American 'Peaky Blinders' fans need subtitles to understand Brummy accent, says writer

Amy West
'Peaky Blinders' fans across the pond use subtitles to understand the character's Brummie accents, according to showrunner Steven Knight (BBC)

Birmingham is as much a character in Peaky Blinders as Helen McCrory’s Polly Gray or Cillian Murphy’s Tommy Shelby. But the Brummie accent that’s become so synonymous with the show makes it more difficult for US fans to follow.

According to showrunner Steven Knight, “quite a lot of people watch it with subtitles on” across the pond in order to understand what the characters are saying.

“It’s quite funny,” he laughed in an exclusive interview with the Mirror.

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American viewers aren’t the only ones that struggle with the dialect either. Birmingham-born Knight added that even the actors - who have been tackling the accent for six years find it “tricky” and “difficult to get.

“But we’re getting there now,” he added.

Steven Knight and Cillian Murphy attend the Premiere of BBC Two's drama "Peaky Blinders" episode one, series three, 2016. (Photo by Anthony Harvey/Getty Images)

Only a small number of the actors who have appeared in Peaky Blinders actually hail from Birmingham themselves. McCrory is from London, as are Paul Anderson, Natasha O'Keeffe, Joe Cole and Finn Cole, while Murphy stems from Ireland.

Annabelle Wallis - who played Grace Shelby until the show’s third season - is from Oxford while Sam Neill is famously from New Zealand.

Talking about the show’s use of the accent with Birmingham Mail back in 2014, Knight said: “I know [Birmingham-based fans] didn’t like some of the accents. But at least we gave it a go.

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“I feel the pain of people who criticise the accent, as for years I’ve had to hear Brummie accents done badly on the telly. But you can’t not do it because of that.

“I’ve been banging on about doing stuff in Birmingham for years and years, and everyone says ‘We can’t, it’s the accent thing’. For some reason it's a very difficult accent to get right, harder even than Geordie.”

Peaky Blinders’s fifth season is set to air later this summer.