How the ‘Peaky Blinders’ finale sets up a movie and TV spin-offs

It's Tommy vs the fascists in World War II

Last night’s Peaky Blinders finale said goodbye to some old faces (Michael Gray, Captain Swing etc) but it also saw new roads open up for the Brummie gang too (including their now-not-dying leader Tommy Shelby). What happens next – in film or on TV – is a question as exciting as any the franchise has posed to this point. So, as the dust continues to settle, it’s time to retire to The Garrison pub for drinks and to contemplate the future.

How does the final episode set up a film?

Creator Steven Knight told the Radio Times recently that the film will be set during World War II. In years past, the screenwriter mused that the main series would wrap up with the sound of air raid sirens ringing across Birmingham; a plan obviously nixed. Still, when we left the Peaky Blinders last night, it was several years until hostilities start breaking out. Facist lovers Oswald Mosley (Sam Claflin) and Diana Mitford (Amber Anderson), whose wedding photo forms the crux of the finale’s twist, were married in 1936.

“I know what’s going to happen in those stories,” said Knight, whose first post-Peaky project SAS: Rogue Heroes is also set during the global conflict. “It’s about a sort of untold story that happened in the Second World War, which Peakys are going to be involved in.” Knight also revealed that the late Helen McCrory, who played Aunt Polly Gray in the first five seasons, will “remain a fundamental part of the movie.”

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This suggests that Tommy (Cillian Murphy) will cross paths once more with Mosley and Mitford. Perhaps Winston Churchill too, who was barely seen nor mentioned in the show’s final season. Owing to the real-life existence of said figures there are only so many creative liberties than can be taken with the storytelling. Mosley and Mitford were interned in Holloway Prison between 1940 and 1943, then exiled in disgrace thereafter. Also worth bearing in mind is that some of the Blinders are of age to be conscripted (18-41) – though that doesn’t include Tommy, who would be 48 in 1939. Could he be drafted in as an officer?

Though there’s been no official word, rumours are that the film will begin shooting in 2023.

Peaky Blinders ending
Could Duke (Conrad Khan) eventually take over his father’s empire? CREDIT: BBC

What about the TV spin-offs?

Knight told Entertainment Weekly earlier this year that “we’ll set in motion some spin-offs that will be part of the same universe.” The easy money would be on a series hung around the exploits of Alfie Solomons. A Jewish crime lord responding to creeping fascism? We’re here for that. Sure, Tom ‘Venom’ Hardy is a film star proper, but he’s no stranger to TV having appeared in Knight’s dark drama Taboo in 2017. Last year, Knight confirmed that season two was essentially written, though he was waiting for Hardy’s schedule to allow the filming of it.

And what of the rivalry born between Finn (Harry Kirton) and Duke (Conrad Khan) that ignited at the end of the main series’ finale? Khan is one of British drama’s fastest rising stars. It seems unlikely he’d be recruited for just three episodes. And is there anything there for Stephen Graham’s Scouse dock kingpin Hayden Stagg to do, an underwhelming if heavyweight addition to season six’s cast. Personally, we’d just like to see more of Ada being sassy. No! Ada and Lizzie being sassy. Kind of like if Absolutely Fabulous relocated to Small Heath.

Peaky Blinders
Ada Shelby, played by Sophie Rundle. CREDIT: BBC

Is there anything else planned?

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Peaky Blinders has stepped off screen and into other realms before, as those who have attended the ambitious but thoroughly fun Peaky Blinders music festival in Digbeth, Birmingham will know. And later this year the first Peaky Blinders ballet – let’s say that again… ballet! – will be debuting in Birmingham before heading out on a UK tour.

It’s called Peaky Blinders: The Redemption of Thomas Shelby and is directed and choreographed by Benoit Swan Pouffer (a name we’d love to hear Arthur get his chops around). Stephen Knight said via a statement: “Peaky Blinders has always had music and movement at its heart and now the beating heart of the show will be transferred to the stage, an interpretation of Tommy’s story performed by Rambert, one of the leading dance companies in the world. This is dance for people who don’t usually watch dance and what I’ve written has been transformed into something startling by consummate dancers and choreographers. If the concept of a Peaky Blinders dance seems strange, reserve judgement and reserve a ticket.”

As Knight has been saying for about season six months now, this isn’t the beginning of the end but the end of the beginning.

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