In brief: The official book of the brilliant television series, looking at the first four series.
The good: It’s the Peaky Blinders!
The not-so-good: Wish the photos were more detailed…
Why I chose it: I love this show.
Publisher: Michael O’Mara Books
Setting: Birmingham and London, with a touch of the USA
Rating: 10 out of 10 (Arthur might be angry if I say anything else)
Peaky Blinders is my favourite television drama at the moment. It’s a great show, with high drama, violence and emotion. Even though the Peaky Blinders are gangsters, you can’t help but be invested in them and want them to succeed. This is the book for the fans, looking at the story from the creation through to the end of series four. (Series five came to the screens in 2019, and season six is coming…)
The companion book is organised in a logical fashion, with the story starting with Steven Knight’s creation of the series. It’s based on the stories told to him as a youngster in Birmingham along with his experiences. The brief for Peaky Blinders is to make it larger than life, with great clothes, sets and drama. The book then discusses the plot of each series, interspersed with each of the actors of the main character talking about their character in the first person. It’s a unique way of doing this and it really shows the depth of research and knowledge each actor has of their character, down to the small costume details you can’t see and the mannerisms. (For example, should Tommy touch Polly’s arm? Or is that too weird? Does Tommy Shelby actually cry?) All the major characters are covered but I kind of wish Sam Neill (Major Campbell) and Tom Hardy (Alfie Solomons) had been included. Even though their time was limited/they had smaller roles, it would have been fascinating to hear their thoughts. (Especially Sam Neill, as his character just got more and more repulsive – how does he manage?) A collection of Alfie’s quotes would have been great too, but I see that the internet has that covered. I am glad to see that others love Arthur as much as I do!
The book also covers the sets – Birmingham, the canals, Tommy’s mansion and the betting shop. Of course, there is a section devoted to the fashion – and the Peaky haircuts. And it wouldn’t be a Peaky Blinders book without information on the music, which really is like another character. There is a list of the music used in the series, what makes a song ‘Peaky’ and how it adds to the characters’ thoughts and motivations. (Knowing some of the songs well, I can confirm that the lyrics definitely fit in with the action and I will never not think of Tommy when I hear The Last Shadow Puppets’ Bad Habits).
Does the book give additional insight for the hardcore fan? Yes, but in areas other than the plot which is fairly general in its rundown. But you know that you have to have it, by order of the Peaky Blinders.