Peaky Blinders Premiers in Birmingham

Peaky Blinders cast members - Images by Chris Egan

Peaky Blinders cast members – Images by Chris Egan

Glitzy red carpet film premiers tend to be more often associated with Hollywood and London rather than Birmingham – but the Second City was the centre of the action when the opening episode of the second series of Peaky Blinders enjoyed its world premiere.

The Cineworld cinema in Broad Street was the setting for the premiere, an event which saw Irish heartthrob actor Cillian Murphy and other members of the cast of the BBC2 drama series turn out in force.

They were joined by writers and production staff on the drama, a fictional focus on the infamous Peaky Blinders gang who ruled the roost in the Small Heath area of Birmingham in the early part of the 20th century.

Also present were specially invited guests and members of the public who were lucky enough to win tickets for the event.

Cillian Murphy, who plays Tommy Shelby, the head the crime family in the fictional series, was joined by Helen McCrory (Aunty Polly) and Joe Cole (John Shelby) and the show’s creator and writer Steven Knight.

Another star present was Edge of Tomorrow star Charlotte Riley, who plays Tommy Shelby’s love interest in the new series.

The new series, which sees the action shift from London to Birmingham in the opening episode, will also star Tom Hardy, though he was unable to make the Birmingham premiere.

Fans of the show might have been surprised to hear Cillian Murphy’s Irish brogue when he conducted impromptu interviews on the red carpet, as he has developed a convincing Birmingham accent for his role.

The Cork-born actor said: “It’s great to be here, I didn’t expect this sort of turnout, it’s overwhelming.”

Speaking about the new series, he added: “I hope people enjoy it. Steven has very much expanded the empire of it – the world of it.

“It gets bigger, it gets darker but all those characters are still there and recognisable.”

Famed for his role as The Scarecrow in three Batman blockbusters – Batman Begins, the Dark Knight and the Dark Knight Rises – as well as starring in Ken Loach’s The Wind that Shakes the Barley, Cillian said he wasn’t tempted to use his Brummie accent in front of a Birmingham crowd.

“Not with you guys here, there’s too much pressure,” he said, adding that Peaky Blinders was “a once in a lifetime chance that had to be taken up”.

At the premiere Steven Knight talked of making series three, four and five up to the Second World War.

He also said he hoped to help to create a sound stage in the city where more dramas could be made.

The Peaky Blinders proved a hit for the BBC and has been shown in many different countries.

It has also helped put Birmingham on the international map, with viewers gripped by the goings-on which centre on the famed Garrison pub in Small Heath.

In Steven Knight’s fictional take on the Peaky Blinders the drama has a strong Irish undercurrent. The Shelby family have Irish roots and the first series saw the gang up against IRA members keen to get their hands on a cache of guns they had stolen from Birmingham’s BSA factory, while a tough Northern Irish policeman played by Sam Neill was also trying to trace them.

Speaking about the success of the show its American producer Caryn Mandabach said: “Being a producer is a lesson in getting lucky and being prepared to get lucky – with this series, I am lucky.

“I’m from Chicago but I’m also now a Brummie… because the Second City rules.

“We’re all part of Tommy’s gang now. We’re all Peaky Blinders.”

The second series of Peaky Blinders started this week on BBC Two on Thursday October 2.