There are currently two quality TV shows set in 1920's Britain, one is Tea & Biscuits: comforting and relaxing, the other is Beer & Cigarettes: sensory and grimy. I'm talking about Downton Abbey and the wonderful Peaky Blinders.
The Midlands has probably been most notable, televisually, for Crossroads but there was an unsung Midlands TV show that was ahead of it's time: Gangsters, a modern day set story of the criminal underworld of Birmingham. Peaky Blinders takes us into the same territory but the setting is that of a post WWI Britain where many men did not return from foreign fields.
The cast are excellent as is the dialogue and the superb production values. It's almost Victorian industrial in it's look with shades of Lynch's Elephant Man along side the Gray glamour of the upwardly mobile protagonist Shelby family.
Cillian Murphy is particularly good as the cold and calculating leader of the Peaky Blinders, his ruthlessness offset by a dead eyed charm and Sam Neill plays a villain just the right side of moustache twirling. Strong women characters that are often merely cyphers in Gangster movies are notable by their presence and youth has its day in the casting. The use of contemporary music alongside strong sound design gives the show a unique feel as does the superlative costume design: from Haircuts to Boots the entourage cut a dash in the grim landscape.
Peaky Blinders has entered it's second series and I hope that it does not go the way of Ripper Street, that period piece that BBC audiences never quite took to, as it has more than enough facets to hook a variety of viewers.
If you've not seen it do yourself a favour and have a couple of nights in with the first series and catch the first 2 episodes of the new series on iPlayer: you won't be disappointed.