Cillian Murphy on Peaky Blinders series three and why it’s crucial to support the BBC

"Paying our licence fee gives the viewer more power over what the BBC puts out... And giving the BBC freedom from advertising and keeping it as independent as it can be is a good thing"

Actor Cillian Murphy on what’s in store for his character Tommy in Peaky Blinders and why he was “chuffed” about narrating the BBC’s new natural history series Atlantic…

What TV do you enjoy?

I’m not a big TV watcher but I do like BBC4 for all their music documentaries and their tremendous archive footage. I used to be a fan of MasterChef but I haven’t watched it recently. I like the idea that an ordinary person off the street could be running a restaurant as a result of it.

Do you have a guilty pleasure?

I love Dragons’ Den! I find it unbelievably bizarre, but really compelling. All these imposing men and women sitting around with piles of cash, destroying people’s dreams, with this ominous music in this bizarre warehouse.

What TV do you turn off? 

I can’t watch anything during the daytime. Sometimes you’re sitting in a trailer during the day waiting to be called and if you turn on the television, you get sucked into a vortex of despair. I can’t watch television until the watershed. 

What book is on your bedside table?

I’ve just finished Satin Island by Tom McCarthy. I really loved it. 

What do you do to relax?

I like reading, listening to music and playing guitar, and just being with my kids. And I like running. I’ve run a couple of half-marathons. I’m not sure whether to do a full marathon. I worry about banjaxing my knees, and I’m worried I’ve left it too late. It’s only a year until I’m 40. But we’ll see. 

You’ve narrated the BBC’s natural history series, Atlantic. Why were you drawn to it?

I’m really proud of the series. I’ve always loved the BBC’s nature programmes. You wonder if there’s much left to learn, but actually a lot of the Atlantic wildlife hasn’t been shot. There is some amazing footage, which I think people will be intrigued by. I have two young boys and they adore all these sorts of programmes. I was very chuffed to be asked to do this, not least because it’ll be the first programme of mine they can actually watch! 

Programmes like this and your drama Peaky Blinders have been cited as a reason to keep the BBC licence fee. Do you support the campaign?

Paying our licence fee gives the viewer more power over what the BBC puts out. We are invested in the stations and that’s a good way to be. And giving the BBC freedom from advertising and keeping it as independent as it can be is a good thing. 

Series three airs in the autumn – will you do more after that?

I’m filming the fourth in September, which is set in the mid to late 1920s, and I know after that [writer and creator] Steve Knight is keen for [Cillian’s character] Tommy to be seen as the first air-raid sirens go off for the Second World War. I would embrace that, as long as the writing stayed strong. What is changing on this side of the Pond is that we’re being given time to let characters evolve over four or five series, which wasn’t always the case before. We’re in a golden time for television. 

Atlantic: the Wildest Ocean on Earth is on Thursday at 9pm on BBC2 

Cillian Murphy will talk Peaky Blinders with series creator Steven Knight at Radio Times Festival

Tickets for the Radio Times Festival are available from the official website (click here or on the banner below for details). The festival runs 24-27th September on The Green at Hampton Court Palace.