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5 Behind-The-Scenes Facts About Peaky Blinders. Part II

A lot of work behind the scenes goes into making a crime drama like Peaky Blinders. Just ask star Cillian Murphy and creator Stephen Knight.

The hustle and bustle of suavely-dressed street gangs are overshadowed only by the commotion of filming the show. Each season’s production takes place over an average of four months and involves everything from star Cillian Murphy smoking a staggering amount of cigarettes to creator Stephen Knight taking his cues from Western movies. Behind the scenes of Peaky Blinders proves almost as exciting as the show itself.

Peaky Blinders Was Meant To Contrast Upper-Class British Period Dramas

Appearing on The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson, Cillian Murphy describes Peaky Blinders as a working-class drama with something to prove because “Britain’s upper class has been so well represented.” In the pantheon of period dramas, British movies and television are often unmatched, but they do often focus on high society.

By showing what life was like for the working class in one of the biggest industrial hubs in Europe at the turn of the 20th century, viewers used to typical British period dramas get a unique perspective that hasn’t been given proper attention before. Murphy goes on to say that in America “the working class are mythologized” with lots of gangster series like Boardwalk Empire and movies by directors like Martin Scorcese.

John Shelby And Michael Gray Are Related

The Shelby family enjoy a close bond and its members are loyal to each other through thick and thin, but who knew that some of the actors in its inner circle were related in real life? As it turns out Joe Cole, who plays John Shelby on the series, also happens to be related to Finn Cole, who plays Michael Gray.

The pair starred in the movie Offender before Joe Cole got the part of John Shelby in Peaky Blinders, and his brother Finn joined him a few years later. As cousins, they two appear mistrustful of one another, especially given Michael’s ambitions, which is even more impressive considering the two actors have grown up together all their lives.

Alfie Solomons And May Carleton Are Married

Though the characters Alfie Solomons and May Carleton come from completely different backgrounds, actors Tom Hardy and Charlotte Riley are married outside of the series. The pair first met in 2009 on the set of the period drama Wuthering Heights, featuring Tom Hardy in the often forgotten role of tortured antihero Heathcliff, and Riley as the focus of his obsessive love, Katherine.

Alfie and May are both characters introduced in the second season of Peaky Blinders, stealing the show as a Jewish crime boss and a racehorse owner recently widowed, and both only appear until the fourth season.

Peaky Blinders Is Based On Westerns

Speaking with History Extra, creator and head writer Stephen Knight explains that while America mythologizes working-class people and revels in stories about cowboys taming the frontier, there aren’t the same sort of revered stories in Britain, except those surrounding “knights in armor”, which too often factor in nobility and the landed gentry.

So if Peaky Blinders appears to have a Western vibe, that’s intentional, from the very opening scene when Knight decided Tommy Shelby should “ride into town” just like every lone cowboy hero in a Western movie. He was desirous for Birmingham to have the same lawlessness as the Wild West, while at the same time capturing the sense of opportunity and the enterprising spirit of its inhabitants.

Jack Rowan Was A Real Boxer

Before he played the part of boxer Bonnie Gold in the series, actor Jack Rowan was an amateur boxer himself. According to i-D, he won 18 out of 27 bought in his teens. He never expected that he’d be using the same mouth guard he used in the real ring to play a 20th-century boxer in a fictional one.

Though he didn’t have a very long character arc, the young fighter joined the blinders in 1926 and became a fan favorite along with his father, infamous assassin Aberama. Unfortunately, Bonnie was used to send a message to the Shelby’s by a rival gang, and the actor’s boxing skills were no longer necessary.

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