Unmissable Peaky-time viewing as stellar Cillian plays a Blinder: CLAUDIA CONNELL reviews the weekend's TV

Peaky Blinders

Rating:

Tories At War

Rating:

Resurrecting characters everyone assumed were dead has been a recurring theme in Peaky Blinders (BBC1, Sunday).

Linda Shelby looked to be a goner earlier in the series, Arthur Shelby faked his own death long ago, and while Grace Shelby may actually be dead, her ghost has appeared almost as often as the flesh-and-blood version.

But last night, as this fifth season reached its finale, Tom Hardy made a dramatic return as Alfie Solomons, the Jewish gang leader with a violent streak and witty banter who was supposedly assassinated by Tommy Shelby at the end of series four.

Peaky Blinders has been one of the best dramas the BBC has produced in recent years and, for all the suspension of disbelief it demands of the viewer, the finale was still brilliantly exhilarating

Peaky Blinders has been one of the best dramas the BBC has produced in recent years and, for all the suspension of disbelief it demands of the viewer, the finale was still brilliantly exhilarating

Tommy’s failure to finish off Solomons was yet another sign that the gang leader was losing his grip over his criminal empire.

His hand shook when called on to shoot a ‘snitch’ barman at The Garrison, their Birmingham pub base, while his nephew Michael launched a bid to become head of the operation.

Michael wanted the Peaky Blinders to be big-time opium traders and urged Tommy to step down, saying: ‘Americans don’t want to deal with an old-fashioned, back-street razor gang.’

At the centre of the action was Tommy’s plan to assassinate the fascist leader Oswald Mosley (a spellbinding performance from Sam Claflin). 

Linda Shelby looked to be a goner earlier in the series, Arthur Shelby faked his own death long ago, and while Grace Shelby may actually be dead, her ghost has appeared almost as often as the flesh-and-blood version

Linda Shelby looked to be a goner earlier in the series, Arthur Shelby faked his own death long ago, and while Grace Shelby may actually be dead, her ghost has appeared almost as often as the flesh-and-blood version

And perhaps that plot line was the fatal flaw because unless writer Steven Knight planned to go seriously off-road, the viewer knew assassination was not how Mosley met his end.

Tommy broke one of his former Army sniper comrades out of a lunatic asylum in order to assassinate Mosley at a political rally — apparently with the full support of his new chum, Winston Churchill.

‘Do what you have to do, and if you need anything call me,’ said the great cigar-chomping leader.

Suffice to say the assassination attempt did not go to plan and an increasingly isolated and tortured Tommy finished the programme alone in a field, a gun to his head, urged to pull the trigger by the ghost of his dead wife.

Perhaps that plot line was the fatal flaw because unless writer Steven Knight planned to go seriously off-road, the viewer knew assassination was not how Mosley met his end

Perhaps that plot line was the fatal flaw because unless writer Steven Knight planned to go seriously off-road, the viewer knew assassination was not how Mosley met his end

Peaky Blinders has been one of the best dramas the BBC has produced in recent years and, for all the suspension of disbelief it demands of the viewer, the finale was still brilliantly exhilarating.

But here’s the problem: we know a new series has been commissioned and how likely is it that Peaky Blinders could return without the mesmerising Cillian Murphy as Tommy?

The drama was very much real in Tories At War (C4, Sunday). Filmed over the course of nine months, it took a behind-the-scenes look at Conservative Party mudslinging over Brexit.

And what a potty-mouthed bunch they were, with Remainers in the party launching a string of four-letter-word attacks on their party rivals.

‘Who the f*** do they think they are?’ said former Foreign Office minister Alan Duncan of the pro-Brexit European Research Group.

Munching on a sandwich, he declared that he would better enjoy his lunch before ‘all the lettuce gets blocked at Calais’. 

Matching him for profanity was former Tory Anna Soubry.

Early in the documentary both she and Duncan confidently predicted that Boris Johnson would never be leader.

‘What you’re watching is the slow death of the most successful political party in democratic history,’ lamented Duncan as the leadership battle got under way after Theresa May’s resignation.

‘Don’t we need someone who’s reached puberty?’ acidly observed Leaver MP Andrew Bridgen of failed candidate Matt Hancock.

With that lot of backstabbers, who needs political dramas like House Of Cards?

 

Poser of the weekend: We were ‘treated’ to a host of celebrity versions of quiz shows — Mastermind, Pointless, Catchphrase and The Chase. 

My starter for ten: was this because there were no members of the public left to take part?

Matching him for profanity was former Tory Anna Soubry. Early in the documentary both she and Duncan confidently predicted that Boris Johnson would never be leader

Matching him for profanity was former Tory Anna Soubry. Early in the documentary both she and Duncan confidently predicted that Boris Johnson would never be leader

Stellar Cillian plays a Blinder: CLAUDIA CONNELL reviews the weekend's TV 

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