Real-Life ‘Peaky Blinders’ City Is Scarier Than The TV Show

strongCillian Murphy plays Thomas Shelby on set at the Black Country Museum/Digbeth, Birmingham. Residents of the inner-city area where the hit BBC show Peaky Blinders is located have described how they constantly live in fear of contemporary gangs who are considerably scarier. SWNS/strong

By Sophie Watson

Residents living in the inner-city suburb where “Peaky Blinders” is set have told how they live in fear of modern-day gangs far scarier than the hit BBC show.

The district of Small Heath in Birmingham, UK, features as the backdrop for the award-winning gritty gangster drama which concluded after six series last year.

But locals living in the area have now revealed how real life in the deprived suburb is not too dissimilar to the 1920s slums portrayed on our TV screens.

Homeowners say people still live in fear of gangs fighting running wars on the crime-ridden streets, which become no-go areas after dark.

And despite attracting tourists to the area – people claim the legacy of the show has had no effect as not a penny has been spent on regeneration.

Historic mugshots showing criminals in Birmingham wearing peaked caps. SWNS

Others living near the now-closed Garrison Tavern and other set locations told how their lives have also been blighted by drug dealing and other criminal activities.

The BBC drama, starring Cillian Murphy as Tommy Shelby, was based on a real street gang based in the city at the turn of the 20th Century.

But residents say feuding drugs gangs now roam the streets with guns and knives rather than razor blades sewn into the peaks of their flat caps.

In the program, Small Heath is home to the Garrison Tavern pub, Charlie Strong’s yard and the Shelby Home and Betting shop.

Sandra Delaney who works at Griffin’s Sandwich shop in Small Heath, Birmingham.  The region still has drug dens and is a crime hotspot today, more than a century after the series’ setting. SWNS

Dad-of-one Andi Khan, 33, said in reality the area is home to drug dens and is still a crime hotspot more than 100 years from when the series was set.

He said: “The show portrays Small Heath as a pretty rough area and to be honest it still is even now.

“Me and my mates joked that some scenes showing these run-down industrial slums weren’t that different from how they are today.

“We’ve still got gangs running riot around here, although they are a bit different to the ones seen in the show. If anything the reality is scarier and more dangerous.”

“There are not just one or two gangs running the show around here, there are multiple gangs, usually young lads, clashing all the time. Most of the time over drugs.

“People are going around with guns these days rather than razor blades. It has got worse over the last ten years, perhaps ironically since the show began.”

The show’s creator Steven Knight grew up in Small Heath and said he would hear stories of the real Peaky Blinders when he was a kid.

His mom was a bookies runner and he remembers carrying a basket of washing down the street as a child into which punters would hide their bets.

Sandra Delaney, 57, has worked in Griffin’s Sandwich Shop next to the run-down Garrison Tavern, once a bustling pub for Birmingham City soccer fans, for just over a year.

The mom-of-four, from Stetchford, Birmingham, said: “People travel from all over the world to come and visit Small Heath because of the Peaky Blinders sets.

Terry Peters standing outside the Peaky Blinders Bar at the Royal George Pub near St Andrews. SWNS

“But I think they are very disappointed when they get here. The area needs a lot of TLC and drugs are rife in this area.

“There is also a lot of litter and fly-tipping in the area, with rubbish lining the streets.

“It’s a shame though because the Garrison pub has now also been turned into some kind of hostel so people can’t even really go and enjoy the film set.

“But I wouldn’t say these issues aren’t any worse than they are in other areas of Birmingham.”

In January, figures show 380 crimes were reported in the Small Heath and Highgate areas including 136 violent and sexual offenses.

And just two weeks ago a rapper who boasted in one of his songs about stabbing a teenager to death in Small Heath was jailed for life.

Abdirahaman Yussuf, 20, plunged a blade into the chest of Yahya Sharif, 18, who was ambushed as he got out of his car on December 10, 2021.

Another local resident, who did not wish to be named, said: “I don’t go out after dark. It’s proper dodgy and I don’t think Peaky Blinders helped its image.

“I think kids want to think they are the next Peaky Blinders – it’s ridiculous really.”

Welder Harry Danks, 36, a dad-of-one, from Solihull, added: “I’m a Birmingham City fan, so I’m in Small Heath a lot.

“Peaky Blinders has helped the image of Birmingham as a whole I think and brought tourists in. It’s a cool show that’s got a worldwide following.

“It has brought people to Small Heath, but the area has not seen any improvement as a result of the exposure. It’s still as rough as it’s always been.”

Produced in association with SWNS Talker

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