It’s a sad rule that many great works or artists aren’t appreciated until after their time. Painters die before their masterpieces sell for millions. Films flop before cult followings imbue them with new life. Even some songs only hit their stride once they are sampled or covered by another artist. Peaky Blinders, thankfully, is not one of these works – but it almost was.
The first couple of series trundled out on BBC2 – critically appreciated, but never water cooler talk. Fast-forward to the upcoming season, however, and even the much-anticipated and much-speculated air date has been front page news, with a fifth series already commissioned and expectations high for the imminent fourth. But why can’t anyone wait for Peaky Blinders – which returns on November 15 – the best gang drama on TV?
Cillian Murphy’s performance
It goes without saying that Cillian Murphy’s Tommy Shelby is the main draw of the series. The overall leader of the Peaky Blinders, and brother to four more Shelbys, Murphy plays the disturbed war hero with aplomb – outsmarting every poor soul who tries to cross him. And, if his actions aren’t enough to mesmerise you, just listen to the way he delivers his words – hypnotic, poetic and frequently chilling.
Everything about Peaky Blinders is fantastic, but the attention to detail surrounding the sets and particularly costumes is impeccable. From the long coats to the starched white shirts to the long leather boots, it’s no wonder that subcultures across the country have taken up the show’s signature style as their own. But the real stars of the show are those handsome hats – featuring the titular and terrifying razor-primed peaks.
The brilliant - if anachronistic - music
Although Netflix has brought the show to a much wider audience – and we thank it for that – the pesky streaming service’s licensing issues means that we lose a large chunk of the excellent, out-of-time soundtrack. From Nick Cave’s hauntingly seedy theme tune, ‘Red Right Hand’, to tunes by The White Stripes, Johnny Cash and even Radiohead, the soundtrack reads like a record of the best soulful, bluesy songs out there. Who cares if it’s the 1920s? Stick some Bowie on.
The return of Tom Hardy
Not many people could hold a candle to the gripping performance of Cillian Murphy as Tommy Shelby, but count on Tom Hardy to get the job done. As the leader of a Jewish gang in Camden Town, Hardy’s Alfie Solomons is not only a worthy physical opponent of the Peaky Blinders, but also incredibly intelligent. That said, the two factions have had a fractious relationship up until now – with double-crossing and in-fighting rife. What’ll Hardy bring to season 4?
The unrivalled cinematography
With a visual look that rivals Gangs of New York for authenticity, Peaky Blinders boasts simply stunning cinematography for a television show – and one funded by the BBC at that. Up there with one of the strongest reasons we can’t wait to see the show back on our screens, the hazy, dull look of 1920s Birmingham sets the scene wonderfully for the murky goings on in the show – and we can’t wait to watch the drama unfold in the unfurling fog once more.
Cillian Murphy was unsure about the haircuts when he began work on Peaky Blinders. Four years later, and the shaven head look is rife across Britain – and Murphy looks more like a style icon than somebody trying to rock a historically-accurate but questionably-stylish head of hair. The style, which was employed in the 1920s to combat head lice, is surely going to see barbers busy once more – and it’s a cut we’re keen to see more of.
The arrival of Adrien Brody
When Tom Hardy rocked up on the Peaky Blinders roster in season 2, people were surprised that a star of such calibre was joining the cast. This time around, however, the production team have done one better – and Oscar-winner Adrien Brody is arriving in Birmingham. As Italian mobster Luca Changretta, Brody certainly looks the part, and he has the acting chops to back up his menacing look. We predict fireworks – or a lot of gunfire, at least.
The endlessly quotable lines
The soft-spoken and the shouted give us an almost endless supply of insults, wit and wisdom to draw upon after an episode of Peaky Blinders, and we can’t wait to hear what pearls writer Steven Knight has put to paper this time. A selection of our favourite from the past three seasons? “We’re a close family, always within punching distance”, “Everyone’s a whore. We just sell different parts of ourselves”, and the iconic “I’ve heard very bad, bad, bad things about you Birmingham people”.
The up-and-comer Finn Cole
In the latest issue of Gentleman’s Journal, we speak to Finn Cole about the latest season of Peaky Blinders. And, while we dressed Cole in some of this season’s latest evening wear and spent a day with him in one of London’s top hotels, he remained tight-lipped about any spoilers. But, with one of the youngest Blinders already playing a blinder – we can’t wait to see what he delivers in the new season.
The Shelby story continuing
The fourth season is said to be set in 1926, and will include storylines set around the General Strike. Going back to basics and back to Birmingham, the family will leave their more luxurious lifestyle out in the country and will have to return to fighting for their survival in Small Heath. That said, writer Steven Knight also wants the family to become wealthier and more powerful – suggesting they won’t be down for long…