sees rises in nationalism, populism, fascism and racism. And that all led to a world war. Let’s not go in the same direction.

Deborah Shrewsbury





REVIEW: Peaky Blinders (S5 E4/6)

Tommy Shelby might not have read anything by 19th-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, but he does seem to follow his aphorism, “What does not kill me makes me stronger” and his penchant for living on the edge is reaching nauseating new heights in this series.

Mosley had Tommy pegged as unlettered, so he’s mildly surprised that the gypsy king has heard of Sigmund Freud. Indeed, Tommy knows his unconscious mind is working overtime with increasingly lurid visions of his dead wife Grace (Annabelle Wallis) – and it is certainly governing his behaviour to a great degree.

By contrast, you can bet Sir Oswald Mosley, played with ophidian-like slickness by Sam Claflin, has read every word of Nietzsche’s Twilight of the Idols. The difference being that although he is also notoriously dodgy, he’s an ‘untouchable’ who prefers to allow others to put their lives on the line for him.

A case in point is that he’s brokered a deal that demands a suspension of hostilities between Tommy and Billy Boys’ leader Jimmy McCavern (Brian Gleeson) to help to conscript the muscle for his British Nazi Party.

This seems a tall order because Arthur and Aberama Gold (Aiden Gillen) blew away several of his men on the border last week.

In a tense stand-off at dawn, Tommy confronts the Scots Scarface swaying down the Shelbys’ stretch of the Grand Union Canal on a barge, waving his ‘little friend’ with wild abandon. “Mr Shelby! My bullets ache to get inside your tinker head.”

Loose-cannon brother Arthur (Paul Anderson) doesn’t strike us as an avid reader (or thinker, though nowadays he might have hummed along with Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger – “What doesn’t kill you makes a fighter”). He seems never to have left Freud’s latency period, and since wife Linda (Kate Phillips) walked out he’s sublimated his sexual energy using his only defence mechanism – threats and mindless violence. For light relief he’s forcing Billy Grade (Emmett J Scanlan), a footballer-turned-singer, to aid the gang’s profitable foray into match-fixing.

Arthur’s hair-trigger temperament is problematical when Tommy holds his MP surgery at The Garrison pub. He’s relegated to buying replacement pet goldfinches for a distraught woman whose husband killed them in a drunken rage (though both men breathe a visible sigh of relief when the ‘bodies’ she has brought with her, mercifully, aren’t children).

And you can bet that your MP doesn’t see constituents who get a functionary to hold his little brother at gunpoint elsewhere (and on the telephone) as leverage to involve him in a drug deal. Brilliant (Billy) Chang (Andrew Koji), who must be based on the real-life Chan Nan (born 1886-died – who knows?), a Chinese restaurateur and drug dealer who was implicated in supplying the drugs that killed a London club hostess. He also apparently had friends in high places including contracts with the British Admiralty.

Chang’s in Brum to make Tommy an offer he can’t refuse – the chance to make £250,000 – half of what Michael lost in the Wall Street Crash – by babysitting a hijacked consignment of drugs before it ships to the US. And it’s not the cocaine and hashish he’s been dabbling in – it’s going to put the family in the big league (cue another song) – it’s Golden Brown – seven tonnes of heroin.

No one, in the family, apart from Arthur, is even slightly queasy about heroin smuggling; Michael’s snotty wife Gina (Anya Taylor-Joy) sees it as a big step up from the Shelby coal yards.

Arthur is agitated by the deal, his anger over Linda, and having cut up her lover Peaky-style. Polly (Helen McCrory) has fobbed off the investigating police and advises Arthur to find someone else.

Tommy is also playing God with Aberama Gold, ordering him to hang fire on getting revenge on McCavern until after the deal. “When the business is done he’s all yours – you can avenge yourself in any way you see fit.”

“You mean when you say? When you’ve stopped that little stopwatch that controls the turning of the Earth?” says Gold. But then again, Tommy can bribe Gold with his heart’s desire – Polly’s hand in marriage.

In a Commons speech Tommy sells his soul to the devil completely, backing the foundation of a national socialist party as his erstwhile fan Winston Churchill (Neil Maskell) looks on in displeasure. Realising he is past the stage of redemption, Tommy later warns sister Ada (Sophie Rundle) to keep her baby well away from him once it’s born.

Eager to ingratiate himself with Mosley and to prove his erudition, Tommy invites him to stay at his mansion for a grand party with a performance of Swan Lake. This choice of entertainment is enough to set off alarm bells that life will imitate art. And so it proves; as Aberama and Polly, er, plight their troth, and the dying swan breathes her last, with blood-red silk sheets pulled out of her costume, more Shelby blood is simultaneously seeping into the majestic driveway with fast and overwrought scene-cutting between graceful fiction and shocking reality.

Tommy’s graveyard cough has been a talking point of late among the Peaky fanbase on social media. The smart money is now on Tommy dying not in a hail of bullets, but instead meeting his maker through illness brought on by his lifestyle excesses. So will Tommy Shelby peacefully drop dead in his garden, Vito Corleone-style? Nothing else in his life has been peaceful, so it would be a change of pace.

Deborah Shrewsbury




REVIEW: Peaky Blinders (S5 E3/6)

The charismatic Oswald Mosley (Sam Claflin) this week set out his bold vision for Britain – to make it the greatest place on Earth. Oops, no, sorry, that was actually Boris Johnson. But you can see how the confusion arises.

While Bojo and Cummings staged their coup this week, back in a field in Birmingham in 1929 Sir Oswald Ernald Mosley, 6th Baronet of Ancoats and Labour MP for Smethwick, is trying to lure Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) into helping with his dream to replicate the fascist state created by Mussolini in Italy. 

Tommy realises he’s no longer playing in the local league; his response will affect not just his own family’s future but also that of the entire nation.

 However, before he can even consider how to deal with Mosley and his grand project, Tommy has to decide what to do about the Billy Boys ‘frae Glasgie’ – Jimmy McCavern’s (Brian Gleeson) shipyard gang from East Strathclyde, following the murder of Shelby family stalwart Bonnie Gold, son of chief enforcer Aberama Gold (Aiden Gillen).

Tommy’s nephew Michael Gray (Finn Cole), still in the doghouse after losing the family fortune, wants to take his new wife Gina (Anya Taylor-Joy) to hospital for her pregnancy check-up, but Tommy tells him Ada (Sophie Rundle) can take her. “Because that’s what women do,” sneers Arthur (Paul Anderson), who is still smarting from his dressing-down by errant wife, Linda (Kate Phillips), who has scarpered back to her old Quaker friends. Who wouldn’t?

Still, these tasks should be a piece of cake compared with duffing up the nuns at St Hilda’s Orphanage. Tommy and Polly (Helen McCrory) meet the sisters for a 6.30am working breakfast to confront them over the discovery that girls at the orphanage the Shelbys fund in memory of Tommy’s late wife, Grace (Annabelle Wallis), are being systematically abused.

“Your sins are legion,” says the Mother Superior (Kate Dickie). “Not like beating children with bricks and hoses,” counters Tommy – before blowing coke in her face – and breaking the nun’s spectacles while Polly threatens her with a knife. You have to hand it to Peakies – it is certainly ‘equal opportunities’ when it comes to meting out violence. The upshot is funding is withdrawn and the girls are to be transferred into the Shelby institutions.

Tommy sees serious heft in Mosley’s boys and as the fascist leader is forming relations with McCavern’s thugs, Tommy aims to get in first to avenge Bonnie’s death. He takes Arthur and Michael to his Commons office to meet Mosley. “You’ve both met bad men before; the man you are about to meet is the devil,” he tells them.

Michael tries to play the big man with Mosley, only to hear that slimy Ozzie has done his homework on his misspent time in the US and that unstable Arthur is being cuckolded, causing him to almost lose his rag and break a chair. Mosley describes Tommy’s Romany warning to his brother as “wog language” – what a sweetie. Coming down to brass tacks, he says he can use Tommy, but isn’t going to get involved in the Shelby family’s ‘turf wars’ and won’t help Tommy avenge himself against McCavern’s gang.

But he has made the murder of the gay journalist go away – so he now has Tommy in his pocket.

Arthur is close to the edge after the bruising encounter. “Who the f**k are these people?” he snarls, as he smashes up Tommy’s office.

“I’ve just been invited to become the deputy leader of a brand new political party. These people say they are the future.” Well, not on this side of The Channel, fortunately, Tommy.

Linda is also in search of redemption – she’s moved in with Quaker friends in Bourneville and is having trouble finding a lawyer to divorce Arthur – well, who wants to get their practice torched? Lizzie (Natasha O’Keeffe) also wants to divorce Tommy but she’s going to play the waiting game – Linda has a man friend but Lizzie warns her against pursuing it unless she wants his daughter to be orphaned.

Polly spends her 45th birthday visiting the seemingly indestructible Aberama in hospital. He tells Polly he has one more killing to do “and I’ll be done”. Against Tommy’s wishes, she delivers him to his gypsy family to get up a posse to kill McCavern.

Karl Throne (Callum Booth-Ford), Ada’s son by her late husband Freddie Thorne, is turning into a right little fascist himself. While playing chess with Colonel Ben Younger (Kingsley Ben-Adir) he says he’s glad Ben’s not his dad – “because he’s in heaven and he was white”. The army intelligence officer is the stoic sort, though, as evidenced by the fact that his unit had originally come Birmingham to arrest Ada over her communist past but he’s hung around because he’s sweet on her.

Plus Tommy finds the relationship is occasionally useful. This time because Ben’s commanding officer plays polo with Mosley, Tommy asks him to do a little intelligence work to undermine Mosley, or he’ll go it alone it trying to “bring him down for King and country”. He counts on Ben nurturing hopes of marrying into the Shelby clan.

“I have no intention of joining a family,” Ben retorts. Arthur, in a rare moment of levity, comments: “Thank f**k for that – you’d hate our weddings.”

If you’re a Peakies aficionado you will heartily concur.

Again in this series’ most paranormal twist, Tommy’s dead wife, Grace, again comes to haunt him. Last week it was a spooky cuddle around the campfire, this week it is while he’s in his cups at the pub. Already bit the worse for wear, Tommy had earlier met his communist union contact and on-off lover Jessie Eden (Charlie Murphy). She wants him to address one of her anti-fascist rallies – now for obvious reasons he tells her he can’t. His psyche is more becoming more shattered by the moment. Then again, dead wives may be easier to deal with than grumpy live ones.

Speaking of grumpy, Arthur is on the warpath – and in a drunken frenzy – to find Linda’s man friend and the inevitable happens. Then he goes off to source hand grenades to deal with the Billy Boys in Glasgow. As you do.

Aberama is obviously feeling a lot better as he crosses the border; on meeting with McCovern’s advance party he finds a novel use for boiling tar.

So as Tommy’s PTSD simmers nicely, Arthur and Aberama have created an almighty mess to clear up and have possibly put the kibosh on his plans to rout Mosley’s incipient militia – the ‘Biff Boys’. 

The almost elegant scenes of violence are escalating by the week into larger set pieces but it is getting difficult to see how director Anthony Byrne can up the ante in the tenebrous but strangely beautiful world of the Peaky Blinders. The stakes are so high now that the notion of Polly gouging at the flesh of the nuns with her stilettoes sounds quite piquant.

 Deborah Shrewsbury



REVIEW: Peaky Blinders (S5 E2/6)

Clowns to the left of him, jokers to the right, Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) is stuck in the middle with the familiar feeling that there is someone with traitorous intent in his family’s orbit.

While it is by no means a new sensation for the Brummie Al Capone – after all, erstwhile business associate Alfie Solomons (Tom Hardy) had a most complicated relationship with him and finally betrayed him to the powerful Changrettas – this feels different and much closer to home.

On the one hand, Thomas Michael Shelby OBE DCM MM MP now has a semblance of a clean sheet; his gypsy past, though, can never quite be shed. In fact, to avoid rivals, he often seems comfortable in moving back to his Romany caravan to sit trouble out.

But Tommy’s Romany spidey-sense, substance abuse, chronic insomnia and PTSD have culminated in a ‘black cat dream’ that someone is looking to depose him and he is spoilt for choice as it seems there’s quite a field of runners and riders.

Unsure if he’s in a dream or real life, early one morning Tommy sees what he thinks is a body hung on his land and rips away an almost biblical threatening note pinned to it – only then realising that it has been surrounded with landmines. He manages to railroad small son Charlie (Jenson Clarke) into the house, but the boy’s violin lesson is not an adequate disguise for the explosions as Tommy detonates the mines by machine-gunning them.

His miscalculation in bumping off nosey journalist Michael Levitt immediately comes back to bite him with a visit to his House of Commons office from a rather timid plod. Although he intimidates the detective, Tommy surely can’t hold off police interest in the high-profile murder for long.

On disembarking from his transatlantic journey, nephew Michael (Finn Cole) is abducted from the ship by members of the IRA. Tommy’s agitation at the development is visceral.

Back in the Commons, Tommy offers his support to a schools bill to raise the school-leaving age to 15 in a proletarian tour de force.

Sir Oswald Mosley (a vulpine Sam Claflin) engineers a meeting with Tommy during a break at the Commons’ bar – against the better judgement of his canny political adviser, sister Ada (Sophie Rundle). She takes against him and Tommy warns Moseley she is dangerous. “We adore dangerous,” says Mosley, sounding like a posh Nigel Farage. The Brexit parallels with the Tories/UKIP are all redolent. Mosley’s pitch is that he’s putting together a band and is keen to get Tommy’s Brummie muscle on board with like-minded Irish activists.

Ada sees through the soft-soaping – Mosley knows about Dangerous, Tommy’s late racehorse, and Tommy’s drug-binge parties with the upper-class set. But a Scotch versus Irish whiskey debate finally convinces Tommy that Mosley could be connected with the IRA gang that held Michael captive – further fuelling his paranoia that everyone is after his ‘throne’.

It appears you are moving away from the [Labour] party in a different direction,” says Tommy. Oh, you think so, Mr Shelby?

We are the people and we have had enough,” echoes Mosley from Tommy’s speech.

The aggressive debriefing Michael is given about his kidnapping proves that his floozy Gina (Anya Taylor-Joy), now his protective (and pregnant) wife, is made of tough stuff. Although Michael is absolved of wilful deception, he has been demoted in the family and now expected to carry out more dangerous work – much to the fury of his mother Polly (Helen McCrory).

It’s down to Linda (Kate Phillips), carrying on her Lady Macbeth routine, to make her witless husband Arthur (Paul Anderson) screw his courage to the sticking place. This she does by chucking away all the alcohol and cocaine in the house and bringing him up to speed on how Tommy is losing control of the legitimate family fortune by reverting to their old ways – fixing horseraces and football matches and running narcotics.

It also hadn’t dawned on Arthur that the working-class hero is also making ends meet by selling out the communists to the British secret service. And long-suffering Linda and Tommy’s worried wife Lizzy (Natasha O’Keefe) have done a good job of joining the dots in the murder of the poor gay newspaper hack.

Indeed, things are escalating fast and soon the booby-trapped scarecrow isn’t the only crucifixion around. Faithful family retainers feel the usurpers’ power. By the end of the episode it all goes so horrifically New Testament that Judas is invoked – along with more than a dash of The Long Good Friday.

Deborah Shrewsbury


REVIEW: Peaky Blinders (S5 E1/6)

The red right hand is back and this time Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) is desperately looking to lift the reputation of Small Heath’s 1930s equivalent of the Sopranos family into respectability. Well, he’s a Member of Parliament, anyway.

If it were possible, Tommy now looks even more careworn. In series four he saw off Luca Changretta’s mob, at great personal cost, by doing a deal with Al Capone to turn his henchman against him, but younger brother John was murdered on his doorstep by the rump of the Changretta gang. We were actually quite relieved to see an end to Luca (Adrien Brody channelling Al Pacino – badly. Hoo-haa!). We weren’t so happy to see the magnetic and melancholic Alfie Solomons (Tom Hardy) gunned down by Tommy for betraying him to the Changrettas, although it was in the nature of a mercy killing as he vouchsafed that he was dying of cancer anyway.

As series five opens the Shelbys are scattered to the winds. Tommy is Labour MP for Birmingham South, Michael (Finn Cole) in Detroit in the US, Aunt Polly (the fabulous Helen McCrory) is in Monte Carlo, older brother Arthur (Paul Anderson) is still strong-arming rival gangs in the UK. It’s October 1929 – and the world is just about to buckle as the sky turns black with bankers throwing themselves onto the sidewalk at Wall Street and the US plunges into the Great Depression.

Michael, who had been warned that the crash was imminent but failed to move the company’s investments, wakes up with his floozy from a drunken stupor to find on the ticker tape that the Shelby fortune is gone; his mum, Aunt Polly is rudely interrupted mid-cavort with a toyboy in her luxury apartment by the unwelcome news.

To keep Tommy’s hands ostensibly clean, idiot elder brother Arthur is now chairman of the board in charge of the extortion and executions business, sending in hardnuts led by Aberama Gold (Aiden Gillen). But against orders young brother Finn (Harry Kirton) tags along to the shakedown of a Chinatown brothel and is shot – sadly, not fatally (the brains reside in Tommy and Polly in this clan).

Although Tommy’s young son Charlie (Jenson Clarke) is catching on fast. When his dad tries to explain that he was putting one of the family’s sick racehorses to sleep, Charlie throws a strop. “No! You shoot horses, you shoot people – that’s what you do. Everyone says.”

Arthur’s coke addict wife Linda (Kate Phillips), fed up with her husband taking all the risks while Tommy lords it down in the Commons, sets herself up as a latter-day Lady Macbeth by riling up her husband to get a better share of the company – well, we can’t see that going too well.

Among the downtrodden citizenry in Small Heath Tommy is a hero, offering largesse to the denizens of the pub that is second home to the Shelbys. If only they knew he is no socialist man of the people but a cold-hearted gangster capitalist playing both sides against the middle – using his clout to troubleshoot for the Jeffrey Epstein-style Lord Suckerby (Tim Woodward) by staging the hit on the brothel to rescue compromising photographs of his lordship. However, when Suckerby tries to stiff him on payment, pleading a cashflow shortfall, Tommy resorts to blackmail.

Hardly pausing to draw breath, Tommy also has inquisitive homosexual journalist Michael Levitt, formerly on a Birmingham evening paper and now working in Fleet Street, murdered in his Maida Vale home because he just can’t be bothered to blackmail him.

Still, his impassioned Commons speech on behalf of the working-class poor goes down a storm with the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and possible future Labour prime minister, Sir Oswald Mosley. Yes, that Mosley, who is just about to become leader of the British Union of Fascists. Interesting times lie ahead.

It’s been a long two years of waiting for fans of creator Steven Knight’s stylish period crime drama, but it is so worth it. The fast, casual violence still mesmerises against a tremendous rock soundtrack, and it has to be the most sumptuously shot TV drama since, well, the previous series. Great slo-mo Reservoir Dogs-style walking shots are given a fresh look because of the uncharacteristically strong female characters involved. Oh, and did we mention that chippy Shelby sister Ada (Sophie Rundle) is pregnant again? She’s going to be trouble.

Deborah Shrewsbury

BBC One confirms Peaky Blinders transmission date

We’ve known for a while that series of five of Peaky Blinders is just around the corner.

Now we know exactly when it’s going to happen, and the Beeb has given it a primetime slot.

Peaky Blinders fan art will also be used to promote the show’s fifth series across the BBC.

Submissions from more than 1,000 fans around the world were whittled down to 16, which have been commissioned by the show’s creators.

The commissions “are all about celebrating and giving recognition to the Peaky Blinders fans”, said Emma Brooke, from BBC Creative.

Series five of the Brummie period gangster show finds the world thrown into turmoil by the financial crash of 1929. Opportunity and misfortune are everywhere. When Tommy Shelby MP is approached by a charismatic politician with a bold vision for Britain, he realises that his response will affect not just his family’s future but that of the entire nation.

BBC One releases first trailer for Peaky Blinders series five

The fifth series of turn-of-the-century, Birmingham-based gangster drama, Peaky Blinders, is just around the corner.

Now BBC One has released the first trailer.

Series five of Steven Knight’s crime family saga finds the world thrown into turmoil by the financial crash of 1929. Opportunity and misfortune are everywhere. When Tommy Shelby MP is approached by a charismatic politician with a bold vision for Britain, he realises that his response will affect not just his family’s future but that of the entire nation.

Peaky Blinders V begins filming, first image released

Another crime drama heavyweight has begun production.

Peaky Blinders – Steven Knight’s early 20th-century gangland opus – is back in production for its fifth series. The first image has been released of Cillian Murphy reprising his role as Tommy Shelby in the new series of the acclaimed gangster drama, which began filming in Manchester in September.

Here it is:

Also returning to the series are Helen McCrory, Paul Anderson, Sophie Rundle , Finn Cole, Kate Phillips and Natasha O’Keefe.

Aidan Gillen and Jack Rowan return as father and son heavyweights Aberama and Bonnie Gold along with Charlie Murphy and Kingsley Ben-Adir. Series five also sees the return of series regulars Harry Kirton, Packy Lee, Ned Dennehy, Ian Peck and poet/musician Benjamin Zephaniah.

Series five of Steven Knight’s crime family saga finds the world thrown into turmoil by the financial crash of 1929. Opportunity and misfortune are everywhere. When Tommy Shelby MP is approached by a charismatic politician with a bold vision for Britain, he realises that his response will affect not just his family’s future but that of the entire nation.

Look out for it next year.