Inside 9 Historically Inaccurate TV Shows — And The Big Mistakes They Made

Published December 12, 2022

The Shelby Family In Peaky Blinders Didn’t Actually Exist — And The Show Arguably Took Place A Few Decades Too Late

Peaky Blinders

Robert Viglasky/Caryn Mandabach Productions Ltd. & Tiger Aspect Productions Ltd. 2016/BBCThe real-life Peaky Blinders were far less powerful than their television counterparts.

The popular BBC drama Peaky Blinders stars Cillian Murphy as a man named Thomas Shelby and chronicles his time in a street gang called Peaky Blinders. It follows the character and his family members as they rise through the ranks, with Shelby eventually becoming a Member of Parliament.

The show begins in 1918, with members of the Birmingham-based gang returning home from war, but the real Peaky Blinders gang was most active years earlier, from the late 19th century to the beginning of World War I.

Oh, and Thomas Shelby never existed.

According to Radio Times, the real Peaky Blinders were young, unemployed, working-class men and teenage boys known for being violent, robbing people, and taking control of the city’s gambling industry.

They probably did not earn their name by keeping razors to blind their victims beneath their peaked hats. That, as clever as it is, was just a myth.

And by the 1910s, the Peaky Blinders had lost ground to a bigger organization led by Billy Kimber, the Birmingham Boys. Unlike the Kimber in the show (a real-life historical figure portrayed in the series), the actual Kimber was much more successful in protecting his gang’s business.

By the 1920s, the real-life Peaky Blinders had all but disappeared, but their lasting reputation did lead to the name “Peaky Blinders” being used as a slang term to describe a variety of new gangs in Birmingham.

There are other small inaccuracies, such as Winston Churchill being depicted as the Home Secretary during the show’s timeline. In truth, as Express points out, Churchill was only Home Secretary from 1910 to 1911, years before the show takes place. In 1919, Churchill was the Minister for War and Air.

Similarly, the series shows the British Union of Fascists being set up by Oswald Mosley in 1929 when in actuality it was not founded until 1932.

These are, of course, only small inaccuracies in a fictional show that shouldn’t be cited in place of a history book. In other words, these changes are far less notable than the characters who never existed in the first place.

Austin Harvey
A staff writer for All That's Interesting, Austin Harvey has also had work published with Discover Magazine, Giddy, and Lucid covering topics on mental health, sexual health, history, and sociology. He holds a Bachelor's degree from Point Park University.
Jaclyn Anglis
Jaclyn is the senior managing editor at All That's Interesting. She holds a Master's degree in journalism from the City University of New York and a Bachelor's degree in English writing and history (double major) from DePauw University. She is interested in American history, true crime, modern history, pop culture, and science.