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Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Peaky Blinders (Birmingham Gangsters from Victorian to Post WWI)

Who were the real Peaky Blinders? These gangs were notorious in Victorian times in the city of Birmingham, UK. They wore peaked caps as everyone of working class background did. However, they had razor blades inside their peaks which were put to violent use during fighting. They were early gangsters who ran rackets by intimidation. 

With authoritative and organised networks they began to run illegal gambling outlets and steadily accumulated large sums of money.

Now the BBC has made a new t.v. series called: Peaky Blinders

This drama is set not during Victorian times, but post WWI. Many of the gang members are ex-soldiers from the trenches of France. In the USA, the American film makers make wonderful stories of their historical criminal gangs. It is good to see a UK drama based upon the gangs that were going in Britain. All the big cities had them, but the Peaky Blinders were Birmingham based.

Our post WWI Peaky Blinders gang are around in 1919 and it is a very turbulent time in the UK. Ireland is fighting for secession from Britain and the street gangs of Britain are becoming more organised due to army experience and unemployment after serving their nation. There is wide spread resentment and the times are rather turbulent.

In the BBC production of the Peaky Blinders; our gang have attempted to steal boxed motor bikes from the BSA motor bike making company. The accidentally steal an arms consignment of various weapons, including 25 Lewis machine guns. These are hot potatoes that the Peaky Blinders could do without. So they stash them in a secret location.

In London the government are concerned that the Birmingham gangsters might put the guns up for sale to the IRA who are fighting against Crown Forces in Ireland. Winston Churchill summons a Chief Inspector from Belfast's Royal Irish Constabulary. This Chief Inspector Campbell, played by Sam Neil, comes over to Birmingham and is put in charge of the English cities constabulary in the particular area of Birmingham where the Peaky Blinder gang is operating. With the chief inspector is a contingent of dreaded B specials - a protestant pro-British Irish police force.

BBC Peaky Blinders Gangster Drama

Also an under cover pro-British, protestant Irish woman who infiltrates a Peaky Blinder pub as a bar maid. She is really a loyalist under cover operative charged with trying to find out information about the Peaky Blinder gang led by Cillian Murphy.

The story works very well with a strange twist where by the pro-British Irish are trying to police subversive English working class gangsters in England. It works wonderfully well and the story was rather gripping with all sorts of twists and turns. My only criticism of the drama was the music. We get rock music (electric guitar) fanfares to promote moments of excitement. I just could not get my head around those bits of background music. Musical rock pieces don't go well with the 1919 short back and sides hair cut settings. It could have been English/Irish folk jigs. I honestly think this would capture the mood more.

Still aside from the background music, I did enjoy the Peaky Blinders drama. There is now a season two coming out, and I'm looking forward to it. Well worth a watch if you like historical dramas. 






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