Peaky Blinders creator believes that Season 5 is the darkest and strongest series to date
"Season five is the best, it really is. It’s going to be so good."
While there's so much that the cast and crew of Peaky Blinders can be proud of, it's arguable that the show's ever increasing popularity is one of the main sources of pride.
Unlike other big TV productions, the success of Peaky Blinders was incremental as word of mouth, fan culture, and the show's originality made it a draw for audiences around the world.
Simply put, with every passing season of Peaky Blinders, the scope and scale of the gangster drama increases but with that comes increasing levels of expectation.
Right now, Steven Knight's show is a global phenomenon and with Season 5 set to premiere on 25 August, all eyes are on Small Heath.
At the end of Season 4, it appeared that everything was rosy in Tommy Shelby's garden as the Changretta threat and Alfie Solomons' betrayal were dealt with. Aside from this, the Shelby Company were beginning to expand their business operations into the US and Tommy was elected as an MP for Birmingham.
However, as fans of the show will know, things never run smoothly in Birmingham and the threat of violence and danger is never far away. Ahead of the new season launching, JOE had the chance to chat with Steven Knight (writer/creator of Peaky Blinders) and he said that we're now entering the darkest period for the Peaky Blinders.
"Stylistically, it’s the most beautiful season we’ve done. Everything that I’m seeing is just gorgeous. Anthony Byrne (director) is doing an incredible job. In terms of the darkness, because we’re in Tommy’s head a lot - as we always have been throughout the series - it’s sort of told through his point of view and he’s going through a bad time. Simply because he's starting to feel things again and it’s tormenting him."
While some fans might be worried that Tommy is going to turn his back on the grime, corruption, and brutality of gangland Birmingham in favour of his new position in the House of Commons, Knight said that there's no reason to worry.
"Episode one begins with the crash and the Shelby Company have invested a lot of money in legitimate shares and stocks but that gets wiped out. When that happens, one begins to question how different is legitimate to illegitimate. They played casino of Wall Street and lost everything. They fall back on the illegitimate means of income.
"Tommy’s an MP for Birmingham and he blurs the line between the respect a Godfather would have in his home turf with that of an MP, so he’s doubly-enfranchised. He’s doubly-powerful and yet at the same time, in other series, he has always faced a nemesis and in this one he has some powerful enemies but his biggest enemy is himself. He’s struggling."
In terms of the plot, we're told that the new season will be set in the aftermath of the Wall Street Crash where "opportunity and misfortune are everywhere. When Tommy Shelby MP (Cillian Murphy) is approached by a charismatic politician with a bold vision for Britain, he realises that his response will affect not just his family's future but that of the entire nation."
Who is this charismatic politician?
Well, Knight confirmed that Sam Claflin will be playing Oswald Mosley, a British politician who rose to fame in the 1920s as a Member of Parliament and later in the 1930s became leader of the British Union of Fascists (BUF).
The BUF were protectionist, strongly anti-communist and nationalistic to the point of advocating authoritarianism.
Knight warned that while certain elements of Tommy's personality will change in Season 5, he'll still need to rely on that cunning, drive, and intelligence that we all love so much, especially since the threat of Mosley is now in play.
"He’s (Tommy) different and he’s the same. He certainly doesn’t step away from the grime and dirty side of being Tommy Shelby. If anything, because he’s having his own problems himself, he’s sort of becoming quite reckless, so he’s prepared to take risks and entertain danger. He’s stepping into the House of Commons and he’s a Labour MP at the same time that Oswald Mosley was a Labour MP. So he rubs up against the person that would ultimately become the leader of the British Union of Facists."
With just than two weeks to go until the first episode of Season 5 airs, Knight is optimistic that fans will not be disappointed. In fact, he reaffirmed his long-held belief that the new season is the "strongest one so far."
"I don’t think this strays into overconfidence. Series 5 is by far the strongest so far because we’ve got a brilliant director, brilliant actors, and the scripts are as good as they’ve ever been. It just means that you’re not having to fight against anything. You haven’t got words that are ringing in you ears like ‘you should do this, or that’. Five is the best, it really is. It’s going to be so good. I can’t wait for people to see it."
JOE will have plenty more Peaky Blinders coverage over the next few weeks with exclusive interviews from the likes of Cillian Murphy, Sam Claflin, Aidan Gillen, and even more from Steven Knight.