Series five of Peaky Blinders features plenty of familiar faces as the Shelbys return for more – with Cillian Murphy leading this massive ensemble cast.
But there are some exciting new actors and characters coming our way in the next chapter of Peaky Blinders.
- When is Peaky Blinders back on TV?
- Peaky Blinders spoiler-free series 5 review: Is this the “best so far”?
- Peaky Blinders creator says series 5 Oswald Mosley storyline is “chilling” – and will remind us of “consequences”
Here’s what you need to know about the cast and characters of series five…
Cillian Murphy plays Tommy Shelby
Who is Tommy Shelby? Tommy – who has now racked up the title Thomas Shelby OBE DCM MM MP thanks to his war record, business interests and political position – is the leader of the Peaky Blinders. He served in the war and was decorated for bravery, reaching the rank of Sergeant Major. But by the time he returned to Birmingham, he was disillusioned and psychologically scarred by his wartime experiences.
Tommy has been determined to make his family’s fortune and fight his way up in the world, taking on rival criminal gangs and profiting from business (legal and illegal), gambling, horse racing, and local factories. He is now a Labour MP as part of a deal with the authorities to infiltrate the communist movement from within, but it is not clear where his loyalties ultimately lie.
Tommy has a son with his late wife Grace, and a daughter with Lizzie.
What else has Cillian Murphy been in? The Irish actor has starred in movies including 28 Days Later, Cold Mountain, Red Eye, and Breakfast on Pluto, as well as The Edge of Love, Inception, Dunkirk, and The Dark Knight Rises.
Helen McCrory plays Polly Gray
Who is Polly Gray? Aunt Polly is the matriarch of the family and is one of the smartest of the Shelby family. She is a certified accountant and company treasurer of Shelby Company Limited, and managed the Peaky Blinders while her nephews were away during the Great War. Since their return, she has worked with Tommy (not always peacefully) to protect the gang’s business and the family’s safety.
She is a widow, with one surviving son (Michael) who she is keen to keep out of trouble. Polly embraces her gypsy roots and has certain fortune-telling and spiritual powers.
What else has Helen McCrory been in? Helen McCrory has a ton of high-profile performances to her name. She played Narcissa Malfoy in Harry Potter, Cherie Blair in The Queen, and starred in Anna Karenina in the title role. You may recently have seen her as Kathryn in MotherFatherSon, or as Emma Banville in Fearless; she has also appeared in Penny Dreadful, Doctor Who, and Skyfall.
Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby
Who is Arthur Shelby? While Arthur is the eldest of the Shelby siblings, he is not the leader of the Peaky Blinders – leaving that role to his younger brother Tommy, who is the brains of the operation. However, Tommy makes sure to keep Arthur as his right-hand man, even if he sometimes upsets Arthur by making decisions without his advice or input. By series four he was officially the Deputy Vice President of Shelby Company Limited, and he also owns the Garrison pub.
Arthur fought in France with his brother Thomas, an experience which has left him with deep psychological scars and trauma. He struggles to control his violent rage while fighting, and is also a heavy drinker addicted to cocaine. Arthur is married to Linda and has one child, Billy Shelby.
What else has Paul Anderson been in? On the big screen, Paul Anderson has appeared in The Revenant, Robin Hood, Brimstone, and Legend. His first TV appearance came in Doctor Who’s 2005 festive episode The Christmas Invasion, in which he played Jason.
Sophie Rundle plays Ada Thorne
Who is Ada Thorne? Originally born Ada Shelby, she became pregnant and married local Communist Freddie Thorne in series one – giving birth to a son they named Karl (after Karl Marx) – although Freddie died and left her a widow. Ada was once a passionate communist and sought to distance herself from the Shelby family, but she has since come back into the family fold. She handled the Shelby Company’s legitimate business in America, and later returned to Birmingham in time for series four’s war with New York Mafia boss Luca Changretta.
What else has Sophie Rundle been in? Most recently, Sophie Rundle co-starred with Suranne Jones in Gentleman Jack. She played Vicky Budd in the TV series Bodyguard – the estranged wife of Richard Madden’s David Budd – and has also appeared in Jamestown, Brief Encounters, Dickensian, and The Bletchley Circle.
Finn Cole plays Michael Gray
Who is Michael Gray? Polly’s son. In series two, we found out that Polly had a son and daughter who were taken from her by the local authorities; she had never seen them again, and had no idea where they were. Tommy pulled some strings and found out that, while the daughter Anna Gray had died, her son Michael had been placed in foster care and then adopted by a family – being given the name Henry Johnson.
Tommy made contact, and soon afterwards Michael (aged 17) turned up on Polly’s doorstep in Birmingham. He was determined to stay with his biological mum and his cousins, and keen to join the family business – arguing his way into the job of accountant, despite Polly’s misgivings. Michael handles the legitimate business of Shelby Company Limited, but has also embraced the violent side of his family. In series four he was shot and seriously injured by the mafia and confined to hospital, before being sent off to work in America.
What else has Finn Cole been in? He plays Joshua “J” Cody in the American TV series Animal Kingdom. Other credits include Slaughterhouse Rulez, Lewis, and An Inspector Rules.
Finn Cole is actually the younger brother of Joe Cole, who played his on-screen cousin – the late John Shelby.
Kate Phillips plays Linda Shelby
Who is Linda Shelby? Wife of Arthur Shelby. She was introduced as an extremely devout Quaker, who had married Arthur and introduced him to God and set him on the straight and narrow. Since she arrived on the scene in series three, Linda has relaxed her religious morals a little – swearing, taking money from gamblers and even using cocaine like her husband – but she still disapproves of Tommy and the family business. Linda is a formidable figure who is keen to keep Arthur under control.
What else has Kate Phillips been in? Memorably, Kate Phillips played Churchill’s ill-fated secretary Venetia Scott in season one of The Crown. Other notable roles include Jane Seymour in Wolf Hall, Lise Bolkonskaya in War & Peace, and Tillie Zeigler in My Mother and Other Strangers. She is also set to star in the upcoming Downton Abbey movie.
Harry Kirton plays Finn Shelby
Who is Finn Shelby? The youngest of the Shelby siblings. Unlike his three older brothers, he did not fight in the war as he was not old enough; but now he has hit adulthood and is living the life of a Peaky Blinder.
What else has Harry Kirton been in? The young actor made his TV debut in Peaky Blinders back in 2014, replacing original child actor Alfie Evans-Meese.
Natasha O’Keeffe plays Lizzie Shelby
Who is Lizzie Shelby? Until recently we knew her as Lizzie Stark. When Lizzie originally appeared in series one, she was working as a prostitute – and, for a short time, was engaged to John Shelby. But when Tommy Shelby exposed Lizzie for still working as a prostitute (admitting to being a regular customer himself) John called off the engagement.
Despite this, Lizzie continued sleeping with Tommy for money – and after she took a correspondence course, he hired her as a secretary (later using her as bait and leaving her to get raped). Lizzie rose up in the ranks of the Shelby Company Limited, and in series four became pregnant with Tommy’s child. She gave birth to a daughter called Ruby, and Lizzie is now officially a Shelby.
What else has Natasha O’Keeffe been in? The actress kicked off her TV career by playing Sadie in Lip Service and Abbey Smith in Misfits. Since then she has appeared as Kirsty in The Last Panthers, Fedora in Jekyll & Hyde, and Charlotte Campbell in Strike.
Sam Claflin plays Oswald Mosley
Who is Oswald Mosley? This a notorious real-life figure led the British Union of Fascists from the early 1930s as fascism gained ground in Britain and across Europe. In 1929, when series five begins, he was an MP making waves at Parliament.
- Peaky Blinders creator says series 5 Oswald Mosley storyline is “chilling” – and will remind us of “consequences”
What else has Sam Claflin been in? The actor starred as Finnick Odair in The Hunger Games, and has also played Philip Swift in Pirates of the Caribbean. He starred alongside Emilia Clarke in in Me Before You.
Cosmo Jarvis plays Barney
Who is Barney? A Great War veteran who fought alongside the Shelby brothers. He was an extremely talented sniper, but since returning home to Birmingham he has been locked up in an insane asylum. Now Tommy has got him out.
What else has Cosmo Jarvis been in? Critically-acclaimed 2016 movie Lady Macbeth gave Cosmo Jarvis his breakout role, after he starred as Sebastian. Since then he has appeared in Vera and My Mother and Other Strangers, and has been cast in Raised by Wolves.
Kingsley Ben-Adir plays Colonel Ben Younger
Who is Colonel Ben Younger? Col Ben Younger made a brief appearance in the penultimate episode of series four, but from the casting announcement we know he’ll be back for series five. Ben was in charge of the army intelligence officers who arrested Ada Thorne over her communist past, but he was revealed to have connections with Tommy. In season five, he’s in a relationship with Ada and is the father of her unborn child.
What else has Kingsley Ben-Adir been in? The actor is best-known for starring as Dr Marcus Summer in the TV series Vera. Recently he played Khalid Walker in Deep State, and Karim Washington in The OA.
Packy Lee plays Johnny Dogs
Who is Johnny Dogs? A friend of Thomas Shelby. He is a gypsy and has close ties with both the Lee Family and the Shelby Family.
What else has Packy Lee been in? Previous roles have included Teeth in the TV series Clean Break, Sears in The Frankenstein Chronicles, and Drew Johnstone Jnr in Murphy’s Law.
Andrew Koji plays Brilliant Chang
Who is Brilliant Chang? Arriving on our screens for the first time in season five, Brilliant Chang is a Chinese businessman and drug dealer who has a proposition for Tommy. (In real life, there was actually a man named Brilliant Chang who was considered the ‘Dope King’ of London.)
What else has Andrew Koji been in? Andrew Koji recently starred in the TV series Warrior, and has made appearances in Call the Midwife, The Innocents, and season two of American Gods.
Ned Dennehy plays Uncle Charlie Strong
Who is Charlie Strong? Uncle of the Shelby siblings on their mother’s side. He owns a yard, where he handles the Shelby Company Limited’s goods.
What else has Ned Dennehy been in? The actor made a memorably sinister appearance in Good Omens as Hastur, Duke of Hell. He played Ebeneezer Scrooge in Dickensian, Father Etienne in Versailles, and Carl McKenna in Broken. Ned Dennehy is soon to star as Cooper in the TV series Dublin Murders.
Ian Peck plays Curley
Who is Curley? A stable boy and ferryman, who works in Curley’s yard. He is a gifted horseman and has an affinity for animals. It’s not quite clear if (or how) he is related to the Shelby family, but Tommy introduced him to Jessie Eden with the words: “This is Curley, my… whatever Curley is.”
What else has Ian Peck been in? The actor is set for a starring role in His Dark Materials, playing Cardinal Sturrock. He’s popped up in a bunch of TV series including Silent Witness, Coronation Street and Midsomer Murders – and on the big screen, he played a Death Eater in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Neil Maskell plays Winston Churchill
Who is Winston Churchill? We’ve met Winston Churchill several times before in Peaky Blinders: in series one he was played by Andy Nyman, and in series two by Richard McCabe. Now Neil Maskell has been cast in the role for series five.
In real life, Churchill was a British politician who went on to become Prime Minister in 1940 and lead the country through the Second World War, returning to power again in the 1950s. He first became an MP back in 1900 and was an important figure in several governments, but by the 1930s he was on the back-foot politically – until his return to power in the run-up to war.
In the world of Peaky Blinders, it was Churchill who sent Chief Inspector Chester Campbell (Sam Neill) to clean up Birmingham and find the stolen military guns. Churchill later allowed Campbell to recruit Tommy Shelby to carry out assassinations and secret operations on behalf of the Crown. By 1929, he has spent a decade watching Tommy Shelby’s career from afar – but now Tommy is a fellow MP in the House of Commons, will their paths cross?
What else has Neil Maskell been in? Recent credits have included Cleaning Up (as Warren) and No Offence (as Dennis Caddy), as well as the TV series Humans (as DI Pete Drummond).
Charlie Murphy plays Jessie Eden
Who is Jessie Eden? We were first introduced to Jessie Eden as the female shop steward at the Lucas factory in Sparkhill, who was set to bring all the female workers out on strike. The character is actually based on the real-life union activist of the same name.
What else has Charlie Murphy been in? Charlie Murphy has starred in Happy Valley since episode one, playing Ann Gallagher. Other roles have included Anne Brontë in Walk Invisible: The Brontë Sisters, Queen Iseult in The Last Kingdom, and Siobhan in Love/Hate.
Benjamin Zephaniah plays Jeremiah Jesus
Who is Jeremiah Jesus? An Afro-Caribbean street preacher. He is a friend of Tommy’s, and fought alongside the Shelbys in the Great War.
What else has Benjamin Zephaniah been in? Better known as a poet and writer, Benjamin Zephaniah made a handful of acting appearances in the 1990s – in The Bill, Crucial Tales, and Farendj. You’re more likely to have seen him appearing in documentaries or on talk shows like Question Time and The One Show.
Aidan Gillen plays Aberama Gold
Who is Aberama Gold? A gypsy leader. He has a reputation for savage violence, but in series four he became useful to Tommy as an assassin-for-hire. He also attracted the attentions of Polly, who decided to seduce him in series four.
What else has Aidan Gillen been in? Game of Thrones fans will recognise Aidan Gillen as Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish. He has also appeared in Bohemian Rhapsody (as John Reid), Love/Hate, Queer as Folk, and The Wire.
Jack Rowan plays Bonnie Gold
Who is Bonnie Gold? Son of gypsy leader Aberama Gold. He has grand ambitions, and – with the support of his father – wants to become a professional boxer. Luckily for him, Bonnie is extremely talented in the ring, having inherited his dad’s strength and his mother’s temper.
What else has Jack Rowan been in? Credits include Born to Kill, Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands, and Silent Witness. The young actor will soon co-star in Noughts & Crosses, playing Callum in this adaptation of Malorie Blackman’s groundbreaking novel.
Emmett J Scanlan plays Billy Grade
Who is Billy Grade? Billy used to be a professional footballer, but now he sings (badly) for a living – a job he loves. However, as the BBC teases, “all that will change when the Peaky Blinders make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
What else has Emmett J Scanlan been in? The actor is best-known for playing Brendan Brady in Hollyoaks, a role he left in 2013. Since then he has appeared in Atlantis (as Delmos) and In the Flesh (as Simon Monroe). He played Glen Martin in The Fall, Josh Mason in Safe, Stephen in Butterfly, Kieran in Women on the Verge, and Lobo in Krypton.
Daryl McCormack plays Isiah Jesus
Who is Isiah Jesus? Son of Jeremiah Jesus, a street preacher who served alongside Tommy and the Shelby brothers in the war. Isiah may not be a Shelby, but he is a Peaky Blinder – hanging out with the younger members of the gang, like Michael and Finn.
This role was previously played by Jordan Bolger in seasons two to four, but the young actor has since left the show – instead starring in US series The 100 and in BBC drama The Long Song.
What else has Daryl McCormack been in? The young actor has appeared in Cleaning Up (as Ryan) and A Very English Scandal (as Luke Mackenzie). He played Pierce Devlin in Irish soap opera Fair City.
Anya Taylor-Joy plays Gina Gray
Who is Gina Gray? Michael Gray’s new wife, who he met in America. They married on the ship back from New York, and her arrival in Birmingham has been a little rocky.
What else has Anya Taylor-Joy been in? At Christmas 2017, Anya Taylor-Joy starred as Petronella Brandt in The Miniaturist. She had previously starred in The Witch and the TV series Atlantis, and will soon voice the character Brea in Netflix’s The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.
Brian Gleeson plays Jimmy McCavern
Who is Jimmy McCavern? A senior member of the Billy Boys, a Protestant street gang from Glasgow. The Billy Boys would like to claim a slice of Tommy Shelby’s empire.
What else has Brian Gleeson been in? Irish actor Brian Gleeson (brother of The Revenant’s Domhnall Gleeson and son of Harry Potter star Brian Gleeson) has recently appeared in The Bisexual, Resistance, Hellboy, Phantom Thread, and Taken Down.
Elliot Cowan plays journalist Michael Levitt
Who is Michael Levitt playing? Mr Levitt, a journalist from the London Times sent to interview Birmingham’s up-and-coming MP Tommy Shelby, turns out to be the very same journalist who Tommy summoned in series one to cover his bonfire of the king’s portraits. He makes a brief (but memorable!) comeback in the opening episode of series five.
What else has Elliot Cowan been in? The actor starred as Mr Darcy in the movie Lost in Austen, as Lorenzo de’Medici in Da Vinci’s Demons, as King Henry Tudor in The Spanish Princess, and as Daron-Vex in Krypton. He also played the role of Tom Wilson in ITV drama Innocent.
Charlene McKenna plays Captain Swing
Who is Captain Swing? An IRA leader who takes Michael captive on his way home from Boston to Birmingham, claiming he was betraying the Peaky Blinders by colluding with the Billy Boys. She hopes Tommy Shelby MP might make a useful friend.
What else has Charlene McKenna been in? Ripper Street actress Charlene McKenna starred as Rose Erskine. Since then she has appeared as Mercy Boyle in Death and Nightingales.
Kate Dickie plays Mother Superior
Who is Mother Superior? We’ve yet to meet this character, but we’re definitely intrigued about what role she’ll play in the series.
What else has Kate Dickie been in? Katie Dickie starred alongside Jenna Coleman in TV drama The Cry, playing Morven Davis. She played Lysa Arryn in Game of Thrones, and made a brief appearance in Star Wars: The Last Jedi as Hux’s First Order Monitor.