Peaky Blinders series three spoiler-free preview: Cillian Murphy returns in a “dazzling” first episode

Tommy Shelby is back, but not as you know him...

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“This is my ****ing wedding day, “ thunders Tommy Shelby at the start of series three. “No sucking petrol out of the ******g cars,” he roars, adding for good measure that his men must not fight or gamble or ride horses on this most important of occasions.

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But Tommy getting married?

Even our favourite 1920s Brummie gangster has a sentimental side, it seems. But not for long.

That’s because there’s a guest, a Russian, who may not be quite who he claims. Tommy needs to get to the bottom of it if his new alliances with shadowy forces trying to fight the Bolsheviks is going to work. One thing’s for sure: he’s not exactly got what it takes to be a model husband.

Of course, one of the surprising things about the return to Shelbyville is the location, a manor house in Warwickshire which he has bought with his filthy (surely hard-earned?) lucre and which is the location of the wedding to… well I won’t say who.

It’s cleverly revealed early on who has taken his heart, two years after we last saw him escaping an execution at the end of series two. So they have a plush new pad where the Shelbys rub shoulder with various poshos.

Inevitably fists fly: such is the the way in a series where violence seems to be the only way its protagonists have of expressing emotion.

But there is also some light relief in the form of a hideously vulgar picture Tommy has commissioned of himself, which as Cillian Murphy says, looks “very Michael Jackson, very Don Corleone”.

Romance – and the conflict between their hearts and their commitment to duty – is also in the air for other characters.

Arthur finds himself wrestling with his romantic feelings. And could wedding bells be sounding for Helen McCrory’s flinty and fabulously-realised gangster matriarch Aunt Polly (pictured)?

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Speaking before the series, McCrory suggested that possible romance in a new arty Bohemian milieux will allow her the longed-for escape from criminal drudgery to a world were she is accepted for who she is.

“However much you want to put on white gloves there is still the grim of Birmingham on your fingernails,” she added.

Probably top of the list of things liable to pull her back is her, shall we say, mixed feelings about Tommy’s new bride. Will her pre-eminence as the number one Peaky female be under threat?

Whatever the answer, it’s clear Tommy is as manic and compelling as ever and women are front and centre in this world. There’s also the same dazzling music (expect more Nick Cave AND some new tunes from Peaky super-fan David Bowie).

And there is a new villain, Father Hughes, played by Paddy Considine, who will emerge in episode two. Knight describes him as the “the most evil character I have ever written”, so that should be, er, interesting to say the least…

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Peaky Blinders returns to BBC2 on Thursday 5 May at 9pm