When Does Peaky Blinders Take Place?

Last Updated: October 25th, 2023 by Kerry Wisby (Teacher-BA English Literature, 1920s & Great Gatsby Expert)

Peaky Blinders, those bloody good-looking guys and gals, is one of the most popular shows on Netflix right now. In fact, this series by creator Steven Knight is so popular that there is going to be a movie produced about the Shelby family very soon.

peaky blinders netflix series

Even if you haven’t watched a single episode, chances are you’ve seen the blue-eyed Thomas Shelby or the bowtie-wearing Arthur Shelby in memes on social media sites or on Pinterest.

You might have some questions about this England-based series, and you know me, I’ve got the answers!

What Is the Timeline of the Peaky Blinders?

Peaky Blinders Poster 2013 showing main characters
Promo poster for the show “Peaky Blinders” 2013 by Tyler Hale

The timeline of Peaky Blinders spans the years 1919 to 1933.

The First Season

The first season of the show takes place in 1919, just after the end of the First World War.

The Shelby family, a small-time street gang led by Tommy Shelby (played brilliantly by Cillian Murphy), are trying to make a name for themselves in the criminal underworld of Birmingham. They are soon involved in a power struggle with rival gangs, including the Billy Boys, led by Billy Kimber. The Shelbys eventually emerge victorious, becoming the most powerful local gang called the Peaky Blinders.

The Second Season

The Peaky Blinders Season 2 of the show takes place in 1921. The Shelby business has expanded its operations to London and is now involved in bootlegging and other illegal activities. The Shelby brothers also face new challenges, including the rise of the IRA and the threat of fascism.

The Third Season

The third season of the show takes place in 1924. The Shelbys are now at the height of their power but are also facing new enemies. The Peaky Blinders are at odds with the Economic League led by Father John Hughes and an Italian crime family led by Luca Changretta.

Changretta (played by Adrien Brody) ends up being killed, but you’ll wish he hadn’t. Tommy is also struggling with his own demons, including his PTSD from the war and his grief over the death of his wife Grace.

The Fouth Season

The fourth season of the show takes place in 1926. The Shelbys are now involved in the political arena, and Tommy is running for Parliament. He is also facing a new threat, Oswald Mosley, a British politician who is rising to prominence in the fascist movement. John Shelby dies in this season.

The Fifth Season

The fifth season of the show takes place in 1929. The Shelbys are now facing the Great Depression and dealing with the aftermath of the Wall Street Crash. Tommy is also trying to stop Mosley from rising to power.

The Sixth Season and Final Season 😢

The sixth and final season of Peaky Blinders is set in 1933. The Shelbys face the threat of World War II, with Tommy preparing for the inevitable conflict. He is also trying to come to terms with his own mortality after discovering that he has an inoperable brain tumor.

Is Peaky Blinders Accurate to the Time Period?

The Peaky Blinders men led by Thomas Shelby
Image Flickr Creative Commons –Terry Kearney

The storyline of Peaky Blinders is not entirely accurate. For example, the show portrays the Peaky Blinders as being more powerful and influential than they actually were.

For the most part, however, yes, it is. The show does a good job of capturing the spirit of the time period and provides a fascinating look at the world of gangs, the fashion of the times, and organized crime in the early 20th century.

The opening of the series makes a show about the disposable razor blades in the Peaky Blinder hats or “peakies” (what the English call newsboy caps). However, the truth is that disposable razor blades were not readily available until the 1930s, but one can argue that the Peaky Blinders used sharp metal pieces that cut like a razor blade.

Peaky Blinders is a fictional story based on a real gang, but it does take some liberties, if you will, with historical accuracy. The show is set in Birmingham, England in the 1920s and follows the Shelby family. The Shelbys are based on a real gang of the same name, who were active in Birmingham in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Peaky Blinders: A Fictional Story Based on a Real Gang

However, the show takes some creative liberties with the history of the gang. For example, the Shelbys are shown to be involved in bootlegging and other illegal activities during the Prohibition era, but there is no evidence that the real Peaky Blinders were involved in these kinds of activities.

Despite these inaccuracies, Peaky Blinders is still a fascinating and entertaining show that provides a glimpse into the world of gangs and organized crime in the early 20th century. The show’s stylish costumes, gritty atmosphere, and complex characters have made it a hit with audiences around the world.

Historical Accuracy in Peaky Blinders: What the Show Gets Right

Here are some of the things that Peaky Blinders gets right about the time period:

  • The show accurately depicts the poverty and crime that was rampant in Birmingham in the 1920s.
  • The show captures the fashion and culture of the era, including the Peaky Blinders’ signature hats and suits.
  • The show features some real-life historical figures, such as Winston Churchill and Oswald Mosley.

Here are some of the things that Peaky Blinders gets wrong about the time period:

  • The show exaggerates the power and influence of the Peaky Blinders.
  • The show portrays the Peaky Blinders as being more sophisticated and cultured than they actually were.
  • The show’s depiction of violence is often graphic and gratuitous.

Overall, Peaky Blinders is a well-made and entertaining show that is well-worth watching, but it is important to keep in mind that it is not entirely historically accurate.

What Ethnicity Are the Shelbys?

Peaky Blinders - key characteristics of the Irish-Romani

Thomas Shelby and his kin are Irish-Romani Gypsies, a unique cultural and ethnic group present in Britain since the 1500s.

Some of the key characteristics of the Irish-Romani people:

  • They are nomadic people who have a strong sense of community.
  • They speak a unique language called Romani.
  • They have a rich culture that includes music, dance, and storytelling.
  • They have faced discrimination and persecution throughout history.

The Irish-Romani people are a fascinating and resilient group, and they have made a significant contribution to British society. The Shelbys in Peaky Blinders are a fictionalized representation of this group, but they capture many of the same characteristics and challenges.

The real Peaky Blinders gang had a wide range of ethnicities in their group, including many Romani Gypsies. The real Peaky Blinders Gypsies came from an area known as The Black Patch (near modern-day Smethwick).

Were the Real Peaky Blinders Just as Savage?

some members of the real peaky blinders gang

Image Credit Flickr Creative Commons – Mike

The short answer here is yes, pretty much, they were.

While the rich and powerful may have been heading to lavish parties and speakeasies, times for the majority of people, both in England and the US, were pretty harsh for the poor.

The real Peaky Blinders were poor, working-class folks who resorted to violent crimes to earn their cash, including robbery, racketeering, and mugging people in broad daylight.

While the series tries to make the Shelbys look like a Roaring 20s Robin Hood, watching out for the poor in their neighborhood, the real Peaky Blinders gang were pickpockets who didn’t mind robbing their own.

Before You Go ….

While the real Peaky Blinders gang didn’t have a Shelby family, or even a family business, the show has enough real-life, accurate aspects to it that makes it a pleasure to watch.

Be sure to check out the very authentic clothing styles, both worn by the Shelby men and women.

Peaky Blinders is a very accurate series set in 1920s/early 1930s England that includes some real-life people from the era, including Billy Kimber, Winston Churchill, and Oswald Mosely.

If you like this article you might also like to read: Does Tommy Die in the Peaky Blinders Final Season?

When Does Peaky Blinders Take Place?
When Does Peaky Blinders Take Place?
Where and when does Peaky Blinders take place? Discover the complete timeline of this popular show and what you should know about Thomas Shelby.
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