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Friday, 9 August 2019

Interviews: Our chat with Peaky Blinders star Helen McCrory

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 the day of the Peaky Blinders series 5 launch in London. Before the screening, we gather to chat with the cast. Helen McCrory bounds in after the designated meeting time "I'm so sorry I'm late! I was being interviewed". She takes a look around her "He's not here now so I can blame him!"

Where do we find Polly at the beginning of the series?

"It starts with the crash and they lose a lot of money very very quickly and she's back on the streets- not literally! You see her enjoying all the luxuries and then you see her realising she doesn't have any left.

How does the relationship between Polly and Tommy progress? Does she still not approve of his ways?

"I think she's very encouraging of Tommy's philanthropy. She'll always be on his side but for the first time, the son and Tommy become much more divided so she's in the middle.

What's in store for Tommy?

"Tommy has, for the first time, access to the world of journalism where they're allowed to talk about people's private lives. there's also the whole idea of can somebody escape their past? Can a bad person become a good person? Can you have a good act by a bad man?"

How does Tommy's new career in politics affect family dynamics?

"What Steven (Knight) starts to explore is how much Tommy uses politics as a commodity, just as he used to deal with horses and then booze. The information can be bought and sold and information is a way of getting what you want whether it's blackmailing or trading. It's just another form in which you hustle."

Is Polly still connected to the spirit world? 

"That continues to be part of Polly, that sort of quasi psychic thing. She just has good instinct, it's that streetwise thing isn't it? She believes it. I think at the beginning Steven wrote the first scene like he wasn't quite sure she was psychic but because I came in all 'Yes, she obviously is' he went 'Yes, she obviously is. You're mad. She's mad. There you go!'" 

BBC/Caryn Mandabach Productions Ltd./Ben Blackall
It's wonderful to report that Helen has all the presence of Polly Shelby but none of the menace. That is replaced by a wicked sense of humour and fierce intellect. You feel like you're in the presence of someone powerful. But what of Polly's vulnerabilities? Her fears went awol in series four.

"The biggest fear is still leaving Michael behind. Fear of death is not death itself, if you're going to fear death then that's a pretty fucking losing battle you've got on that one! That's the one thing that is going to happen. Your fear is your children's lives without you"

Polly and Michael have always been a fraught pairing. Does that continue?

"She's always trying to protect Michael. He's greedy in a way that Polly isn't. Polly doesn't really care about the trappings, she wants the family to be together and safe as you can be when you're carrying razors around with you! So there's a tension with her son. She's lost the battle with Michael but hopes he doesn't get caught with blood on his hands.

Peaky always has great guest stars. What can you tell us about the guests in series five? 

I have one special scene with Sam (Claflin) and he's really fucking good. As Polly, I got to watch him do something and I was really impressed with the clever choices. Because of who he's playing it's all got to be totally fictional because it's a litigious hell if you did anything that was vaguely truthful. You just can't be" 

Celebrities are also proud to be part of the Peaky fandom too.

"It's such a cacophony of people who have nothing in common! You've got Julia Roberts and Snoop Dog! I heard the other day about the demographics, it turns out more women watch Peaky than men which is really interesting because it's boys with guns. 

What do you make of the public's reaction to the show? The fashion and music in particular.

"It's fantastic! The move to BBC1 is interesting because I'm really loyal to BBC2. I thought they took such a punt on it. You can't compare it to anything else. The music is so opposite to the visuals that you're seeing. You hear Nick Cave in a completely different way than if it's him standing in a tortured pose in a music video. And you're used to seeing somebody in flat caps with the Hovis music! It's such a contrast"

With that, Helen is whisked away, this time on schedule and to no doubt cause mischief somewhere else. It's been a pleasure.



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



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