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Helen McCrory reveals the Peaky Blinders scene that was just too much for TV

Aunt Polly's original reaction when son Michael came home was very different in Peaky Blinders

Published: Friday, 9th August 2019 at 12:01 am

Remember that scene where a hungover Polly (Helen McCrory) stumbled home in her party outfit from the night before, only to find long-lost son Michael (Finn Cole) waiting on her doorstep?


If McCrory had her way, the reunion would have been a lot more stomach-turning – but the actress's first take was vetoed.

"The first time we actually did the shot – the BBC said 'absolutely no way!' the first time we did it," McCrory told press ahead of Peaky Blinders series five.

She explained: "You're working really, really quickly in Peaky Blinders, and we don't have an enormous budget. So you come to it, you light it, great, where are you going to stand, good, take one, take two, have we got it? – great, you move on.

"And we came to the scene and I hadn't even met the actor playing Michael – I mean, [we'd said] hello hello, very nice to meet you sort of thing. He came down, he stood and went 'duh duh duh,' and I came down looking like Janis Joplin or something from the party, and there's Michael and he goes, 'Hello, Mrs Polly Gray?'

"And the only thing you can do when you have no rehearsal as an actress, is you just leave yourself alone and see what happens. and whatever happens, it will be the truth. As long as you do it truthfully, otherwise the audience get bored, and just go, well you're acting, and they turn over and see what's on ITV.

"And as soon as he went 'hello Polly Gray,' I just went, bleurghhhhh."

Peaky Blinders - Michael

This fake-vomiting did not go down well.

"And they went like - 'Cut. That's really lovely. Could we do it without the vomiting though this time?'" McCrory recalled.

"And I just thought, well that's what I would do if somebody turned around to me and said, 'I'm here! I'm yours! And look at you now!'"

Instead, the episode ends with Polly, speechless, dropping her keys on the road.

As for Michael's arrival in Birmingham's Small Heath – a 17-year-old seeing his birth mother for the first time – McCrory joked: "It's quite a family to discover, particularly since he seems to have come from apple scrumping land of make-f***ing-believe or wherever... it'd be the equivalent of the boy leaning across as you're dancing on the pole and going, 'hello Mum.'"


Peaky Blinders series five will premiere on BBC1 on Sunday 25th August at 9pm 


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