Cillian Murphy has revealed that the series’ increase in popularity caught him off guard following the conclusion of the final season of Peaky Blinders. In the BBC crime drama, Murphy played Thomas Shelby, a mobster from Birmingham in the early twentieth century. Peaky Blinders ran for six seasons between 2013 and 2022.
Murphy was questioned about his experience with the show’s growth in popularity thanks to word-of-mouth praise during an interview with EW. The actor said that the moment he realised how popular the series had become was during the show’s third season premiere in Birmingham, which aired on the BBC’s second channel, BBC 2, with little advertising. Murphy added that hearing about parties and venues inspired by Peaky Blinders around the world, as well as seeing thousands of fans dressed up at the event, made him comprehend the series’ influence.
“I like that you said that it was 100 percent by word of mouth, because that is true. We were a little show on BBC Two and the BBC does not spend much money on advertising. For me, it was when we went to the premiere of series 3 in Birmingham and there were thousands of people there and they were dressed as Peaky Blinders. Obviously, it’s about that city and it’s from there so it’s special, but at the same time, it was people all over the world having Peaky Blinder parties and Peaky Blinder weddings and there [were] all these pop-up shops and bars. Between series 2 and 3 for me was really when it started to become this phenomenon,” Murphy added.
Steven Knight’s Peaky Blinders is set in late 1910s Birmingham, following the end of World War I, and follows former soldier Thomas Shelby as he develops a criminal empire in the form of the Peaky Blinders. Shelby and his family built their illicit enterprise through race-fixing, gang warfare, and other unlawful techniques as the series went. Tommy becomes involved in numerous historical causes and occasions as his empire grows, witnessing events such as the developing communist movement, the Irish War of Independence, the Wall Street Crash and Great Depression, prohibition, and the development of fascism in the run-up to WWII.
Peaky Blinders captivated fans, resulting in massive increases in viewing and a permanent place in pop culture during the decade. Murphy’s remembrance wonderfully exemplifies the fandom’s strength, since the audience not only saw it exceed the BBC’s expectations, but also created a phenomenon often reserved for higher-budget, prime-time programmes. Fans will be eagerly anticipating the Shelby family’s next appearance as Knight prepares for the new chapter.