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‘Peaky Blinders’ is a fictional adaptation of the real life gangs who plagued the streets of Birmingham from the late 19th century until just before World War 2. The show, which first broadcast on the BBC in 2013, has featured actors including Cillian Murphy as lead Thomas Shelby, Tom Hardy, Helen McCrory, Joe Cole and others. Before the TV show was broadcast on Netflix, the BBC reported that 3.84 million people watched the final episode of series five last September – their highest figures to date. Screenwriter Steven Knight, who also co-created ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’, claimed there were fans of the programme all over the world. He recalled a heartwarming offer made by musician David Bowie shortly before he passed away aged 69, from liver cancer in 2016. The British rock and roll icon, who claimed to be a massive fan of the show, expressed his interest in helping the team out with a gift to ‘Peaky Blinders’.
TV producer Steven Knight based ‘Peaky Blinders’ on real life accounts of the criminal gangs that he was told during his childhood.
He revealed that his mother helped the gang’s illegal betting operation and that his uncles were both part of the gangs too.
Mr Knight was surprised by the success of the show, which is due to film its sixth series, and believed its “swagger” and how it “looks” led to such a large following.
He told BBC Podcast ‘Obsessed With…’ in 2019: “What astonishes me most is the way that it’s caught on around the world, in the United States it’s huge, South America, Rio [de Janeiro, Brazil].
“There are people dressed as Peakys in Turkey and Russia… everywhere people come back from, they say they just went into the ‘Peaky Blinders’ bar.
“It has sort of struck a chord and maybe it’s because about family, it’s about men, as well their flaws and their faults, and heroism.”
He claimed to “love” the fan art people have created and described them as “just amazing”.
Mr Knight added: “You just have to go ‘wow’, [some people] have had their trucks decorated, people have tattooed characters onto their body.”
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He expressed that he is “very passionate about Birmingham” and is glad that ‘Peaky Blinders’ has helped to make the Second City less “invisible”.
While talking about music used in the show, he revealed that a number of performers had approached him and asked him to feature their songs.
Mr Knight said: “It happened quite early, so we are very fortunate where we can get music that perhaps another show might not get because people really want to be part of it.
“The most astonishing one was David Bowie, just before he died his business manager came to my house and played the new album.
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“He asked, ‘So do you think there’s anything you can use?’, I said ‘Well yeah, you know it’s amazing,’ so we did use some of that.
“It attracts musicians partly for the music but I think also from the look of it too, I don’t know why that strikes a chord.”
When asked about the artists whose songs he was most delighted to feature, he reeled off some of his favourites.
He replied: “Leonard Cohen, my hero, who is no longer with us but we used one track of his and that was a great thing for me, and Bob Dylan, watch this space.”
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