Cillian Murphy and Sophie Rundle in the gangster series Peaky Blinders.
By Lizzie Healey
Peaky Blinders was always going to be uncomfortable Sunday night television viewing.
But it has become even more so here in the West of Scotland, where the block busting gangster series has been touching on Scotland’s shame – sectarianism.
Glasgow’s East End razor gangs of the 1930s have been exposed for what they were, extremely violent and bitterly anti-Catholic.
On Sunday night, it was the turn of the Catholic Church to take it on the wimple when a nun, the Scottish mother superior of a children’s home, was threatened for ill-treating and abusing children in her religious order’s care.
The epic drama starring Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, Sam Claflin, Helen McCrory, Charlene McKenna, Sophie Rundle and Natasha O’Keeffe is set in the lawless streets of 1920s Birmingham.
But it switches dramatically to Glasgow’s East End, and the imagined rural borders of Tollcross plus the Brigton Billy Boys and their leader, Billy Fullarton, who now features large in some appalling events.
It follows a former war hero, Thomas “Tommy” Shelby (Cillian Murphy), and his family as they become one of the most powerful street gangs, the Peaky Blinders, turning from crime to “legitimate business.”
Two episodes into the new series, plays on the theme of Thomas’s time in the Great War (WWI) as well as the Peaky Blinders’ “owning the ropes” and avoiding being hanged. The voice-over says “There’s God… and then there’s the Peaky Blinders.”
Peaky Blinders in Dumbarton High Street. Photo shopped by Tom Gardiner
But the trailer hints that some sort of depression is on the way, with one of the female characters saying: “No one’s gonna hang you Tommy. You’re gonna hang yourself.”
The opening episodes certainly show some dark moments with Tommy, and with the Great Depression on the horizon, it will be interesting to see how it plays out for the Shelbys.
The female cast may play more of a role in this Season 5, with the actresses receiving praise following the world premiere.
Christina Savvas of Birmingham Live, who has seen the first episode, wrote on Twitter: “I’ve seen the first episode and it’s incredible. The female actresses, in particular, are amazing.”
Peaky Blinders is extremely violent and is not for the faint-hearted.
However, the end isn’t necessarily in sight for this series.
Peaky Blinders writer, Steven Knight, spoke at the BAFTAs this year and said the show would end after Season 7, meaning we have three more seasons to go.
The current series is expected to have six episodes, meaning that the last episode will air September 29.
It could be that it will then go on Netflix.
Sectarian violence is still going on in the West of Scotland, 150 years after it first reared its ugly head here.
There were clashes between factions in the streets of Govan on Friday night and two men will appear in court in the city this week.
LATEST: Council bosses have vowed to “push the law” in order to protect the public following sectarian disorder in Glasgow on Friday night.
Riot police, a helicopter, and dog units were called in when an Irish Unity march was met by loyalist counter-demonstrators in Govan.
Three more marches are planned for this week including one on Monday evening.
Council leader Susan Aitken said legislation may have to be tested to strengthen the authority’s hand.
She told BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “I am absolutely clear that the council’s procedures are not in any way at fault here. The council made the decision that the council has the ability to make.
“Over the past year, Glasgow City Council has pushed the law as far as we can on this, to the extent of being taken to court. And it may well be that we have to do this again.”