Peaky Blinders season 4 - all you need to know

Tom Eames, Morgan Jeffery
Photo credit: MCPIX/Mark Campbell

From Digital Spy

The third season of Peaky Blinders ended on an almighty cliffhanger after a shock twist that saw Cillian Murphy's Tommy Shelby reveal that the family were to be arrested. Surely not?

Thankfully, we're not only going to be heading back to Birmingham for a fourth season, but also a fifth.

While we wait impatiently, here's everything you need to know so far about the next couple of seasons:

Peaky Blinders season 4 release date - when will it return?

The new series begins on Wednesday, November 15 at 9pm on BBC Two.

BBC Two renewed the Steven Knight-created crime drama just before the end of its third season in May 2016.

Cillian Murphy confirmed at the start of this year that Peaky Blinders series four would start shooting in March.

Photo credit: Caryn Mandabach Productions Ltd & Tiger Aspect Productions Ltd 2016

The last series finished shooting back in January 2016 and screened at the start of May, suggesting that the new series could be with us in the last quarter of 2017.

"I'm very, very excited because I'm just completing episode six of series four, which again I think is the best yet," he said. "I'm loving it and it's not like work, it's not like a labour.

"I love doing it, and the boys are coming back and they're loving the scripts, and we start shooting in March."

Photo credit: Vantage News

Sure enough, filming shots began to emerge in March - revealing what happens next for the Shelbys after that cliffhanger.

It looks like Tommy is back with a vengeance, too - opening fire on the streets of Brum in explosive new images.

Photo credit: MCPIX/Mark Campbell

Filming on the fourth series officially wrapped three months later, on June 10, with director David Caffrey (Line of Duty, Prime Suspect 1973) confirmed as being behind the camera.

Knight will write all of the episodes - with series four once again expected to span six episodes. We're expecting it to follow on Netflix in the US.

Cillian Murphy announced the show's renewal by saying: "Tommy Shelby is one of the most intense, challenging characters I've had the opportunity to play.

"I'm particularly grateful that Steven's original, dynamic writing and the long form series allow me to explore Tommy in depth. I very much look forward to Tommy's evolution over the next two chapters."

Knight added: "I am genuinely thrilled at the response to the third series of the show. The prospect of writing series four and five is truly exciting.

"This is a real passion project for me and I look forward to telling more stories of the Shelby family."

Photo credit: Vantage News

Peaky Blinders series 4 trailer: Is there any footage?

Yes! The first official trailer for series four dropped in late September, with the Shelbys in dire peril and Aunt Polly (Helen McCrory) apparently facing death by hanging. "They're coming for us all," warns Tommy. "We don't get to decide who lives or dies."

You can also watch the opening to series 4, episode 1 below, in which the jailed Shelbys are led to the noose. Are they for it?

In another episode 1 sneak peek, real-life figure Jessie Eden (a radical 1920s firebrand played here by Charlie Murphy) arrives for a meeting with Tommy.

Peaky Blinders cast - who will appear?

There are few details about the full cast of season 4 and 5 so far, but we're expecting all the regulars to return.

These include not only Cillian Murphy but Helen McCrory as Polly, Paul Anderson as Arthur, Sophie Rundle as Ada, Joe Cole as John - and, of course, Tom Hardy as mad, bad and dangerous-to-know Alfie Solomons.

"Of course [he'll be back] – we can't do it without Alfie," said writer Knight.

Photo credit: BBC/Caryn Mandabach/Robert Viglasky

Knight later confirmed that Hardy is "a big part" of the new series, adding, "Once again, he's going to be a friend and an enemy. You can't trust him, but you can trust him to behave like Alfie Solomons!"

Hardy is expected to return as Alfie in series 4, episode 4, and Knight warned he "has quite a bumpy road ahead of him".

Charlotte Riley will also reprise her role of aristocratic widow May Carleton - last seen in series two - and was snapped on-set with Cillian Murphy in May, 2017.

Photo credit: FameFlynet
Photo credit: FameFlynet

There'll be a couple of high-profile new additions. Adrien Brody - yes, actual Oscar winner Adrien Brody - will join Peaky Blinders in a part written especially for him, a character described as the biggest threat yet to the Shelby clan.

Photo credit: BBC/Caryn Mandabach Productions/Tiger Aspect Drama/Robert Viglasky

Aiden Gillen - Littlefinger off of Game of Thrones - is also on board, playing another new character: Aberama Gold, a hard-nut gypsy who is said to be an uneasy ally of Tommy Shelby.

Photo credit: FameFlynet

Both Aberama and his son, Bonnie the champion boxer, will apparently survive the events of the fourth series, as it's already been confirmed that both characters will appear in the following fifth run too.

Playing Bonnie is Jack Rowan - the rising star seen in Channel 4's Born to Kill- who told Digital Spy that he's "over the moon" to have joined the cast.

Cherrelle Skeete and Esther Smith have also both been cast in supporting roles. Both are known for performing in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

One face not returning is Alexander Siddig, who played Aunt Polly's love interest – the artist Ruben Oliver – in the previous third series.

"They have a way of moving on, three years or something, every time they start a new season," Siddig told Digital Spy. "As far as I know I'm not involved."

What will happen next?

The new season will pick up six months after we last saw the Shelby family, and the gangsters are out of prison and running the streets once again.

According to a tease from the BBC, series four opens with Tommy receiving a mysterious letter on Christmas Eve which tells him that the Peaky Blinders are in "danger of annihilation".

"As the enemy closes in, Shelby flees his country house and returns to the streets of Small Heath, Birmingham where a fight for survival begins…."

The threat pursuing the Shelbys? The actual Mafia, led by Brody's big boss. "That was the idea, to put them under the greatest threat that they've ever been," Cillian Murphy said. "It's the Mafia – you can't really get bigger than that – and I think Tommy recognises that this is a different level. Obviously, there's going to be a showdown at some point!"

Related: Peaky Blinders series 4: All-out war between the Shelbys and the mafia teased by star Helen McCrory

Murphy has also teased season four by saying that "everything has changed" after last year's finale.

In a BBC interview, Murphy addressed Tommy's future relationship with his family in the next season.

"I think his family think that he's betrayed them, and it will be up to Tommy to demonstrate to them that he hasn't betrayed them, and that he has a bigger plan," he said.

"The question is what that bigger plan is. Who is he going to call? What's going to happen to the family? Can he ever get that level of trust or love back again?"

The stylish key art for the new season shows the Shelbys united, so it looks as though Tommy will somehow earn their trust and loyalty back. "It's still all complicated and messed up," Murphy explained. "It's only this thing that happens, this situation, that demands that they have to come back together."

Photo credit: BBC

Of what's next for Tommy after reassembling his clan, Murphy said: "I think he will never stop. Because of what happened to him in the First World War, I think it's never going to stop. He'll just always be this man searching for something.

"I think that even if he achieved all this material wealth and he achieves some sort of position of power… I don't see him retiring with a pipe and slippers, that's for sure."

Photo credit: Vantage News

Peaky Blinders series 5: Will that be the end?

"Peaky is now a beast that will not die," said Knight. Confirming that ending the show after its fifth run had "long been" the plan, he's admitted that, fortunately for us, the show's popularity probably won't allow it to.

"The momentum and love for the thing seems to still be growing exponentially and this is making us pause before deciding finally," he explained.

So, it sounds like Steven's up for it – but what about its leading man Murphy? "Listen, you know Steve has so many ideas, he's so inventive, I wouldn't be surprised [if it continued]," he said. " For me, I've always said as long as the writing stays as good as it is, I'm around."

Excellent news.

Photo credit: BBC/Caryn Mandabach/Robert Viglasky

That's not to say Knight isn't hedging his bets, though. He's revealed that the climax to Peaky's fifth series will give "some sort of closure" but that the show "may go beyond that".

"We're all thinking that five will be the last one, but it's not set in stone. I don't want to be a hostage to that.

"I mean, I always hope we will get more. For all we know, we may even go beyond that. But for the moment, I'm pacing so that the next 12 hours will tell the rest of the story. I hope that, at the end of episode 6 of series 4, there will be a big surprise which will fire us off into series 5."

But given that series 4 is still set in the mid-to-late 1920s, how does this chime with Knight's plan to end the show at the dawn of World War II in 1939?

Photo credit: BBC/Caryn Mandabach/Robert Viglasky

Paul Anderson, who plays Arthur Shelby in the series, told us: "I don't know if we can wrap it up in one more season. I think we're in '26, '28? And so the Second World War is not for a little while yet. I don't think six episodes is enough to get us there.

"I had this conversation with Cillian [Murphy, who plays Tommy Shelby] about one more season, and we both agreed: listen, if that's it, then yeah, for sure. But it might take two more. I've got a feeling it might take two more."

Reflected: Paul Anderson reflects on life as Peaky Blinders' Arthur f**king Shelby: "I do get a lot of love"

So could a sixth series be on the cards after all? Maybe, maybe not. Knight also indicated that, if series five were to be the last, the final episode could feature a time jump ahead to 1939.

"I know what [year] I end in, but that doesn't necessarily mean that series 5 will take place in or around that year," he said. "I'm thinking that there's a way of resolving the story in a certain year, and then fast-forwarding to where it's going to end."

Peaky Blinders movie: Could it happen?

Series creator Steven Knight and executive producer Caryn Mandabach previously told Digital Spy that there had been discussions about a possible film spin-off - but would series star Cillian Murphy be up for moving it to the big screen?

Speaking to Deadline about the prospect, Murphy said: "I'm sort of ambivalent about it. I'm sort of like, 'Eh, yeah, I don't know, I'm not sure'.

"I love the idea sort of theoretically, but it has to come at the right time, you know? You can't alienate the beautiful democratic thing of television where everyone just watches it," he added.

Photo credit: BBC/Caryn Mandabach/Robert Viglasky

"Cinema is trickier because you gotta pay your $10, you gotta leave the kids at home. You've got to do all of that, so it's different and also you have to compress the story into probably just an event rather than the whole arc that we've normally been doing."

The actor summed up: "It's kind of a sexy idea, but I'll reserve judgement until the idea is presented to me."

He later touched upon the topic again, telling Esquire: "I think Steve [Knight] has some ideas. You'd have to be careful, but I'd be curious to do it."

In November 2017, Knight confirmed that a Peaky movie was "probably" going to happen, with Murphy reiterating that he's up it "in theory, absolutely".

"If the writing's as good as it is for the show, then for sure, yeah," he said - though his co-star Paul Anderson has admitted that the troubled history of previous TV-to-film translations concerns him.

Photo credit: BBC/Caryn Mandabach/Robert Viglasky

"I don't know if a Peaky Blinders film would work, or can work. Maybe when it's sort of done, then maybe a movie? There is talk of it, and if I believed in the script enough, and thought it could work, then why not? But like I say, there's very few TV shows that do that. You wouldn't want to end a good TV series with a bad movie."

Besides, the lines between TV and film are blurring when Oscar winners are appearing in the small-screen version of Peaky Blinders, with Knight admitting it's "tempting" to cast Hollywood super-fans like Samuel L Jackson and Julia Roberts in the show.

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