Why Steven Knight Is Glad Channel 4 Turned Down Peaky Blinders

Steven Knight has been thinking about "Peaky Blinders" for a very long time. The series is named after a real-life Birmingham-based street gang during the turn of the century, a gang that Knight heard stories about from his parents while growing up. When he created "Peaky Blinders," the screenwriter had a personal goal: to accurately depict the real accounts shared by his parents. His father's uncles were members of the Sheridan gang, one of whom was the direct inspiration for Tommy Shelby.

Additionally, his mother worked for a bookmaker when she was just nine years old, so Knight was quite closely associated with the inspirations for the show. The showrunner first conceived the idea in the mid-80s and pitched his plans for "Peaky Blinders" to Channel 4 — a British free-to-air broadcasting network that was excited but eventually turned down the idea. Looking back at their decision, Knight is pretty relieved the network rejected the series.

'I'm glad it didn't get made then'

If "Peaky Blinders" had managed to find its way to the small screen nearly 40 years ago, it's hard to imagine what the show would have looked like. The period crime drama series has become immensely popular due to its visceral depiction of a close-knit gangster family, not to mention Cillian Murphy's incredible performance as the man who holds "Peaky Blinders" together. To think we could've had it decades ago when studios didn't have the technology or the means to navigate the show the way they do today makes one wonder what the gangster drama could have turned out like.

In an interview with NME, Steven Knight told the publication he was relieved Channel 4 decided not to go ahead with "Peaky Blinders."

"I presented it to Channel 4 and [they turned it down] ... There's nothing wrong with Channel 4, but I'm glad it didn't get made then because we didn't actually have the [necessary] technology."

In 2019, Knight expanded on the story, telling Drama Quarterly that if "Peaky Blinders" was made back in the day, they wouldn't have the same cast. The film producer further stated that since CGI wasn't available at the time, they wouldn't be able to do some of the technical effects the show has now.

"In those days, people watched on little screens and there would be no point making it look beautiful. The CGI wouldn't have been available, so you wouldn't have been able to do some of the effects we do and we wouldn't have had the actors."

There's a right time for everything, and it's a good thing Knight was patient in his endeavor to bring "Peaky Blinders" to the world.