EXCLUSIVE: Season 4 of Peaky Blinders was the period gangster epic’s highest-rated ever and BBC Two’s most-watched drama of 2017. Today, the saga of the Shelby clan scored five nominations from the BAFTA TV Craft Awards, including a first-ever nod for creator/writer Steven Knight in the Drama Writing category. When I reached Knight this morning, the 2004 Oscar nominee for his original Dirty Pretty Things screenplay, was surprised — and thoughtful about the show’s fans, and his heroes.
“That’s great, fantastic news! I genuinely did not know,” he said. Peaky has a devoted worldwide fan base, but has not clicked over with the major awards bodies. Its first season took six BAFTA Craft nominations with two wins, for Directing and Photography & Lighting. Season 2 was nominated for a Best Drama Series BAFTA and three Craft prizes, but came up empty. Season 3 had no nominations. The show, which airs on Netflix in the U.S., has never been recognized at the Emmys.
Knight told me, “Awards come and go, and the greatest reward has been the fans’ response and the people who are my heroes who watch and love the show. This is fantastic.” Those heroes include such Peaky fans as the late Leonard Cohen and David Bowie, as well as British footballer David Beckham and rapper Snoop Dogg.
Peaky, which stars Cillian Murphy, Paul Anderson and Helen McCrory, is made by Caryn Mandabach Productions and Tiger Aspect. Exec Producer Mandabach told me this morning of Knight’s nomination, “I have truly long believed he’s the best writer working today, and he’s most deserving of this nomination.”
Season 4 saw the Shelbys move back to Birmingham’s Small Heath as they fought their greatest enemy ever, the New York mafia. Newly featuring were Adrien Brody, Aidan Gillen and Charlie Murphy. Charlotte Riley and Tom Hardy also returned for some episodes.
The season was embraced by a younger audience with each episode receiving more than 1M requests on BBC iPlayer in the seven days after broadcast. Nearly 60% of the audience was under 35.
The show returns for a 5th season in 2019, while talk continues about a West End musical and a movie. In the meantime, Knight is finishing the edit of his feature Serenity, starring Anne Hathaway and Matthew McConaughey and is looking forward to the U.S. premiere at Tribeca of Woman Walks Ahead, which he wrote. He’s also hard at work on See, the epic, world-building future-set drama that received a straight-to-series order from Apple in January, and which he calls “vast and wonderful.”
Peaky‘s other BAFTA TV Craft nominations today include for Costume Design, Editing, Make Up & Hair Design and Sound: Fiction. Knight’s also got his other period series, Taboo, up for six nominations, in Costume Design, Make Up & Hair Design, Original Music, Photography & Lighting: Fiction, Sound: Fiction and Special and Visual & Graphic Effects. The awards ceremony will be held on April 22 in London.