So it's rather satisfying to see Birmingham featuring in a BBC costume drama and being sold as itself. Noisy, grimy, rough, tough and with that unmistakable Midland's twang that I grew up with. Not that Leamington Spa has much of an accent. Compared to the true son of Birmingham, the Leamingtonian accent is rather poesh and nice (as opposed to "push" and "noice").
Peaky Blinders kicked off last week and is the fictionalized account of the Shelby's, a gang of Birmingham crims who held sway in the city just after the finish of the first World War. I daresay the writer's have taken numerous liberties but I am not in a position to point out any factual inaccuracies as yet; I'll leave that to the numerous "Brum" academics who'll not be shy in voicing their complaints as and when any Birmingham based misinformation hits the slagheap.
Knowing parts of Birmingham well and others not at all I can at least say that there is a clever mix of real location and CGI that brings 1920's Birmingham to life; not to mention heavy use of the canal yard at The Black Country Museum. The accents, for those of is the know, sometimes veer from the true Birmingham "yam", but on the whole hold true. The actor with the toughest accent to crack is Sam Neil as Chief Inspector Campbell who has nailed his oracular flag to the mast of the Reverend Ian Paisley. Sometimes it jars but the script is cracking enough that you overlook the occasional dip into Walt Disney Oirish.
The star of the show is Cillian Murphy as Thomas Shelby (or Tommoi as he is referred to in our house), the leader of the Shelbys. The Peaky Blinders were so named for the razorblades they concealed in the peaks of their cloth caps that were then transformed into slashing weapons in a fight... but in truth Cillian Murphy could cut a man wide open with his cheekbones alone. He's a powerful presence on the screen and exudes an air of calm, urbane, gentlemanly violence that is somehow the more brutal for being measured and calculated. Helen McCrory too is a strong backbone to the rest of the cast and manages to slum her vowels into Birmingham's street talk with aplomb.
The show has everything; horses and bet rigging, stolen army munitions, pub fights, gypsy warfare, blood, sex, cheekbones and exortations not to "larf at moi bruvva." And best of all it is bigging up Birmingham.
The city up the road from me has a history that is just as magnificent and nasty as the one to the south.
Only our accent is better.
If yow can't get a rowm at the Premi-air Inn then jus' yow tyoon in to the Beebeeceee of a Thursdaaay and it's like yow is proppa in the Bullrinnng. Jus' down't look at us funnoi. Cos we down't loik it.