Peaky Blinders: sex and drugs and rock and roll. And extreme violence

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Peaky Blinders: sex and drugs and rock and roll. And extreme violence

May 05, 2016 - 22:34
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16 reader reviews
Average: 4.6 (48 votes)
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Sex and drugs and rock and roll. And graphic violence. And murder. The dream wedding didn’t go exactly according to plan.

Peaky Blinders: Tommy's wedding party

Sex and drugs and rock and roll. And graphic violence. And murder. The dream wedding didn’t go exactly according to plan.

Welcome back BBC2’s wonderfully OTT Peaky Blinders, the extreme drama that tests the outer limits of family entertainment. And then goes further.

As series three got underway with an extraordinary first episode, charismatic crook Tommy Shelby and his blushing bride Grace were married by a black priest with Rastafarian dreadlocks. In 1922 I’m guessing clerics like that were thin on the ground.

Sadly, the happy couple’s special day went badly wrong. They were late for the speeches because they were upstairs bonking. Naturally, their passionate liaison was lovingly filmed in explicit detail. Yay.

Meanwhile, Tommy’s psycho brother Arthur was down in the basement engaged in a ferocious fight with a shady Russian. There was blood everywhere. Especially when they started biting chunks out of each other. If Luis Suarez ever decides to take up acting, there’s a role for him here.

When triumphant Arthur shot his rival dead, the bang interrupted the banging. “What was that?” cried a cocaine-addled girl in a nearby room. “Just a car backfiring,” replied the guy who was knee-trembling her half way up the wall. It’s that kind of show.

Outside in the mansion’s grounds, bare men were bare-knuckle beating each other to a pulp and, with Winston Churchill’s secret backing, Tommy was sealing a lucrative deal to sell weapons to the loyalists plotting to overthrow Russia’s Communist government. As you do.

Reflecting on their unconventional nuptials, Grace sighed: “It wasn’t the day I was expecting.” Nodding sagely, Tommy replied: “Nor me.” On the plus side, it’ll be hard to forget.

The sensational Line Of Duty is a tough act to follow. But it’s well worth making a Thursday night date with the Blinders. Although it might not be one you want to watch with the kids. Unless they’re over 30.

Based on a real-life Birmingham street gang who secreted razor blades in their peaked caps to blind their opponents in their regular vicious brawls, this lavish production chronicles the rags to riches story of a bunch of hoodlums who made good and made a fortune.

Pulsing along to a stirring rock music soundtrack, it’s a slickly stylish affair. A swirling mass of vice and debauchery starring Cillian Murphy as the ruthless Tommy, Paul Anderson as his volatile sibling Arthur and Helen McCrory as their wicked Aunt Polly.

Excellent performances (despite some decidedly dodgy Brummie accents), fantastic classic cars and fabulous roaring twenties fashion, Peaky Blinders is a feast for the eyes and an assault on the senses.

And if you’re pining for Line Of Duty, there are bent coppers all over the place. Police corruption eh? What would we do without it?

What do you think? Write your review.

There are 16 Comments

Nige Smith's picture

I love this series it always delivers, sex, violence, gangsters, Birmingham, what more do you want. But and its a big but, BBC get the bloody mix right I had to crank the sound right up so I could hear them. Plus I was not sure about some of the sound track edits. They seemed out of sync with with the action at times. On the whole great stuff it will get better and better.

laigna's picture

He's a gamblin' man with a red right hand, but not this week. Brother Arthur gets the dirty work, while Tommy keeps his hands relatively clean.
The boys are back with murder,mayhem, sex(can do without that bit) and violence.
Just what we need to kickstart the weekend.
Series 3 is gonna be good.

SCARFMAN_'s picture


Before the series three of Peaky Blinders aired last week I did not have a clue about it whatsoever. I did not know it's genre, who was in it or where it was set. I just knew it was a critically acclaimed drama that I have seen a few of my friends rave about on social media. I therefore intended on missing series three of Peaky Blinders because I had not seen any of the first two series. This really frustrated me but my thinking was that, surely I had left it too late now to get into it......hadn't I?

I turned Twitter on last Thursday morning(the day the first episode of series three was due to air) and I read a message from a friend telling me how much I should watch Peaky Blinders that following evening. Given what I have just told you about me knowing absolutely nothing about this programme, I was therefore initially rather dismissive at this suggestion. My mind was made up that I was not going to watch it, simple. Nevertheless, this friend persisted and encouraged me that I should still try and watch it. They told me to view it from now on and see if I could make sense of it. Not sure how it happened but my very stubborn nature relented for a brief moment with me finally telling them that, "yes, OK then, I will try giving it a go".

By the time my first ever experience of Peaky Blinders was over I concluded that I thought it had been an enjoyable watch, yet at the same time not an exceptional one. It had taken me until about halfway through before I really got into it and was able to work out what was going on. I watched this first episode of series three again a few days later and realised that my initial judgement of it was not how I truly felt about it after all. It made so much more sense to me second time around. I loved it and would without a shadow of a doubt now describe it as an excellent piece of work. The action at times was pulsating, menacing and it also had this emotional haunting quality to it that gave it substance over froth. All this accompanied with marvelous background music, it gave Peaky Blinders an impressive cinematic feel.

Being a lover of history I loved the fact that the action was set in the 1920s(1922 to be exact). I also had no idea that Peaky Blinders was an actual real gang back in the day. Whilst viewing it for the first time I had just assumed that this gang was a complete work of fiction. It is a very British show with the significant depiction of the class war that pervaded all strands of British society back then. When thinking how best to describe this show I came up with, 'a darker Downton Abbey with violence and guns'. This might be doing Peaky Blinders a grave disservice though because I already much to prefer it to Downton, even after just seeing one episode.

I had heard of the actor Cillian Murphy before but never actually seen him in anything. Casting him in the lead role of Tommy Shelby was an absolute masterstroke. His performance had a menacing edge to it coupled with a likable charm. Other performances worthy of high praise in this episode were those of actress Helen McCrory(who plays Aunt Polly) and actor Paul Anderson(who plays Arthur Shelby Jnr, Tommy's older troubled brother). I thought Paul delivered an acting masterclass as Arthur with his troubled tortured soul, as he carried out the execution of the Russian guy who they believed was a fake.

I am so pleased that I allowed myself to be persuaded last week to watch this programme after all. The BBC so far this year has put out some amazing drama and already this looks like being added to that prestigious group, e.g. Happy Valley, The Night Manager, Line of Duty and Thirteen. Roll on til this coming Thursday I say then when episode two of series three of Peaky Blinders airs......Peaky Blinders, WHAT A BRILLIANT BRUTAL WORLD!! 4/5.

Nige Smith's picture

Great review but it's not quite as historically accurate as you think it is! But still great, to be honest I thought that was one of the poorer episodes out of all 3 series and I am a huge fan.

SCARFMAN_'s picture

Thanks mate. I just meant that this gang actually existed and was therefore not a fictional creation, nothing more. I've nothing to compare it too so I'll take your word for it. Great episode though, love discovering a new show that gets me hooked.

Oneday1's picture

Terrific. A series where all the right production values and essence of the piece shine through. One of the best dramas series for a long time.

Henrietta Knight's picture

By Henrietta Knight

It was quite a wedding. Gate crashers, late night horse racing, bare knuckle fighting, murder, cocaine snorting and sex in a cupboard.

“It wasn’t the day I was expecting,” said blushing bride Grace.

“Nor me”, replied her Birmingham gangster husband Tommy Shelby as he had just claimed his conjugal rights while the guests were downstairs waiting for their dinner.

If the last two series of Peaky Blinders is anything to go by, the third is going to be even more steamy, violent and thrilling. The first episode starts in the church in 1924. It’s not clear whether steely-eyed Tommy, played by Cillian Murphy, is going to follow his heart and marry Grace (Annabelle Wallis), or May, who is better connected and has pots of money.

As the bride glides up the aisle, she lifts up her dark blue lace veil and Tommy is clearly delighted that it’s former copper Grace. At the wedding reception, proceedings begin to go downhill when psychotic Arthur Shelby falls off the wagon before making his off beam best man speech. He rounds off the happy day by fighting with a dodgy Russian, biting, killing and then throwing him on a bonfire.

Peaky Blinder’s a downmarket Downton Abbey with good-looking gangsters and their molls with stunning clothes, fabulous vintage cars and grand houses set to a pounding contemporary soundtrack.

Nige Smith's picture

Now Peaky Blinders seems to have recovered and is well and truly back on form. This after what I thought was not a brilliant episode a very good one but not great.

But will the BBC turn the excellent tunes down and a touch and turn the verbal parts up a bit in the mix. We do not want a repeat of Jamaica Inn or Happy Valley mixing problems.

Nige Smith's picture

No probs Scarfman it was a good point, it was just some know it all client of mine was telling me about the real Peaky Blinders, who in comparison to this lot were bloody dull. I love this lot they kick butt. Usually violently but they kick it.

Nige Smith's picture

The Peaky Blinders seem to rediscovered their mean streak, the simmering tension within the Shelby family is brewing. Is Aunt Polly losing control, has Tommy gained control. But is Michael waiting in the wings to seize control of the Birmingham empire. Arthur and John seem to think he is an untrustworthy pen pusher in need of some steel. The lad is very good at philandering, so can he take this animal aggression into the crime world.

Cillian Murphy and Helen McCrory are brilliant in this. She plays the part so well and Murphy plays Tommy as he is, violent, but with a caring side but always a volcano waiting to erupt.
Arthur looks to have regained the psychotic edge again which is great, now to become a dad but still a thug at heart. His God fearing wife will not change him.

The Russians have well and truly entered the fray now and expect Tommy to put paid the Priest soon. The Russian princess and her escort are mysterious, what exactly is he to her, a fraud an imposter? Will Tommy get his wicked way with the younger princess, you bet he will.

This is building up very nicely indeed.

PhilipStar's picture

Just found this now, So much better the snoozefest that BBC One showed on Sunday night This is the reason why I am glad BBC Two and Four exist.

SandyP's picture

It's difficult to criticise the fantastic series that is Peaky Blinders. Great casting, great writing, great filming and brilliant music throughout....yes the accents are a bit dubious at times and Polly definitely veers between scouse and South African but I'm being picky. Cillian Murphy can do no wrong and I think we'll see a lot more of him in future or is that just wishful thinking!!!

Kevin O'Sullivan's picture

By Oshcritic

Last night saw the climax to the latest season of Peaky Blinders-BBC One’s baroque Brummie homage to the Corleone family. Whilst it must be said that this third season dipped alarmingly midway through , the finale didn't disappoint. The denouement saw Tommy, head of the Shelby clan, try to outwit the Russians, nick their jewels and ride off into the sunset. His plan started to unravel from the start when the double crossing Father Hughes , played with oily malevolence by a mercurial Paddy Considine, kidnapped his son and demanded the spoils.
What Peaky Blinders does so well is deliver the action with verve and élan. Critics might sneer at the use of a modern soundtrack but it works beautifully and has become an audio signature all of its own; the use of Radiohead’s Life In A Glasshouse being a perfect example last night.
The set design, music, slick direction and charismatic leads mean it probably IS a triumph of style over content but this is not meant as a criticism.There is a boredom of worthy shows that litter the schedules and it’s great that there is a place for this mad as batshit show.
In an hour full of bravura scenes special mention must go to spitting, snarling, gun toting gangster-jew  Alfie Solomons tearing into Tommy for his hypocrisy over his kidnapped boy; “ how many sons have you cut, killed and murdered?” he demands of Tommy. Fair point.
So what next for Birmingham’s finest hipster thugs? If the ending is anything to go by the shows producers have practically dared the BBC to give them another series. On the basis of last night that would be both welcome and well deserved.