TV boxset of the week: Peaky Blinders

Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders. Picture: YouTube
Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders. Picture: YouTube
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A WEEKLY guide to the best TV boxset available to stream right now, beginning with the BBC series Peaky Blinders

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Set in post-First World War Birmingham, Peaky Blinders follows a band of local street gangsters led by Tommy Shelby, played by a taciturn Cillian Murphy, who operates beneath the law and against rival gangs across the country. The show has some historical context: the peaky blinders was a general term for a violent youth subculture in the early 1900s – named after their apparent fondness for hiding switchblades in the peaks of their flatcaps – whose prevalence and notoriety saw them deemed a national threat.

WHO’S IN IT?

If there’s one aspect putting this show above other “gangster family” dramas, it’s the star turn by Murphy. A brooding lead, he’s impeccably dressed and sporting the finest faux West Midlands twang since Richard Beckinsale in Porridge. Sam Neill’s take on the Northern Irish police officer Chief Inspector Chester Campbell radiates with menace. The second series boasts the acting chops of Tom Hardy as Camden gangster Alfie Solomons. Say no more.

IS IT WORTH WATCHING?

It’s a truly British heir to HBO series Boardwalk Empire, taking enough of the former’s grit while still building an original story around the unique cultural identity of the West Midlands in the early twentieth century. It’s surprisingly polished, terrifically acted, and pulls no punches.

WHERE CAN I WATCH IT?

The first series is currently available on Netflix with the second expected soon. The third installment of the rise of the Birmingham gang is due at the end of this year.