Steven Knight On The Origin And Themes Of Peaky Blinders

Peaky Blinders will return to BBC Two on Thursday 5th May. In the third series Tommy Shelby is pulled into the glamorous and dangerous world of international intrigue in 1920s Britain, putting his entire organisation and family at risk.

Steven Knight, Writer and Creator of Peaky Blinders, spoke to the BBC about its origins and the themes that drive the series forward:

“The inspiration was motivated by stories I was told by my parents who lived in Small Heath, Birmingham… My mum was a bookies’ runner at nine years old and my dad’s uncles were Peaky Blinders and gangsters. He told me lots of stories about how they looked, how they dressed and how people felt about them and how life was in those days, so I always felt this was a drama waiting to be told.”

“The themes that are prevalent are power, the abuse of power, and the effect that power has on Tommy and the family. It is also about how everyone is trying to escape where they are… It’s about aspiration and if you look at it sociologically, it’s about people from the working classes in England and can they ever – no matter how much money or material wealth they have accumulated – ever escape where they are from.”

“Opium was used… to alleviate acute pain and that seemed reflective of the tone of the first series. The second series was cocaine reflected by the wildness and the madness of the early 1920s… In the third series I think it is power and the effect that has on people; how they respond to it and how intoxicated they can become as a result of it.”

And the future for Peaky Blinders is…

“I want the family trajectory to continue upwards and for them to become wealthier and more powerful… I want to shine the light on the 1920s and hopefully the 1930s with this family. The only clear thought I have for series four, if there should be one, is to include the general strike of 1926.”