Following the conclusion of Peaky Blinders’ final season, Cillian Murphy reveals that the series’ surge in popularity took him by surprise.
Following the conclusion of Peaky Blinders‘ final season, Cillian Murphy has revealed that the series’ surge in popularity took him by surprise. Murphy starred as the early 20th-century Birmingham-based gangster Thomas Shelby in the BBC crime drama. Peaky Blinders aired across six seasons from 2013 to 2022.
Taking place in late-1910s Birmingham following the conclusion of the First World War, Steven Knight’s Peaky Blinders follows former soldier Thomas Shelby (Murphy) as he establishes a criminal empire in the form of the Peaky Blinders. As the series progressed, Shelby and his family grew their criminal enterprise through race-fixing, gang warfare, and other illegal methods. As his empire grows, Tommy becomes involved in many historical causes and moments, living through events like the growing communist movement, the Irish War of Independence, the Wall Street Crash and Great Depression, prohibition, and the rise of fascism in the lead-up to the Second World War.
During an interview with EW, Murphy was asked about his experience with the show’s rise in popularity due to word-of-mouth praise. Discussing how the series began on the BBC’s second channel, BBC 2, with little advertising, the actor stated that the moment when it truly hit him how popular the series had become was at the show’s third season premiere in Birmingham. Murphy explained that it wasn’t just seeing thousands of fans gathered in costume at the event but hearing of parties and venues inspired by the series across the globe that helped him realize the impact that Peaky Blinders had. Check out Murphy’s full response below
“I like that you said that it was 100 percent by word of mouth, because that is true. We were a little show on BBC Two and the BBC does not spend much money on advertising. For me, it was when we went to the premiere of series 3 in Birmingham and there were thousands of people there and they were dressed as Peaky Blinders. Obviously, it’s about that city and it’s from there so it’s special, but at the same time, it was people all over the world having Peaky Blinder parties and Peaky Blinder weddings and there [were] all these pop-up shops and bars. Between series 2 and 3 for me was really when it started to become this phenomenon.”
Despite the shocking success of the series, Murphy has shared his feelings regarding the final season before, revealing how he had yet to grasp that the series was actually ending. Murphy previously admitted that he felt strange talking about the ending of season 6 due to it concluding a project he’d dedicated nearly a decade of his career to. The actor also stated that working on the series led to him developing good ties with his colleagues and people who had worked on the show.
Peaky Blinders took audiences by storm, leading to incredible growth in viewership and a solidified place in the pop culture of the 2010s. Murphy’s recollection perfectly illustrates the strength of the fandom, as the viewership not only saw it surpass the BBC’s expectations but create a phenomenon usually reserved for higher-budget, prime-time programming. As Knight prepares for the next chapter, fans are sure to be waiting in anticipation for the Shelby family’s next appearance.