Peaky Blinders’ Early Episodes Didn’t Inspire Confidence In Benjamin Zephaniah And Cillian Murphy

Initially, Benjamin Zephaniah wondered if audiences would come to love a story about gangsters set in Birmingham. In the show, he plays a character named Jeremiah Jesus — a Jamaican-born street preacher who he described as “a slightly off-his-head character” in a 2018 interview with Birmingham Live. Interestingly, the character is based on a real-life personality known as Jimmy Jesus, who fought with a battalion from Birmingham during World War One. Zephaniah’s on-screen character is shown to be Tommy Shelby’s (Cillian Murphy) friend since fighting alongside him in the war.

Zephaniah admitted to Birmingham Live that he had doubts when he began filming the first season of “Peaky Blinders” in 2013. The series’ cast members were nervous about how viewers would respond to the first episode and searched online to see what people were saying after its premiere. There were some complaints about the cast’s gruff Birmingham accents, but nothing the actors worried too much about. Zephaniah explained:

“The day we started filming, and the second day and third day it was like ‘Is this going to work? Are people going to get this, a gangster thing set in Birmingham?’ When the first episode went out, all of us were on the end of the phone, trying to find out how it went down, and looking at Twitter and everything like that.”

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