Following a street gang known as the Peaky Blinders, the popular BBC television show of the same name has captured the attention of millions of viewers. But do fans know that it is based on an actual gang? Or that Sam Neill got help perfecting his Irish accent from two well-known actors?
Keep reading because not knowing these Peaky Blinders facts is nothing short of criminal.
Two Cast Members Are Brothers In Real Life
As it turns out, there is a familial connection between two of the cast members of Peaky Blinders. Joe and Finn Cole, who play John Shelby and Michael Gray, respectively, are actually brothers in real life!
Joe is the oldest of five boys in the Cole family, while John is the second youngest.
Digbeth Was Crowded During An Open Casting Call
During the season two casting call for Peaky Blinders, hopefuls lined up for a chance to appear in the popular show. In fact, so many people showed up for the call in Digbeth that there was a half-mile-long queue of boys ages 13-19!
The call asked for boys within the age range, and they were not required to have previous acting experience.
The Actors Birmingham Accents Were Criticised
In the series, many of the actors adopt a Birmingham accent, as it is where the show takes place. However, many British viewers criticized the accents, saying it is not accurately portrayed.
The actors defended their accents, though, saying it was the dialect back in the 1920s, something that is different from the modern-day accent.
Tom Hardy And Cillian Murphy Have Worked On Four Christopher Nolan Films Together
The television series Peaky Blinders isn’t the first time actors Tom Hardy, and Cillian Murphy have worked with one another. In fact, they’ve worked together on four Christopher Nolan films.
Over the years, the two actors have been in Nolan’s movies The Dark Knight, Inception, Dunkirk, and The Dark Knight Rises.
Tony Pitts Has Played More Than One Corrupt Police Officer
In seasons one through four of Peaky Blinders, Tony Pitts plays the role of Inspector Moss, a corrupt police officer who works out of Birmingham. Amazingly, this isn’t Pitts’s first time playing a corrupt law enforcement agent.
In 2012, the actor played Detective Hargreaves, a corrupt police officer, in the series Line of Duty.
The Peaky Blinders Was A Real Street Gang
The Shelby family, also known as the street gang the Peaky Blinders, is actually based on a gang of the same name.
The real Peaky Blinders gang was from Birmingham, England, and ran from the 1880s until the 1910s. Like the show, they were known to wear tailored jackets, buttoned waistcoats, leather boots, and flat peaked caps.
Viewers Never See Cillian Murphy Eat On Screen
An interesting fact revolving around Cillian Murphy’s character Tommy Shelby is that he is never seen eating on screen. Yes, he sits at the table while his family and gang eat meals, but Murphy never actually eats the food.
The only thing viewers see Murphy’s character consume is water, whiskey, and the plant blackroot.
Benjamin Zephaniah Is A Post-War Writer
While Benjamin Zephaniah might be known for his role as the local priest Jeremiah Jesus in Peaky Blinders, he is actually better known as a writer. In 2008, The Times named Zephaniah one of Britain’stop 50 post-war writers.
His preferred writing style is dub poetry, a type of performance poetry that evolved from dub music out of Kingston, Jamaica.
Bill Kimber Was Once The Biggest Crime Boss In The UK
Bill Kimber’s gang the Birmingham Boys took over after the fall of Peaky Blinders in the 1910s. Their main games were extortion, bribery, and smuggling, among other things, and they were in power from the 1910s until the 1930s.
During that time, their leader, Bill Kimber, was the largest crime boss in the United Kingdom.
Sam Neill’s Irish Accent Is Thanks To Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt
Actor Sam Neill plays Chief Inspector Chester Campbell in Peaky Blinders. While Neill was born in Ireland, he grew up in New Zealand and therefore had to enlist the help of Northern Irish actors Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt.
Their job was to help Neill fine-tune and perfect his Irish accent.
Tom Hardy Is Married To One Of His Co-Stars
On Peaky Blinders, actor Tom Hardy plays the role of Alfie Solomons. While they did not meet on the set of the series, Hardy is married to his season two and four co-stars, Charlotte Riley.
The two were married in 2014 after meeting on the set of the ITV adaptation of Wuthering Heights.
There’s No Evidence That Razor Blades Were Put In Hats
One defining characteristic of the Peaky Blinders gang is the razor blades they stitch into their hats. While this leads to some pretty intense fight scenes in the series, there is no evidence that the real-life gang ever used this tactic during their rule.
Even so, the show makes it, so the razor blades are the reason why the gang is called the Peaky Blinders and not because of the hats themselves.
The Sabini Gang Was Very Real
The Sabini Gang ran London’s criminal underground after taking over for the Birmingham Boys in the 1930s. The very real gang, led by Charles “Darby” Sabini, had around 100 members and ran several nightclubs.
The gang even had several police officers in their ranks, which helped them run their businesses without interference.
Tommy Shelby Is Nothing More Than A Fictional Character
While the Peaky Blinders gang was very much a real street gang from the 1910s and 1920s, there is one person who is not mentioned in any literature. Tommy Shelby, played by actor Cillian Murphy, is actually not a real person.
He is one of the lead characters in Peaky Blinders, yet he is nothing more than fictional.
Jason Statham Was Favored To Play Tommy Shelby
When Peaky Blinders was casting for the role of Tommy Shelby, Cillian Murphy was not the first choice. Coming down to the end of the wire, the role was between Jason Statham and Murphy, with the producers highly favoring the former for the role solely due to his imposing form.
In the end, Murphy wound up getting the role.
There Was Supposed To Be A Seventh Season
Even though creator Steven Knight said there was going to be a season seven of Peaky Blinders, it was announced that they weren’t going to move forward with the project.
After season six was delayed, it was decided that there was not going to be a season seven but a spin-off film instead.
Cillian Murphy Drank Over 200 Whiskeys During Production
Cillian Murphy’s character of Tommy Shelby is known to enjoy a glass of whiskey or two. During the production, it is estimated that Murphy consumed over 200 glasses of whiskey!
Thankfully, it was nothing more than prop whiskey, so Murphy never delayed filming due to nursing a hangover the following day.
Horse Race Gambling Is Accurately Portrayed
One of the Peaky Blinders’ sources of income is dealing with money passed back and forth from gambling on horse races. During the time, gambling was largely prohibited, making the bookie-type “job” illegal.
The series Peaky Blinders accurately portrays old-time gambling, as large gangs typically took it upon themselves to organize large-scale operations.
A Peaky Blinders Video Game Was Released In 2020
Fans of Peaky Blinders might be happy to learn that a video game revolving around the series was released in 2020, Peaky Blinders: Mastermind. The game takes place after the Great War but before the events of season one.
Players are able to become Tommy Shelby or other Shelby family members as they uncover a plot to take out the family business.
Cillian Murphy Smoked Around 6,000 Fake Cigarettes For His Role
Actor Cillian Murphy, who plays Tommy Shelby on Peaky Blinders, is known to have a cigarette in his mouth while on screen. One fan of the show calculated that Murphy smoked around 6,000 during production!
The prop cigarettes contained no tobacco and were merely an herbal blend rolled in paper.