Peaky Blinders Series 1 Episode 1 (BBC2) Review

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First things first – don’t be put off by the slightly daft title, Peaky Blinders is the next British drama to set for series record. Tucked away in the weeks leading up to the fall season both in the US and UK and following a summer of great telly, it’d be all too easy to give this one a miss, but you really shouldn’t. The BBC’s latest drama isn’t even a thriller or murder mystery, but a super-stylish gangster epic focusing on the titular gang, famous for wearing razor blades in their caps.

Cillian Murphy is Tommy, leader of the gang and the stand-out performance of this first episode. Murphy is always great, a mesmerising presence on screen and, with Sam Neil also joining him, we’re really spoilt for talent. You sense that the show is going to be an ensemble drama, however, so it’s good news that there isn’t a dud among the cast, each character standing out individually despite the busyness of this first episode. It’s fun to have big, recognisable Hollywood stars, but everyone else is just as good.

The action is set in post-WW1 Birmingham, just before the roaring twenties and in a world where absolutely everyone is still reeling from the traumas of war. Tommy himself is carrying around a sizeable amount of baggage, and the setting adds lots of texture to the series as well as offering story and character ideas we’ll explore over the next six weeks. Peaky Blinders is super-stylish and wonderfully measured throughout, not glamorising a decidedly unglamorous period but still giving us someone beautiful to look at. The opening sequence, in particular, is simply mesmerising.

This is a proper, traditional gangster story with the look and feel of a big Hollywood production, ready for us to enjoy on the small screen week after week. That’s something to get excited about, for sure.

What did you think of the episode? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Peaky Blinders airs on BBC2 in the UK.