TV Review: Return of the Peaky Blinders

The notorious Brummie gang are back on our screens for Series Three following a year of stateside success for the BBC2 show, which has A-List fan status from the likes of Steven Spielberg to Snoop Dogg.

Last season’s finale found us on tenterhooks as we left head of the Peaky Blinders, Tommy Shelby, after he narrowly missed assassination. A man who claimed to be working for Winston Churchill wants to call in a favour of the Shelby Brothers on behalf of his boss, and as such, saved him within an inch of his life. This saw the season finished with a stunned Tommy set with a renewed sense of vigour – even announcing he wanted a wedding. This series picks up two years on from that moment, and it seems that Churchill has at last called in that favour…

Tommy – played by Cillian Murphy and his impressive cheekbones – always gets what he wants and the season premiere focused on his wedding to the ex-spy turned lucky winner of Tommy’s heart, Grace, played by Annabelle Wallis. This was inevitable after the reunion of the couple in London in series two when it was revealed that Grace was pregnant with Tommy’s child.

It seems the Shelby’s have come into some serious money since we saw them last, and the gang find themselves celebrating the matrimony on Tommy’s Warwickshire estate, a far cry from the steel and smoke of Small Heath, Birmingham. What begins as a civilised affair soon swiftly turns to the chaos we expect of the violence prone brothers Tommy, Arthur and Jon. And, in what could potentially be a new arc for this series, is Aunty Polly’s estranged son Michael who recently joined the fold and who seems to have become quite comfortable in his flat cap since we saw him last.

Post wedding and back at Tommy’s estate, he gathers the gang to lay down some rules for the day; “No cocaine, no sport, no telling fortunes, no racing – and the main rule is no fighting”. It didn’t take long before all of these rules were broken, some by Tommy himself as ‘business’ reared its ugly head. The only thing more important than business to the Peaky Blinder’s is family as Shelby reminds his brother Alfred; ‘for them family is a weakness, for me it’s my strength’. But could this ironically be Tommy’s Achilles Heel this time round as with his newly established family, wife and child, he perhaps has more at stake than ever before. But, ever the unwaveringly confident criminal, he says to Aunt Polly, “I’ve always been a gambling man”.

Series One saw the Peaky Blinders face Sam Neil’s villanous Inspector Campbell and get caught up in trouble with the IRA. Series Two saw the brothers head to London and expand their empire only to be tangled in conflict with a Jewish gang in Camden Town, led by the unhinged Alfie Solomons played by Tom Hardy. From what we learn in this opening episode, it seems the threat this time around is coming from the east, Russia to be precise. With this new international aspect and Paddy Considine confirmed as a regular for this series, it looks to be as clever, well cast, gripping and explosive as seasons past.

Welcome back boys.

Catch Peaky Blinders every Thursday at 9pm on BBC2.

Words by Alice Westoby.

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