Last week saw the dramatic return of Peaky Blinders on BBC Two for a fourth series, a family gangster crime drama set in the 1920s in Birmingham, England. A tired script or tired acting were nowhere to be seen here because this truly was British television of the highest quality.
As the ending credits rolled, this dark drama about the goings-on of the Shelby family(starring the amazing Cillian Murphy as head of the family, Tommy Shelby), it felt like I had just watched a stylish Hollywood blockbuster. I sat there opened mouthed as two of the Shelby male protagonists were gunned down by visiting members of the Sicilian Mafia. I know this may sound like hyperbole, but if I can recall my actions correctly, then I think let out a gasp and then applauded as the credits rolled.
Lets talk about the unbelievably gripping start though. Picking up from the end of series three, we saw members of the Shelby family facing the gallows(Tommy not there due to the deal he did with the police). The tension beautifully built up and increased up to the point where they were almost hung, until Tommy saved the day and did a deal with the King for them to be saved(which also somewhat comically saw him being granted an OBE). Quite simply, it was the perfect dramatic start to a perfect drama. With this start in mind, then I knew the magnificent creator and writer Steven Knight, was going to have written us another masterpiece of a script.
With the Shelby family disbanded and now at war due to Tommy’s actions, we found them at Christmas time all receiving a letter from Luca Changretta(Adrien Brody). The significance here, being that this letter marked them for death in retribution for the murder of Angel and Vincente(Mafia family). This as a result forced the Shelby family together again and is what led to the jaw dropping ending.
Acting wise, the whole cast were fantastic as I expected. Again, they all delivered performances worthy of any Hollywood blockbuster. Cillian Murphy, in the lead role is an absolute exceptional talent. He has this great menacing but also warm, psychopathic of a presence about him that is both mesmerising and slightly unnerving to watch. Paul Anderson, as Arthur Shelby, Jr, gives a superb performance as a somewhat conflicted and reluctant gangster. Finally, Helen McCrory as Polly(the matriarch of the family), also needs a special mention for her fine performance. She was a woman here delirious and extremely traumatised from her horrifying experience of almost being hung months before.
The storylines were great, the sharp editing gave the drama added impact, and the music was tremendously emotive throughout. British television dramas do not get much better than this my friends. In my opinion it was a PB by Peaky Blinders……..A PERSONAL BEST! 5/5.