Peaky Blinders (2013–2022)

I finished watching arguably the best British drama in decades, Peaky Blinders (2013–2022). For me it should be the gold standard for future British television, the high bar other productions measure themselves against.

The shows strength hangs entirely on Steven Knight’s writing. Its power is in the myths he creates, they go beyond simple dramatisation, and into the wider cultural mind. A shiny example of John Ford’s maxim, from his western The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), “when the legend becomes fact, print the legend”.

While the thirty-sixth episode is supposed to the last we see of the Shelby clan, I’m not convinced it’s the end. There’s too much story left to be told, much more mythology to be created.

Knight has said in interview, he has a vision of Sir Thomas Shelby standing on the steps of the House of Lords, as waves of bombers fill the sky above him, all heading off to fight Hitler’s Germany.

That’s too good an image not to be used, and the final episode leaves way too many loose ends for this to be it. There’s Duke and Finn, Tommy’s infant son and Ada as an MP.

I for one want to see Sir Tommy take on and foul Mosley’s ambitions.

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Eastern Promises (2007) by Steven Knight

Knight’s writing is dense. His descriptions weighty, full of intention. The dialogue follows the same template, functional and to the point. There’s one plot element that has always bothered me. The revelation that Nikolai is an undercover policeman. If we were made aware of this fact earlier in the plot it would provided another level of jeopardy to Nikolai’s story. As it stands it comes as explanation, the reason why he helps Anna. I understand this might’ve changed the emphasis of the story, but it could’ve made him more active. Just a thought.

A Christmas Carol (2019)

Steven Knight gives us a sublime interpretation of this classic story. He brings an emotional depth that’s lacking from previous versions. While other adaptations interpret events and actions, Knight gives us psychological profile of Scrooge. All of the naysayers should read the original. The story of A Christmas Carol may be our current embodiment of Christmas, but it was once a ghost story about human frailty. It’s perhaps a sign of the times that we realise Scrooge learned his behaviour from years of abuse, but this time, he’s ready to give up his wealth in a way historical versions were not.

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