Are we ready for 'Peaky Blinders' to end?
As the show comes to a close tonight, Soho House catches up with Anthony Byrne to talk about TV’s most anticipated finale
Sunday 3 April 2022 By Soho House
That’s it. It’s time for us to doff our caps to Peaky Blinders. Well, sort of - there’s a Peaky film on the way. But tonight, in the UK, the popular gangster drama - which is now in its sixth series - comes to an end on the BBC.
Since it first aired in 2013, the show - which charts the rise of an Irish-Romani gangster family and their leader, Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) - has transformed from cultish TV show into a culture-warping global phenomenon, with gripping stories and characters that are taken directly from the pages of British history. Violent, stylish and packed with great haircuts, witty one-liners and as many standout performances as there are shots fired (and there’s a lot), we’re all beginning to wonder how we’ll cope without it in our lives.
Here, we sit down with director Anthony Byrne to talk about the show's enduring appeal and what we can expect from tonight’s finale. Brace yourselves, fans, you’re in for a good one.
That’s a wrap on Peaky Blinders. How does it feel to be done?
‘Bittersweet. Everybody needs a break, though. I think there’s a line in episode two of season six where Tommy says, ‘Now we Peaky Blinders rest’, and that’s what it felt like on Wednesday evening when we wrapped. It had been 10 long years, and the issues and themes that the show deals with are all quite dark, more so in this season. It’s been traumatic at times, and that seeps into you. It’s going to take some time to kind of process it all, and then I’ll really miss it. Maybe in a month or so.’
There has been so much buzz around this season and the finale. Are you feeling the pressure?
‘To be honest, not really. I’m just glad that the appetite and the anticipation is still there. The trailer got 12 million views on YouTube and 25 million across channels. It’s become a part of British culture, but it’s also a global phenomenon. It’s blown up around the world.’
Why do you think that is?
‘The show’s writer and creator Steve Knight created a new kind of mythology. He made a show with complicated antiheroes – one that uses elements of the supernatural and gypsy traditions, and culture. You would never think that a show about gangsters in Birmingham, which is set in the 1930s, would ever take off – but it did thanks to all of that. Knight has done a magnificent job. His writing is sublime. Plus, there’s that emphatic yet uniquely appealing sense of Britishness that’s become part of the show’s DNA. It has changed over the last 10 years, and some viewers have embraced the change, and some haven’t. That’s just the way things go.’
What can we expect from the finale tonight?
‘It feels much bigger in scope. It feels quite epic. It’s very long at 81 minutes, but it’s broken into three acts, so it’s structured like a film. When I was editing it, I wanted it to feel different to other episodes in the season. You have to build up to a moment where you want to pay off the show. It wasn’t about the characters doffing their caps and saying goodbye one final time. It’s really about Tommy Shelby and his psyche, and the darkness of his soul, and whether he’s going to get out of it.’
You’re right, we take a deeper look into Tommy’s grief-stricken and war-torn psyche in this series – how was that for you as a director?
‘I really enjoyed it because I was having these conversations with Cillian constantly. He’s playing the role, but we’re both going quite deep with the character. Tommy does things that none of us would ever do and you have to think about the reasoning behind his decisions all the time. When you’re editing his scenes, you’re piecing together his story, and then you’re choosing music to support an emotion or a scene or character. I stay in those moments for a lot longer than anybody else.’
Can we have a spoiler? Just one?
‘I can say that everything works out. We’ve created an ending that’s really beautiful and very poetic. And it's a resolution for Tommy Shelby.’
Watch Peaky Blinders on BBC One at 9pm on Sunday 3 April 2022.