Peaky Blinders has seen several gangs come and go over the course of its five seasons, from a Camden Town Jewish mob led by Alfie Solomons (Tom Hardy) to a New York Mafia family headed up by Luca Changretta (Adrien Brody).
In season 5 episode 2, a new gang made their presence felt, placing mines in Tommy Shelby’s grounds, erecting an effigy of him on a cross and shooting Aberama Gold’s son dead. They’re called the Billy Boys, hail from Scotland and follow their leader Jimmy McCavern (Brian Gleeson).
They presumably take their name from the real-life Bridgeton Billy Boys (often known simply as the Billy Boys), one of the Glasgow razor gangs that were operational in the 1920s and 1930s.
The gang were largely based in working-class districts in the South Side and East End of Glasgow, rumbling with rivals like the Beehive Boys, Calton Entry and South Side Stickers.
They were know for their militaristic style, organising in marches, forming bands and singing their own songs – all elements reflected in the show when the Billy Boys ambush Aberama Gold and his son in the woods while singing their eponymous song.
In real life, the gang wasn’t led by a Jimmy but, logically, a Billy – Billy Fullerton. Interestingly, Fullerton was a former member of the British Fascists, which ultimately merged with the New Party led by one Oswald Mosley. It could be a coincidence that the Billy Boys arrive in the show at the same time as Mosley (played by Sam Claflin), or it could be a sign that they will join forces later in the season.
In real life, the Glasgow street gangs went into decline in the 1930s due to more successful policing, but given the Billy Boys’ recent actions in Peaky Blinders, Tommy Shelby will surely be plotting a more decisive downfall for the on-screen version.