Season 5 of Peaky Blinders will touch upon Irish history and politics (No spoilers)
The Shelbys are back on 25 August and Irish fans are in for a treat.
Right from the very first two episodes of Peaky Blinders, Steven Knight made his intentions clear with regards to Tommy Shelby. The show may be set in Birmingham but this was a drama about relations within the UK and Ireland.
After Winston Churchill sent Inspector Campbell (Sam Neill) to Birmingham from Belfast to retrieve guns, the show immediately synced with the historical events of the era as Tommy threatened to send the weapons to the IRA and ruin Campbell's work in Northern Ireland.
In terms of plot, Peaky Blinders has been heavily influenced by events in the 32 counties and the same can be said for its production because the cast and crew boast a litany of Irish talent.
Cillian Murphy, Packy Lee, Charlie Murphy, Aidan Gillen, Brian Gleeson, Ned Dennehy, Daryl McCormack, Emmett Scanlan, and even Sam Neill (born in Omagh) are just some of the acting talent that has featured in front of the camera, but behind it, the list is just as impressive.
Dubliner Anthony Byrne is the man that's responsible for directing the new season and he's taking over the reigns from another former Love/Hate director, David Caffrey.
With news that the show will return on 25 August, JOE had the opportunity to chat with Cillian Murphy and Steven Knight, the creator of Peaky Blinders and Knight said that while the show's focus is still predominantly on events in Britain, Ireland will still be a factor.
At the end of Season 4, we saw that Tommy has now been elected as an MP for Birmingham. In terms of this character change, Knight drew inspiration from the arc of certain Irish politicians.
"The gangster to politician path is trodden more often in America though. If you think of Joseph Kennedy taking that journey from an alleged rum runner to the UK ambassador - in a very short space of time. It's certainly feasible here though (Westminster) and I suppose in modern times, the nearest comparison would be Belfast where someone that has a reputation for violence, then becomes a representative and a very good one at that. It is a feasible path to follow," said knight.
The turmoil by the financial crash of 1929 will be a factor in the new episodes and as the show enters a new time period, Knight said that the new season will deal with the issues of that particular era.
"The women’s Civil Rights movement and the issue of equality in the workplace has always been something that I’ve tried to cover, ever since Season 1. I’ve tried to keep that as a theme because when the soldiers returned from WWI - and by legislation - factories had to give a job to a man over the women. Through Polly, Jessie, and the other strong women in the family, there’s always that tension between what’s possible and what used to be possible in modern times.
"In terms of Ireland, it is there in this series, as you’ll see because there are strong connections between the Shelbys and Belfast. You will see that but it was actually quite a fallow period - the late 20s - in terms of how it impacted on Britain," said Knight.
Throughout the four seasons of the show, there have been so many facets to the character of Tommy Shelby and even in the most recent season, we learned that the most intelligent powerful man in Birmingham had Communist sympathies before leaving for WWI.
As Season 5 approaches, where is Tommy's headspace at?
“I think that this year feels to me like a little more about the inside of Tommy’s head. Last season was very much about external forces - like the guise of the Mafia - and it was pretty conventional in terms of what he was dealing with. Of course, there was his own psyche and mental fragility to deal with too - that’s always apparent with Tommy - but in this season, it seems to me that it’s more explicit. It’s more about Tommy wrestling with his own head and that’s fantastic to play, obviously," said the Corkman.
In the Season 4 finale, viewers saw that Tommy was still struggling to deal with his post-war PTSD as he became more reliant on alcohol and drugs to deflect from the pain.
Murphy feels that this aspect of the character will never go away but it's something that he enjoys playing.
"I think that it all stems back to that. I think that it has often been talked about in the show, like, there’s a Tommy that existed pre-WWI and now we’re seeing Tommy in the post war environment. They’re such different characters and it’s all informed by that experience. In terms of his relationships, now he has become a father and you can see how he’s trying to wrestle with that and also the fact that these men just medicated themselves and didn’t have any actual help.
"In terms of Tommy’s drinking, it has always been a thing with him that there’s some element of self-medication that’s going on. We saw that last year, especially in that scene when he’s alone in the bedroom and he just got wasted, then his little boy saw him. I think that’s how he knows and feels that he’s functioning but he’s got such incredible intellectual depth and is so relentless that he manages to function. It’s sort of crazy to think about," said Murphy.
Thankfully, the countdown is finally on because Peaky Blinders returns to our screens on 25 August at 9pm on BBC1.
JOE will have plenty more over the next few weeks with exclusive interviews from the likes of Sam Claflin, Aidan Gillen, and even more from Steven Knight and Cillian Murphy.
Keep your eyes peeled...by order of the Peaky Blinders!