It’s been a couple of years since we last saw the Shelby family, and we’re desperate to find out what the Peaky Blinders have been up to since series four – and what’s coming next in series five.
Luckily, the cast of Peaky Blinders were on hand at the BBC drama’s launch event to give us a taster of what to expect.
Here’s what they told us…
Cillian Murphy – Tommy Shelby
Tommy Shelby is now a Labour MP, navigating the world of Westminster – where he meets Oswald Mosley MP, future leader of the British Union of Fascists.
As series creator Steven Knight tells us, series five is “a fork in the road for a lot of characters, especially Tommy. And he has to make a decision, and if you put it most simplistically between good and bad: is he going to do the right thing or not? So that’s the main thing.
“Members of the family, but especially Tommy, are being confronted with things that are so huge and potentially damaging that they have to decide whose side they’re on.”
At the moment Tommy Shelby MP is on a mission on behalf of the authorities, working to infiltrate the communist movement. But Knight says his motives and loyalties may change.
“At the moment everything is all personal gain. But what I want to do is pull off the trick that gradually, the lies he tells become true,” Knight explains. “And already he’s doing charity, he’s opening charitable institutions. And eventually that’s what he wants to do, do you know what I mean? So the fiction becomes real as he matures.”
Tommy will also feel the fallout of the 1929 Wall Street Crash, which puts huge pressure on his business empire (legal and illegal). It also adds pressure to his mental state, which has been deeply damaged since the Great War.
“It’s a lot about what’s going on in his head and where he’s at, and this is part of that business of coming alive again. He’s having to deal with a lot of stuff,” Knight says.
Helen McCrory – Polly Gray
“It starts with the crash and they lose a lot of money very, very quickly,” Helen McCrory says, revealing what’s on the cards for Polly. “And she’s back in the ring, and she’s back on the streets – not literally, but you see her right at the beginning enjoying all the luxuries, and then you see her very, very quickly realising she doesn’t have any left. So that’s where Polly is starting from in this series.”
While Polly was absolutely furious at Tommy at the start of series four, the patriarch and matriarch of the Shelby Company Limited are now back to working together.
McCrory explains: “She’ll always be on his side. But for the first time in this series, the son [Michael] and Tommy become much more divided, so she’s in the middle.”
Sophie Rundle – Ada Thorne
Ada Thorne used to be the most political of the Shelby siblings, embracing communism after falling in love with Freddie Thorne (RIP). But now it is Tommy who is a Labour MP.
“Politics has always been Ada’s thing and she’s got very strong political convictions that she’s had to abandon, in a way, to sit side by side and embrace her family,” Sophie Rundle says. “And now that Tommy’s taken a step into politics, that role has sort of [been] brought back to her. It’s that frustrating thing that your older brother gets to do the thing that you want to do.”
She adds: “Watching Tommy do that, she does still have an interest in [politics], and I think she does become his confidant and ally. I think that they’re the two most intellectual. I think that Ada’s really intelligent, as is Tommy, and I think that kinds of bonds them.
“I think this series is a lot about, you know when you grow up with your siblings and take it for granted that you are family, and then you have to re-navigate what that dynamic and what that relationship is like as two adults. So, who are these grown-ups? I think this is about Tommy and Ada finding this mutual understanding.”
And asked if there’s a love interest for Ada in series five, Rundle replied with one word: “Maybe…”
Paul Anderson – Arthur Shelby
The eldest of the Shelby brothers has had a rough ride – and it shows no sign of stopping.
Arthur Shelby has struggled with drink, drugs and attempted suicide. But asked what we can expect for Arthur in series five, writer Steven Knight says: “More of the same. He gets no rest.”
He adds: “He goes through a lot in this series, as you’ll see.”
Natasha O’Keeffe – Lizzie Shelby
Lizzie Stark is now Lizzie Shelby, with a daughter (Ruby) and a stepson (Charles) and a husband, Tommy Shelby MP.
“She is one of the Shelbys now, and she has a child with Tommy,” Natasha O’Keeffe says. “I mean, she’s growing from force to force, being a politician’s wife.”
Their relationship isn’t always easy, but as the actress says: “She’s somewhat of an angel behind Tommy at this stage. She’s been the loyal one that’s keeping Tommy grounded. She wants him to do well in life.”
But Lizzie’s past as a sex worker may be hard to escape now Tommy is in the public eye.
“I think Lizzie knows where she’s come from, and where she’s got to now and she knows that in a click she could be back there,” O’Keeffe says. “She’s not daft, she wants to support Tommy and be there for him. There’s a realisation of where she’s come up from. But yeah there is kind of a plot in this series where there’s some mind play, and it kind of does come up somewhat… but I’m giving away too much!”
Finn Cole – Michael Gray
At the end of series four, Tommy sent (or banished) Michael to America – and that’s where he is in 1929.
“At the beginning of season five, he’s in Detroit right round the stock market crash,” actor Finn Cole tells us. “And he comes back to Birmingham in order to help fix things and help sort out the family.”
From the trailer, it also looks like he may have a new love interest – played by Anya Taylor-Joy.
Harry Kirton – Finn Shelby
When we first met Tommy Shelby’s youngest brother Finn, he was just a little boy – playing around in the family car and almost getting himself blown up by a booby-trapped car door. But now he’s a young adult and is embracing the life of a Peaky Blinder.
“He’s enjoying the drugs, the snow, the whisky, the girls, the violence,” Harry Kirton says.
In series four, Finn confessed that he didn’t want to pay women for sex – and at one point, he wasn’t sure he could pull the trigger on a gun and kill a stranger. But he has now overcome those qualms and followed in his brothers’ footsteps.
“In the, two, three years that’s gone by he’s earned some scars – scars on the inside and the outside,” Kirton tells us. “And he has definitely flipped the script as it were on what he said before. Things change you, death changes you, opportunities change you.”
While the Shelbys did try to keep Finn away from serious danger, he is now keen to prove himself and “see what’s on the other side of the bubble that’s been provided by his brothers,” the actor explains. So series four “definitely provides Finn with opportunities to express his Shelby violent blood that so eagerly wants to come out, but foolishly leads him into circumstances… he’s too big for his boots.”
Peaky Blinders series five will premiere on BBC1 on Sunday 25th August at 9pm