Peaky Blinders series 4: what you need to know

Peaky Blinders IV: Cillian Murphy is Thomas Shelby (C) BBC

Peaky Blinders IV: Cillian Murphy is Thomas Shelby (C) BBC - Credit: BBC/Caryn Mandabach/Robert Viglasky

Peaky Blinders is set to return for a fourth series – here's TV Editor Stacia Briggs' cutting edge guide to the gangster family epic with razor-sharp style.

1) The name of the show comes from the idea that gang members once wore peaked caps into which had been sewn razor blades – in fights, these were then slashed across foreheads of opponents, causing blood to pour down into their eyes and blind them.

2) Just why was everyone in Birmingham so ANGRY in ye olden days? Gang violence began when youths wanted to claim ownership of areas such as Small Heath and Cheapside in Birmingham. Postcode wars led to fights which in turn led to injuries, deaths and inventive deadly millinery.

3) Helen McCrory learned how to speak with Aunt Polly's Birmingham accent by watching 'endless' videos of the Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne. She is also primed if any other future roles require her to bite off the head of a bat.

4) Sam Neill was keen to nail the Northern Irish accent and so enlisted the help of James Nesbitt and Liam Neeson to help him perfect his lines as Chief Inspector Campbell. But then he was told to tone down the accent so that it could be understood better when the series was marketed in America.


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5) Birmingham boasts more canals than Venice (but less mosquitoes or gondolas).

6) It's thought to be unlikely that the real Peaky Blinders gang had razor blades in their hats. In the 1890s, when the gang was at its peak(y) razors were luxury items and likely to be too expensive for the gang members to own. The razors-in-caps idea stemmed from a John Douglas novel A Walk Down Summer Lane.

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7) By the time that Peaky Blinders was set, the most notorious gang in Birmingham was actually the far less imaginatively named 'The Birmingham Gang' (a name that does what it says on the tin). Most members were from the gang that followed the Peaky Blinders – the Brummagem Boys, who were 'a loose collection of pickpockets, racecourse thieves and pests who were gaining a lot of power.'

8) Many of the street scenes in Peaky Blinders are actually filmed in Liverpool, in the Toxteth area, while Stanley Dock in the city doubled as Birmingham's Garrison Lane.

9) Creator Steven Knight says this season is the best yet and that work has already started on a fifth series. He said: 'I have got the end in my mind; whether that happens at the end of five is the question. I want it to end when the first air raid siren sounds in Birmingham.'

10) In every series of Peaky Blinders, around 3,000 cigarettes are smoked. Cillian Murphy is a non-smoker and uses herbal rose cigarettes, although health warning experts say that just because you feel like a guru who lives in a cave and renounces The Man, herbal cigarettes impair vascular function just like normal cigs. Just say no (unless Tommy Shelby's offering, in which case, do whatever he says).

* Peaky Blinders in on BBC2 at 9pm on Wednesday nights from November 15.

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