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Peaky Blinders Q&A with Cillian Murphy, Helen McCrory, Paul Anderson, Caryn Mandabach and Steven Knight

SPOILER ALERT – Episode 1, Series 3


I have a spring in my step today. No, it’s not because it’s already Wednesday and only the second working day of my week, although that is rather nice. No, it’s because last night I ventured across Waterloo Bridge after work to attend the glitzy premier of Peaky Blinders, series 3. I’m not going to pretend I was invited; I wasn’t. In fact, I had to stand in a queue on my own for two hours for a slight chance that I might be able to buy a ticket if people from the guest list didn’t show up.

As I fumbled across the bridge, taking in a view that I coined my favourite in London almost 11 years ago when I lived in Waterloo as a student, I pictured hoards of people who had been waiting since the morning. When I approached the front doors I took a deep breath and hoped for the best. To my surprise there were only 9 people in front of me. So I waited and was teased by the media circus going on around me – flashing cameras and cast snaking past the queue to make their way upstairs to get papped. It wasn’t until 5 minutes before the show started that I finally had a ticket in hand.

When I departed England in 2014 to live in Australia, I left during the second series of Peaky Blinders. The first series had been enjoyed so much by me and my boyfriend at the time and the last time I watched an episode, I was sat in his flat that was meant to be our flat saying goodbye for the last time. It was a bittersweet evening and one that I wouldn’t wish to forget. The show symbolises a part of my life that was at that time falling apart quite catastrophically, so the emotional attachment I have to it caused an overwhelming sense of nostalgia as the first scene of series 3 reached a climax.

By the time this post goes live, I am hoping all you fans will have seen it. I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but the first episode ties everything together from the last series very neatly and paves the way for a number of exciting plot lines to look forward to. Tommy and Grace marry, Arthur is sober, the family is still rough as a bunch of rusty nails, but the Shelby family is now rich beyond its wildest dreams and even deeper into corruption and illegal activities.

The end of the evening culminated with a Q&A with three stars of the show, Cillian Murphy, Helen McCrory, Paul Anderson, plus Exec producer Caryn Mandabach and Exec Producer Steven Knight. Not only was it amazing to see and hear the actors out of character, but to hear them talk so passionately about their characters, the show’s history, it’s future and the real life stories and lesser known historical events that didn’t just inspire the show, but made it.

The end of the second series catapulted the hairs on my arms into space and left my heart beating as rapidly as if I were at the top of a bungy jump ledge. Tommy Shelby, the show’s protagonist was about to be shot and buried in the middle of nowhere, but a series of quick events ensured his demise was not to be. During the Q&A, which lasted for around 45 minutes after the episode had screened, Steven Knight made an excellent point that “At the end of the second series he looks as though he wishes he was dead.”

Speaking on the joys of TV acting, Murphy revealed his reasons for loving TV acting, proclaiming that he loves both TV and film, but that with TV “long form storytelling has allowed people to shine a light into people’s brains that you won’t get in a feature film. In a feature film there’s the bad guy and there’s the good guy.”

Speaking of character development and Director Tim Mielant’s role in ensuring the cast keep each character fresh, Murphy said “It’s pretty easy after two series to be used to the character you’re playing, but Tim kept pushing us the whole time”. Anderson also had great things to say about Mielant, a Belgian Director that joined the crew for Series 3, proclaiming “Tim is a lunatic. That’s why I love him and that’s why we got on. A lot of the time he would suggest things and you would think ‘f**k’ because it was so far away from what you were thinking”.

During the session a few giggles were had by cast and crew. Cillian claimed that he ‘f*****g hates moany actors’ and when asked about why he decided to wear a fake moustache for the series, Anderson replied in his hard southern accent, “It’s not like the whole character is in the tash. When I take it off at the end of the day, although I have that horrible haircut, there is still a change and a difference. Otherwise when I’m walking around with that haircut and that tash, I’m walking around as Arthur!”

As much as Anderson’s real voice could be mistaken for his character’s, it’s clear that Murphy and McCrory have to work hard to create a believable Brummy accent. Murphy hails from Dublin and McCrory from London. Although McCrory’s accent doesn’t match her character’s, her air of grace and elegance does. Polly may not be born into wealth, but she has a fair drive and determination to make it in the world. McCrory said “She wants to succeed in the world that Tommy has put the family into, one of wealth and class. It’s like when you think you’re in the VIP room and they go ‘there’s another room just behind there’.”

Other topics of the evening were character developments and stories of celebrity love, including Snoop Dogg inviting Steven Knight to his hotel room for a three hour chat because of his love for the show. Knight also said that none of the stories that he has turned into a well respected TV drama series were in the history books until the show cast a light on them, also mentioning that if you look at the newspapers of the time, you will find much more extraordinary stories than you would find if you just looked at the history books. “I have got a passionate belief that history as its written or recorded is nothing like what really happened and what I hope Peaky’s is, is a reflection of stuff that actually really happened to real people, turned into drama.”

The Q&A ended with recollection of a great musical moment that will be remembered by all. The late David Bowie made contact with Murphy last year, which resulted in discussions about music from his new album featuring in the third series. Sadly, not long after confirmation, Bowie Passed away. “We all know what David did with his life and at the end of his life he wanted to do this, so obviously we are honoured to be able to use his music on this new series”, Knight said.

With rappers, rock legends, fellow actors and thousands of drama fans around the world, it’s no coincidence that Peaky Blinders is one of the best TV dramas of our time. I feel privileged to have been at the premier and cannot wait to be glued to my TV for the rest of the series. I love you, Peaky Blinders.

Peaky Blinders Series 3 airs on BBC2 from Thursday 5th May

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