Coming to BBC Two this autumn, Peaky Blinders is an epic, six-part gangster drama set in the lawless streets of post-war Birmingham on the cusp of the 1920s.
Britain in 1919 is a tumultuous mix of despair and hedonism, a nation cleaned out by the extravagances of the Great War. Returning soldiers, newly minted revolutionaries and criminal gangs all fight for survival in an industrial landscape gripped by economic upheaval.
Thomas Shelby and his family run the most feared and powerful local gang, the Peaky Blinders. Named for their practice of sewing razor blades into the peaks of their caps, they make money from illegal betting, protection and the black market. But Tommy’s ambitions go beyond running the streets, and when a crate of guns goes missing from an arms factory, he recognises an opportunity to move up in the world. Crime pays, but business pays better.
As rival gangs, Communist revolutionaries and IRA Fenians descend on Small Heath in pursuit of the weapons, Winston Churchill dispatches a ruthless police chief from Belfast to impose order on an increasingly lawless city and recover the guns.
Thursday 12 September 2013, 9pm
Birmingham, 1919. Thomas Shelby is a war veteran, and head of feared gang, the Peaky Blinders. Named for their practice of sewing razor blades into the peaks of their caps, they make money from illegal betting, protection and the black market.
When he comes into possession of a crate of guns from the local arms factory, Thomas sees an opportunity to increase the gang’s power and move up in the world. Meanwhile, tough Belfast copper Chief Inspector Campbell arrives in town, tasked with the recovery of the guns by none other than Winston Churchill. Will Thomas listen to the Peaky Blinders’ family matriarch, Aunt Polly, who instructs him to ditch the weapons rather than take on the police?
At the same time Thomas incurs the wrath of his older brother, Arthur, when he stages ‘the powder trick’: a magic spell which will encourage the locals to bet on a horse. It’s the first step in fixing a race, but Thomas did it without the permission of Billy Kimber, the kingpin who runs the racetracks.
Thomas’s younger sister Ada, meanwhile, is secretly having a relationship with his former best friend and the man who saved his life in the trenches, Freddie Thorne. Freddie is a Marxist, encouraging workers to strike over their recent cuts in pay.
Like Thomas and the Peaky Blinders, Freddie and the Communists are on Chief Inspector Campbell’s list of suspects: organisations he intends to decapitate in his ruthless search for the missing guns.
Thursday 19 September 2013, 9pm
At a country fair outside Birmingham, Thomas Shelby, leader of the Peaky Blinders, picks a violent fight with a gypsy family called the Lees. While Thomas and his brothers are away, Chief Inspector Campbell conducts a violent raid on the Peaky Blinders’ territory, leaving a message with family matriarch Aunt Polly that he wants to speak directly with Thomas.
Back in Birmingham, Thomas agrees to meet with Inspector Campbell, but preferring not to engage in talks while on the back foot, he determines to strike a blow back first. Meanwhile, he is sent a bullet with his name on it: the Lees have declared war on the Peaky Blinders.
Aunt Polly is alarmed to find out that Thomas’s sister Ada is pregnant. When Thomas discovers the news, he forces Ada to admit who the father is: his former best friend and war comrade, the communist agitator Freddie Thorne. Convinced that Freddie is with Ada for the wrong reasons, Thomas hatches a plan to get him out of town.
Grace, working as a barmaid at the Garrison pub, which the Shelbys frequent, starts to weave her way into Thomas’s affections.
Thursday 26 September 2013, 9pm
Thomas Shelby, leader of the Peaky Blinders, is paid a visit in the Garrison pub by two men who claim to be IRA Fenians. They’ve heard that Thomas has come into possession of the missing crate of guns, and they want to buy them for the cause.
Grace, who is still posing as a barmaid in the pub, overhears the conversation and decides to trail the IRA men herself.
Thomas’s sister Ada secretly marries the Communist agitator Freddie Thorne, by whom she is pregnant. Thomas has promised Campbell that Freddie will leave Birmingham as part of a deal in which Campbell will allow Thomas to expand his business. When it transpires that Freddie is still in town, Thomas’s Aunt Polly forges a plan to get him out.
Thomas takes Grace to the Cheltenham races, where he aims to persuade kingpin Billy Kimber to make the Peaky Blinders part of his operations. Thomas’s brother Arthur also sets out to Cheltenham, accompanied by other members of the gang. Their mission is to prevent rival mob family the Lees stealing from Kimber’s men at the racecourse.
Thursday 3 October 2013, 9pm
The Peaky Blinders’ conflict with rival gang the Lee family continues to escalate. When the Lees ransack the Shelbys’ betting shop, Thomas decides to pay them a visit himself.
Thomas’s brother John, a widower with four children running rings around him, reveals that he intends to remarry. His choice of bride, however, proves controversial with rest of the Shelby family.
Chief Inspector Campbell puts increased pressure on Thomas to deliver him Freddie Thorne and the crate of stolen guns. Meanwhile, Grace begins to glean more information about the Peaky Blinders’ illegal operations.
Billy Kimber, impressed with the protection offered to his business by the Peaky Blinders, gives Thomas the opportunity he has craved.
Thursday 10 October 2013, 9pm
With Inspector Campbell still on the search for the crate of stolen guns, Thomas Shelby’s life is complicated by the arrival in Small Heath of two individuals. One is the Shelbys’ errant father, who walked out on his family 10 years ago but claims to be a changed man.
The other is a gentleman from South Armagh who has heard about the guns, and knows that an IRA man recently met with an accident soon after drinking at the Garrison, the pub frequented by the Peaky Blinders.
Meanwhile, Grace makes a discovery that could change everything.
Thursday 17 October 2013, 9pm
It’s the day of the Worcester races – the day Thomas Shelby intends to finally become a racecourse kingpin himself.
Just as the Peaky Blinders are about to make their move, however, revelations come to light that threaten to obliterate their plans.
While Thomas scrambles to get ready for the battle of his life, Grace is faced with an impossible decision, and an enraged Inspector Campbell plays his final card.
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