Speaking to Empire magazine, Murphy said: “What I always feel sad about is that we were about to shoot and then the pandemic happened and we had to stop. If we had shot then, Helen would’ve been in the show, and that makes me feel sad.
“It’s a huge loss; it’s hard to comprehend it. Because she was the matriarch of the whole thing. As the character, but just also as her personality. But she’s still present in series six.”
He added: “[Creator Steven Knight] has managed to keep her very, very present, which I think is a brilliant tribute to Steve and also to Helen. But we couldn’t quite fathom it all as we were making it, you know?”
Following McCrory’s death, Murphy said he was “broken-hearted to lose such a dear friend” in a statement at the time.
“Helen was a beautiful, caring, funny, compassionate human being,” Murphy said. “She was also a gifted actor – fearless and magnificent. She elevated and made humane every scene, every character she played.
“It was a privilege to have worked with this brilliant woman, to have shared so many laughs over the years.”
Murphy will return as Tommy Shelby in the final series, alongside Paul Anderson as Arthur, Sam Claflin as Oswald Mosley, Tom Hardy as Alfie Solomons, Sophia Rundle as Ada Thorne, Harry Kirton as Finn Shelby, Anya Taylor Joy as Gina Gray and Finn Cole’s Michael Gray. Stephen Graham has also been cast in an unknown role.
Peaky Blinders season six will be released in 2022 on BBC One in the UK.