“I’m just an extreme example of what a working class man can achieve”.
Tommy Shelby’s words perfectly sum up the wild popularity of Peaky Blinders in a TV landscape already dominated by crime dramas. The BBC’s Brummy gangster masterpiece came to a roaring conclusion last month, with a critically acclaimed sixth and final season following the devastating passing of the irreplaceable Helen McRory, who played family matriarch Polly Gray, in 2021.
Renowned for stunning cinematography and instantly quotable one liners, the show has featured riveting storylines from the grimy streets of post-war Birmingham all the way to bootlegging havens in the Atlantic. The success of the show has even led to a commission of a feature-length film, which will see the iconic residents of Small Heath return for the epic final chapter in the Shelby saga.
Across the course of a blood-soaked gangster tale, there are bound to be a few deaths that leave a lasting impression. Peaky Blinders was no exception, killing off main characters in shock fashion left, right and centre since the moment the drama hit screens all the way back in 2013.
10. Vicente Changretta
"Look at me. This is the end."
So speaks Thomas Shelby in a scene dripping with unshakable sense of ominous dread; the death of Italian mobster, Vicente Changretta.
After John Shelby callously blinds his son Angel, the elderly gangster hires a man to assassinate Tommy in revenge. In the botched attempt, Tommy's beloved new bride Grace is tragically gunned down in the crossfire.
The Shelby brothers rip Changretta from the arms of his sobbing wife while they attempt to flee the country and Tommy's wrath. Vicente cuts a dignified figure, accepting his fate with poise and making the subsequent scene even more unnervingly jittery.
A grief-crazed Tommy, describes in bloodcurdling detail how he plans to torture Vicente until dawn, made all the more disturbing by the increasingly unhinged manner in which the transcendent Cillian Murphy delivers Tommy's chilling words. Tommy's implacable rage as he threatens to cut away the mobster's eyelids if he does not look at him as Changretta resolutely prays in Italian is a terrible, frightening spectacle to behold.
As the mask slips for good, Tommy lunges forward, roaring that he is a Blinder by nature and will first take Changretta's eyes. There is almost an audible sigh of relief as Arthur executes Vicente before Tommy can exact his barbaric revenge.
The dazed audience is left to process the chaotic sequence of events, unsure as whether to be more relieved for Changretta or what remains of Tommy's soul, likely saved by his brother's intervention.