The Real-Life Inspirations Behind Peaky Blinders

Do you ever wonder where the creators of Peaky Blinders get their inspiration for the show’s captivating characters and storylines? Well, look no further. This article will delve into the real-life inspirations behind the hit series that has captivated audiences for five seasons and counting.

Steven Knight, the creator of Peaky Blinders, drew from his family’s stories and extensive historical research to bring the show to life. The series is set in Birmingham, England, in the aftermath of World War I, and follows the Shelby family, a gang of ruthless and ambitious criminals who will stop at nothing to rise to the top of the city’s underworld.

But who were the real Peaky Blinders, and how much of the show is based on fact? Keep reading to find out.

The Real Peaky Blinders Gang and Their History

Now, let me tell you all about the real Peaky Blinders gang and their fascinating history.

The Peaky Blinders were a real gang that operated in Birmingham, England during the late 19th to early 20th century. They were known for their distinctive style of dress which included peaked caps and razor blades sewn into the peaks, which they used as weapons.

The gang was made up of mostly young men who came from working-class backgrounds. They were involved in various criminal activities such as robbery, protection rackets, and illegal gambling. The Peaky Blinders were infamous for their violent methods and were feared by many in the area.

However, their reign was short-lived as they were eventually brought down by the police and other rival gangs. Nonetheless, the Peaky Blinders have become a part of popular culture and have been immortalized in books, movies, and TV shows.

Steven Knight’s Family Stories and Historical Research

You can feel the passion in Steven Knight’s storytelling as he draws from personal family stories and extensive historical research to bring the world of Peaky Blinders to life.

Knight’s own family history in Birmingham serves as a major inspiration for the show, as his grandfather was a member of a real-life gang in the early 20th century.

In addition to his personal connections, Knight conducted extensive research into the history of Birmingham and the real-life gangs that operated in the area during the time period depicted in the show. He consulted with historians and even visited the archives of the Birmingham Library to gather information and ensure historical accuracy.

This attention to detail is evident in the show’s depiction of both the gang’s criminal activities and the social and political climate of the time.

Comparing Real-Life Inspirations to the Show’s Fictionalized Version

Let’s take a moment to compare the actual history of Birmingham’s gangs to the fictionalized version presented in Peaky Blinders. While the show does draw inspiration from real-life gangs like the Peaky Blinders and the Birmingham Boys, it also takes significant creative liberties in its portrayal of these groups.

For example, the show’s depiction of the Peaky Blinders as a highly organized and sophisticated criminal organization is largely fictionalized. In reality, the Peaky Blinders were a group of young men from working-class backgrounds who engaged in petty crimes like mugging and theft.

Similarly, the show’s portrayal of the Birmingham Boys as the Peaky Blinders’ main rivals is not entirely accurate. While the Birmingham Boys did exist and were a significant gang in Birmingham during the early 20th century, they were not as powerful or influential as the show suggests. In fact, many historians believe that the real-life Peaky Blinders were more of a threat to themselves than to any other gang in Birmingham.

Overall, while Peaky Blinders does draw from real-life history, it’s important to remember that the show is a work of fiction and shouldn’t be taken as an entirely accurate depiction of the time period.

Notable Figures Who Inspired Peaky Blinders Characters

Get ready to discover some of the real-life figures who inspired the iconic characters in Peaky Blinders. The show’s creator, Steven Knight, has admitted that he drew inspiration from various sources, including his own family history.

One of the most notable inspirations is the real-life Birmingham gangster, Billy Kimber, who was the leader of a group called the Birmingham Boys in the early 1900s. In Peaky Blinders, Kimber is portrayed by actor Charlie Creed-Miles as a ruthless and cunning gang leader who clashes with the Shelby family.

Another character inspired by a real-life figure is Alfie Solomons, portrayed by actor Tom Hardy. The character is based on a Jewish gang leader named Alfie Solomon, who was known for his involvement in the London criminal underworld during the 1920s and 1930s. In the show, Alfie is depicted as a cunning and unpredictable ally of the Shelby family, who is always looking out for his own interests.

These real-life inspirations add an extra layer of authenticity to the show’s characters and make them even more compelling.

Events That Shaped the Show’s Storylines

The gripping storylines of Peaky Blinders were shaped by tumultuous events in history, stirring up powerful emotions in viewers. The show is set in the aftermath of World War I, a time of great social and economic upheaval in Britain. The characters struggle to adapt to the changing landscape, facing challenges such as the rise of communism, the emergence of the women’s suffrage movement, and the violent clashes between rival gangs.

One of the most significant events that shaped the show’s storylines was the Irish War of Independence. The conflict between the British government and Irish nationalists had a profound impact on the characters, particularly the Shelby family. The show explores the complex relationships between the Irish and British communities, as well as the internal divisions within the Irish nationalist movement.

Through its portrayal of these events, Peaky Blinders provides a powerful commentary on the impact of political turmoil on ordinary people.

Frequently Asked Questions

How did the actors prepare for their roles in Peaky Blinders?

To prepare for their roles in Peaky Blinders, the actors immersed themselves in the world of Birmingham gangsters. They studied the accent, learned how to handle weapons, and even practiced boxing.

What was the budget for each season of Peaky Blinders?

You’re wondering about the budget for each season of Peaky Blinders. The exact figures are unknown, but it’s estimated that the show’s production costs increased with each season, with the fifth season having the highest budget.

How did the show’s creators decide on the soundtrack for the series?

You might be curious about how the creators of Peaky Blinders chose the series’ soundtrack. The team carefully selected a mix of contemporary and classic tracks to capture the mood and energy of the show’s gritty world.

What impact did Peaky Blinders have on the fashion industry?

Peaky Blinders had a huge impact on the fashion industry, with its signature flat caps and tailored suits becoming a popular trend. You probably started seeing these styles everywhere after the show’s success.

Were any real-life descendants of the Peaky Blinders gang involved in the making of the show?

No, none of the real-life descendants of the Peaky Blinders gang were involved in the making of the show. However, the show’s creators did extensive research and consultation with historians to accurately portray the era and gang.


You now know that the Peaky Blinders is more than just a show about a gang in Birmingham. It’s a tribute to the real-life gang that existed in the early 20th century. Steven Knight’s family stories and historical research made it possible for viewers to see a glimpse of the gang’s way of life. The show is a product of both fact and fiction, which adds to its unique charm.

The real-life inspirations behind the show’s characters and storylines are fascinating and add depth to the already compelling show. From Arthur Shelby’s real-life counterpart to the events that shaped the plot, the Peaky Blinders is a masterpiece of storytelling.

So, if you haven’t watched the show yet, it’s time to binge-watch it and appreciate the real-life inspirations behind it.