• BBC drama Peaky Blinders reaches a global audience and has inspired everything from baby-names to ballet   

  • Experts and academics agree the show has helped transform Birmingham’s image 

  • The show has increased tourism to the West Midlands and helped attract more film and TV productions  

  • Sixth and final series airs on BBC One on Sunday  

BBC drama Peaky Blinders has transformed the image of Birmingham and helped make the city a centre for creativity, TV and film production, and a tourist hotspot.

That’s the view of experts and academics on the lasting legacy of Peaky Blinders, from Caryn Mandabach Productions, co-produced with Tiger Aspect Productions, as the BBC prepares to broadcast the sixth and final series of the show this Sunday (February 27).   

Figures show Peaky Blinders has helped draw a record number of visitors to Birmingham as well as inspiring theme nights, tours, and street art.

Character names from the show have proved popular with new parents and a contemporary dance inspired by Peaky Blinders will form part of the cultural programme alongside the Commonwealth Games to be held in Birmingham later this year.

The Games’ official merchandise features the Peaky Blinders cap and the creative chief of the event says Peaky Blinders is also likely to feature during the games ceremonies.   

The show, created by Steven Knight, launched in 2013 and follows the Shelby family, who led the infamous Peaky Blinders gang. It’s become one of the BBC’s most popular dramas and is shown around the world with famous fans that include Julia Roberts, Tom Cruise, and Stephen Spielberg.

In 2018, a record 131million people visited the West Midlands, which the West Midlands Growth Company attributed in part to the “Peaky effect”.

Steven Knight is working on a new contemporary dance production that will be staged at the Birmingham Hippodrome in September as part of Birmingham 2022 festival. There are also plans for a Peaky Blinders film to be produced in Birmingham. 

Steven is also building a new film and TV studio in Digbeth. The BBC announced on Friday February 18 that hit show MasterChef will be made at the studios from 2024. 

That continues a trend that’s seen major productions choosing to film in the West Midlands including Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, American Assassin, and Mission: Impossible 7.  

Peaky Blinders has even inspired baby-names with Ada and Arthur growing in popularity with new parents since the series started, according to official figures.

Martin Green is chief creative officer of Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022 and was previously head of ceremonies for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and chief executive of Hull UK City of Culture 2017. He said: “We have an absolutely direct line from the show to the cultural elevation of Birmingham in the UK and around the world.

“Along with the new HS2 rail line and the fact we have so many talented people here, which we will show off with the Commonwealth Games, you’ve essentially got the most perfect storm of creativity going on here in Birmingham. You could easily make the argument that Peaky Blinders was the catalyst for that. 
“We will be premiering Ballet Rambert’s Peaky Blinders contemporary dance as part of the Birmingham 2022 festival at the end of the September and Steven Knight is the executive producer of the opening and closing ceremonies, so there will be a little flavour of it running through the Commonwealth Games I’m sure.” 

Jemma Saunders is a doctoral researcher at the University of Birmingham and is studying the cultural impact of Peaky Blinders. She said: “As the buzz around Peaky Blinders has grown, the pride in Birmingham as a place where stories can come from has grown. That for me is the real positive impact it’s had – there are so many great stories here, whether factual or drama, but Peaky Blinders has shown what great story tellers there are and that more of them can be brought to life in Birmingham.”  

Director-General of the BBC Tim Davie said: “We’re really proud that Peaky Blinders has proved so popular and even more so that it has had such a transformative impact on Birmingham and the wider West Midlands. It demonstrates the power of great content and the role the creative sector plays in the wider economy."

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Peaky Blinders has helped to tell the Birmingham story on the global stage, and it really is incredibly exciting that this hit show will be back on our screens this weekend.

“The vote of confidence Steven Knight has given our region has been very much seconded by the BBC, with the renewed major commitment signed between the Director General and I set to transform the organisation’s presence in the West Midlands – starting with the relocation of flagship show MasterChef.

“We firmly believe this is just the beginning of what looks set to be a golden era of film and television in the West Midlands, and I look forward to this partnership with the BBC turbo-charging our region’s creative sector, helping to create thousands of opportunities for local residents.”

Peaky Blinders returns to BBC One and iPlayer on Sunday (February 27) for its sixth and final series. Series 1-5 are available to watch now on BBC iPlayer. A premiere of the first episode in the series will be held tonight (Thursday February 24) in Birmingham. Fifty thousand people applied for tickets to attend.

The BBC has committed to doing even more right across the country. In March 2021, it announced the Across the UK plan; the biggest transformation of the BBC in decades; moving commissioning power, production and investment out of London. In Birmingham, the BBC has entered into a long-term partnership with Create Central and the West Midlands Combined Authority to strengthen production in the region and has already announced moving MasterChef, Radio 1’s Newsbeat and the Asian Network to the city and an Apprentice Hub has been launched.




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