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Friday, 9 August 2019

Interviews: The ladies of Peaky Blinders - Sophie Rundle & Natasha O'Keeffe

As we build up to Series 5 of Peaky Blinders at the end of the month, Our Michael Lee sits down with members of the cast to find out what we can expect.


It's great to meet Sophie Rundle and Natasha O'Keeffe together, both are of a similar age and with CV's that are growing ever more impressive. Sophie has been part of both successful cult programmes and massive ratings hits, with Bodyguard and Gentleman Jack the most recent of those.

Before the huge success of Peaky Blinders, one of Natasha's earliest breakthroughs was landing a leading role in Misfits. Both are young and have the acting world as their oyster but today they are only here to talk about that one little area of the planet called Small Heath.

What's in store for Lizzie this time around?

Natasha: "It's an entangled relationship between Lizzie and Tommy. She is one of the Shelby's now she has a child with him. Lizzie is the engine behind Tommy at this stage. She's been the loyal one that's keeping him grounded"

How has she taken to being a mum? 

She's kind of the lady of the manor as they have a nanny. Lizzie is embracing motherhood and is trying to protect her family"

Is her sex work fully in the past?

"She knows where she's come from and knows in a click she could be back there. There's a plot in this series where there's some mind play and she's got to work with that"

Sophie: "That's part of what pulls Lizzie in. She feels like family and they're all trying to escape their past. It's why you work well in that dynamic. They all had nothing and now they're living these very ostentatious lives. A wrong step by the family and it could all come crashing down"

What's Ada's take on Tommy's Westminster career?

Sophie: "Politics has always been Ada's thing. She's got strong convictions and now that Tommy has taken a step into that area that world has come back to her. It's frustrating that her older brother is getting to do what she wanted to do. As a woman, that route isn't an option for her.  She becomes his confidant and ally in many ways. They're perhaps the two most intellectual Shelbys and that bonds them. This is Ada and Tommy finding a mutual understanding"

BBC/Caryn Mandabach Productions Ltd 2019/Matt Squire
Ada has always been in a moral conflict with her family.

"I think she always will be to a certain extent but she's embraced it out of necessity. She loves her family therefore has to accept them"

The women of Peaky Blinders have formed a strong unit recently. Is there more if that?

Natasha:  "Yes, most definitely. There's also more covert things happening behind the scenes without the men involved!"

Sophie: "I think it is still quite unusual to get such strong, brilliant, powerful women on screen so it's exciting when they collide with each other. It's not just one strong female character leading a drama, they're fucking everywhere!"

Apparently, Peaky Blinders has more female viewers than male.

Sophie: "I think it's a really outdated, lazy inherited opinion that women like this kind of TV and men like that kind of TV. In the past five to ten years we're really splitting that open. There's an assumption that women like nicey nicey shows with princess hair and men like guns. I don't know any women like that in my life . It's about the story. There isn't too much toxic masculinity on this show and it is counteracted with people being fallible as well as the interesting female characters. That is appealing to everyone"

Natasha:  "The show is essentially about an idiosyncratic family so I guess that's why it's popular as well"

What do you make of the public's reaction to the show?

Sophie: "It's mad isn't it? What did you get given by David Beckham?"

Natasha: "Well, he said he'd get me a coat from his clothing range because I like tailored things but I didn't actually get a coat, I got a candle!"

Sophie: (Who is in hysterics by now) "It's so weird! David Beckham sent you a candle!"

Natasha:  "And a little note!" As a Manchester United fan my ten-year-old self would never have thought I'd shake Beckham's hand. It's just really funny and so random. Yeah, there's David Beckham between a take just chatting with Steve (Knight) behind a monitor"

Sophie: "We've come a long way from series one where people were like 'P..P..Pokey Blunders?!' and then there's David Beckham"

As they sit here they're a far cry from their screen personas. They're more like naughty sisters, giggling at everything and trying to hold back the inappropriate stuff. It's almost as if they're bloody good at the acting malarkey.

Where would you like you character to go from here? 

Natasha: "In my dream scenario, if it's going into political lands, then Lizzie Stark/Shelby as the next Prime Minister! It could go anywhere. That's the beauty of this show. Think of all the people you could invite in from history books"

Sophie: "It'd be interesting to see these women, instead of having to insist upon freedoms and liberties, being given them. I'd like to see what they'd do with that and the tragedy of another war. When we first met them it was on the back of these broken men and that's what makes this period so fascinating with hindsight. They're living between these two wars but they don't know that"

Natasha:"Maybe the show will keep going until we're really wrinkly"

Sophie:  "I'd like to play Ada Shelby as a granny! That'd be really cool. We could all come back to it in forty years. Imagine if Ada or Lizzie were your granny with the stories that they could tell. That's a show I want to watch. We'll be Maggie Smith and Judy Dench!"

If they keep going the way they are then a damehood in the future is more than a distinct possibility. Coming to a screen near you (not very soon and if you're alive) - the Peaky Blinders 2059 reboot. So, who is going to be the first to Faceapp Ada and Lizzie for the promotional poster?



Peaky Blinders Returns Sunday 25th August at 9.00pm on BBC One. 

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