Review: Peaky Blinders may fall of short of its ambitions, but at least it is a glorious failure

It took me ages to get into Peaky Blinders (BBC1, Sun, 9pm) – I got stuck on episode three of the first series for what seemed like years.

By Philip Cunnington
Friday, 4th March 2022, 5:00 pm

I stuck with it though, and as the sixth and final series begins you find me – like our anti-hero Tommy Shelby – stumbling through the mud with a must-finish-this gun to my head, looking for a way out.

Tommy’s rather histrionic way of ending it all is easily solved by having his brother Arthur removing all the bullets from his gun in the gap between the last series and this, but it leaves Tommy free to embark on a new plan for world domination, involving French-Canadian bootleggers and the Boston mob.

Much like Tommy, this series seems to have been bent on world domination from the start, taking the age-old American gangster tropes of family, violence and betrayal and translating them to the dark, satanic mills of Birmingham.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Cillian Murphy stars as Tommy Shelby in the new series of BBC drama Peaky Blinders. Programme Name: Peaky Blinders VI - TX: n/a - Episode: Ep 1 (No. 1) - Picture Shows: Tommy Shelby (CILLIAN MURPHY) - (C) Caryn Mandabach Productions Ltd. - Photographer: Matt Squire

It’s beautiful to look at, with an ensemble cast that really seems to enjoy getting its teeth into the slow-motion walking past fiery furnaces and the dialogue which is at its best when spat in a Brylcreemed gangster’s face.

But, as Tommy is told “you consistently fail to understand your own limitations”, and this series is the same. It’s a Black Country saga which believes it’s The Godfather, but somehow it doesn’t work without the Italian back story, the yellow cabs and the vendettas.

However, you can’t fault the fact that in shooting for the stars, it only makes it to the moon. That’s more than the never-ending cop shows, hospital dramas and snooty old period dramas manages, and it deserves acclaim for that alone.