Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/782/17508
TV review: Peaky Blinders
Nick Hart, Birmingham Socialist Party
Set in Birmingham in 1919, new BBC drama Peaky Blinders gives a fictionalised account of the criminal outfit of that name in the early 20th century, giving an engaging snapshot of the political situation then.
Gang leader Thomas Shelby, played by Cillian Murphy, is joined by fellow Great War veteran Freddie Thorne, a member of the nascent Communist International. Agitating for a strike at the Birmingham Small Arms factory, he describes the horrors of the trenches before going on to say: "and what reward do they (the bosses) offer for your sacrifices? A cut in your wages!"
When a consignment of weapons goes missing from the factory, police inspector Campbell is drafted in from Belfast, having been involved in the British government's suppression of the IRA following the Easter Uprising - an important event in Birmingham and other cities with a large Irish population.
The series is slightly guilty of adding a Hollywood gloss to the squalid conditions before the introduction of free healthcare and when overcrowding was the norm in working class areas.
An opportunity was missed for a more detailed picture of everyday life at the time, opting for fast-paced action instead. But it proves an entertaining look at an eventful period of British history.
In The Socialist 2 October 2013:
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party reviews
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
International socialist news and analysis