Peaky Blinders, starring Cillian Murphy as Tommy Shelby, follows a gang in the streets of Birmingham. The show takes place in post World War I England, a major era of history. The gang is headed by the Shelby family, with Tommy Shelby as their leader. The show has been a major hit, and audiences have fallen in love with the brutal gang.
Peaky Blinders is actually rooted in history, as the gang in the show is based on an actual one of the same name. While the show depicts some things from the time period fairly well, there are still some major artistic liberties that are taken with the source material. The show-runners seem to have wanted to capture the feeling of the time period but still chose to alter history to fit into the narrative. Overall, the show is an excellent blend of historical accuracy and an interesting story, maintaining enough of a connection to the past while still providing something new and fascinating.
10 Historically Accurate: The Hats
One of the most iconic parts of the show is directly based on the original Peaky Blinders. The iconic hats the gang wears in the show were widely worn by the gang members in real life. The distinctive headwear was such an important feature of the gang that it is actually where the name Peaky Blinders originated. he peaked caps are more than just a cool look for the show, they were almost like a uniform, and in the mugshots of the original Peaky Blinders, you can see them all wearing the signature hat.
9 Fabricated: Time Period
Though Peaky Blinders does a fantastic job of capturing the time period in which it is set, there's just one major problem. The real Peaky Blinders weren't as prevelant following World War I. The original Peaky Blinders were much more prevalent in the 1890s.
The show took the gang and placed them in a different era because the setting following the Great War was an interesting route to take. Even though it's not exactly historically accurate, the time period adds a lot to the show.
8 Historically Accurate: Post-War Feeling
Peaky Blinders starts in 1919 immediately following the end of World War I. The show does a fantastic job of capturing the feeling of the time period, as the world recovered from the devastation of the Great War. The aftermath of the war significantly influenced culture, which eventually led to the roaring '20s. Peaky Blinders paints a picture of this transition, where hardship led to wild lifestyles and illicit activity.
7 Fabricated: Razor Blades
In the show, the Peaky Blinders have a rather deadly addition to the traditional peaked caps that they wear. They put razor blades into the rim of the cap and use it as a weapon. This leads to some incredibly interesting fight scenes with the gang swinging around their hats with brutal efficiency. The show even gives the blades as the reason the gang has their name, as the hats are used to cut the faces of their enemies, blinding them with their own blood. It's a clever origin for the name Peaky Blinders, but unfortunately, there's no evidence that the original gang ever did this.
6 Historically Accurate: Communism Fears
Alongside the major global event that was the First World War was another political development that can be seen in the show, the Communist Revolution in Russia. The fear of Communism spreading was rampant across the rest of Europe. In the show, the suspicion of someone being a communist is shown,and it is clear the level of distrust and hatred that many have towards the movement. This is a great depiction of the way that many felt at the time.
5 Fabricated: Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill makes several appearances throughout the show and while it may be cool to have one of history's most important figures featured, from a historical standpoint it doesn't make much sense. Winston Churchill never would have interacted with the original Peaky Blinders due to the time period. The show gives a not entirely accurate timeline of his career and the depiction of his character is little more than entirely fictitious.
4 Historically Accurate: Horse Racing
A major operation for the Peaky Blinders is running bets on horse races. This is representative of the time period, as gambling was largely prohibited. The lack of other organized forms of gambling led to a serious rise in horse racing and large amounts of money were wagered on the races. The Peaky Blinders used this to their advantage and make a serious profit from the operation. The show remains fairly accurate around the betting practices of the day, as large gangs would often run the operations.
3 Fabricated: IRA
During the show, the Peaky Blinders deal with the IRA or the Irish Republican Army. The IRA rose to prominence right after World War I. While it is accurate that the IRA would have been active during the time of the show, most of what is shown of them is inaccurate. Peaky Blinders uses the IRA to make an interesting story but is not worried about the history of the actual movement.
2 Historically Accurate: Cocaine
In the show, Arthur Shelby uses cocaine pretty regularly and there are several interesting scenes depicting the use of the drug. His use of the drug is more than just an aspect of his character, it's also rooted in history. During the period following World War I, cocaine saw a rise in popularity.
This was due to the attitudes following the war when people began to live for the moment and turn to methods of coping with the aftermath of the war.
1 Fabricated: Tommy Shelby
The biggest thing that was created for the show without a basis in history is the main character himself. There is no record of a real Tommy Shelby that was a member of the Peaky Blinders. While there is no historical figure for Shelby, he is still an incredibly compelling and interesting character. The show-runners did a great job of imagining what the leader of a gang like the Peaky Blinders would be like.