In Peaky Blinders, Tommy Shelby is the enigmatic leader of a notorious Birmingham crime family, who has more than a few skeletons in his closet.
In season five, Shelby, played by the incomparable Cillian Murphy, is still reeling from the loss of his wife and coping with the fallout for the 1929 stock market crash while making a name for himself as an MP. The crime boss’ inner life is explored in a new audio story from series creator Steven Knight, read by Murphy himself, which gives us some insight into how Shelby became the man he is.
In the short poem entitled The Ballad of Tommy Shelby, Murphy narrates the story of his character as a young child through to the horrors he experienced World War I. The poem features a few revelations about Shelby’s youth on the rough and tumble streets of Birmingham.
Without revealing too much, fans of the series will discover how Shelby has been putting the fear of God into his neighbors from a young age by appearing from the fog with a stick. The poem also explores his love of horses and how he once tried to kill a man to save one.
After enlisting in 1915, Shelby develops hatred towards those who sent him into battle, which explains his aversion to religion and authority. “He went away in a ship to fight a million other kids and they all drew straws to see who eventually died,” Murphy reads. “And the kid came home knowing everyone, but the horses lied.”
“So, we’re burning all the bridges and burning the past and we’ll tell the sons of bitches that this is a new day,” he continues. The poem ends with Shelby returning from the war as the man that fans get to meet in the first season of the show.
“Then by some miracle, they sail you home to the place you used to be. I got out of the hole and into a Mercedes Benz and I drove to the place the old morality ends,” he reads. “I became the solider of the living lost, the king and protector of the forgotten past, never once remember anything except what must come next. You must never, ever forgive me for the rest of what I did.”
Viewers will clearly recognize the signs of PTSD in the character after he returns to Small Heath. This condition only seems to worsen with each passing season. Fans will be happy to know that Peaky Blinders season 6 is set to start production early next year. There have also been rumors that Al Capone will appear as a character.
In the past, Shelby mentioned Capone in a conversation with Luca Changretta, played by Adrien Brody, therefore, it is possible that as Michael Gray moves to America, the Chicago mob boss, who helped Shelby take out Changretta, may come into play in series 6. Knight also revealed in the Obsessed With… Peaky Blinders podcast that he had Stephen Graham lined up for the role of Capone.
On a recent AMA on Reddit, Knight said, “I’m not [planning] on heading West necessarily, but if we come across famous figures who are involved in the businesses Tommy is involved in, we will certainly use them. In series six, there will be a figure from history who may surprise people.”