Tom Hardy And Cillian Murphy's Peaky Blinders Audio Stories Explained

Steven Knight's period crime drama "Peaky Blinders" showcases the criminal escapades of the Shelby family in the aftermath of the First World War through five seasons. The show resurrects 1920s Birmingham, a city grappling with the repercussion of warfare when a dangerous man named Tommy Shelby (led by an enigmatic Cillian Murphy) begins rising through the ranks to become the biggest name in the world of organized crime.

Since premiering in 2013, "Peaky Blinders" has featured an ensemble cast including the late Helen McCrory (Polly) and Paul Anderson (Arthur Shelby) alongside Murphy, as the gang's senior members. Recurring roles include Tom Hardy (Alfie Solomons), Annabelle Wallis (Grace Shelby), Finn Cole (Michael Gray), Sam Claflin (Sir Oswald Mosley), and Sophie Rundle (Ada Shelby), among others.

The critically-acclaimed drama will return with its sixth and final season in early 2022, which means we'll have witnessed the Shelby family's misadventures for nine years. Cillian Murphy's Tommy Shelby has quickly evolved into one of television's most fascinating characters of all time. He wears a flat cap sewn with a blade, he's ruthless and relentless in his pursuit to protect his family while aspiring to make the Peaky Blinders the leading gang in the country. He is motivated by self-interest, his ambition is eternal, and he's fearless — the kind of person you'd never want as your enemy.

We've watched Tommy Shelby's impeccable character development in the show — but what do we know about his past? When he was young, Tommy laughed and smiled often, he was a romantic, and he loved horses — we see flashes of his past life whenever he isn't putting on a brave face. Still, how did a young boy realize he wanted to join the world of organized crime, and rule over it?

In late 2019, series creator Steven Knight shared two poems via audio stories, that give us a glimpse into what makes the characters of Tommy Shelby and Alfie Solomons. "The Ballad of Tommy Shelby" explains the past that drove Tommy to become the brutal, unforgiving man we know him as today, with Cillian Murphy narrating the poem himself.

"The Gospel of Alfie Solomons" focuses on Alfie Solomons, and is narrated by Tom Hardy. Some aspects of Tommy and Alfie's past have been scattered through the seasons, but the audios finally shine a light on their past.

Tommy Shelby Liked Scaring People ... And Horses

Yes — Tommy Shelby liked to scare people as a young kid, too, sans guns, of course. In the audio, Cillian Murphy reveals how, in Tommy's childhood, he scared people to make them laugh. 

"But for a laugh, with a stick, not to rob you, he'd come out of the fog, not to rob you, just to scare you, and to make you laugh."

The poem also details Tommy's love for horses — which has been explored throughout the show. As a child, he nearly killed a drunk man with a stick to save a horse. 

"And once, to save a horse, he used a stick on a drunk. They had to pull him away, or the man would be dead. They whispered: Get him away from here. That man has friends."

His Past Continues To Haunt Him

In 1915, Tommy enlisted to fight in the war and "went away in a ship to fight a million other kids, and they all drew straws to see who eventually died." We already know that Tommy had a pretty dark job during the war. He worked as a clay-kicker or a tunneler, who went under enemy lines and strapped explosives that destroyed their defensive positions.

Experiencing the horrors of warfare firsthand, with death looming over at all times, Shelby developed hatred towards those who sent him into battle. His aversion to authority, religion, and his lack of fear stems from his experiences.

Murphy reads, "And the kid came home knowing everyone, but the horses lied." The poem illustrates Tommy's experiences underground and his disbelief in the value of bravery medals. When he hears the ground above quake, he imagines it's about to take him with it. Still, he somehow ends up being alive when it all ends.

When we meet the character at the beginning of season 1, he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, which only worsens following the death of his wife Grace and his skull injury in season 3.

Murphy expresses in the poem that to Tommy, surviving the war was nothing short of a "miracle." But not everyone believed he had. 

"Then, by some miracle, they sail you home; to the place you used to be, and the barman says: Tommy, I heard you died, but anyway, what is it that you want?"

Following his return, Shelby "became the soldier of the living lost, the king and protector of the forgotten past," as he began to only worry about "what must come next." The poem recounts Tommy's unwavering ambition to take control of Birmingham in the last few sentences, as Murphy declares the rebirth of his character: "I came out of the fog, a sleepy-eyed kid."

In the upcoming season 6, Tommy's dreams will continue to be thwarted, and new enemies including Oswald Mosley, will come to light.

Alfie Solomons Dislikes Many Things

We learn a lot about Alfie Solomons (Tom Hardy) — who dislikes many things.

He refuses to believe that things are born perfect and become worse over time. "Some things are just born bad. some people are born with no intention to do anything good on this earth," Hardy reads in the audio.

We also learn about Alfie's father, Alfred Solomons Sr., who was far from ideal. His son doesn't think much of him and describes him as a "barbarian" and a "dispenser of semen to the gullible and the bewildered."

It's also made clear that Alfie's father was missing throughout his life. 

"He planted the seed, but he did not tend the garden. He stayed only long enough to piss on the compost."

The Mystery Behind Alfie's Hat

The audio divulges that Solomons Sr. was a trader who sold out of his suitcase, but perhaps the biggest reveal is the mystery of why the character wears a hat. 

It's all Alfie ever saw of his father — the hat is the same one he had worn throughout his life. His childhood had "no kisses, no bedtime stories," and he has held onto the "holy relic," which was the only way for him to know his father.

Alfie continued to wear the hat because it's how he could plot, and how "the schemes and proposals" came "out of the darkness." Although he doesn't feel guilty about his crimes, he often dreams about the people he has murdered.

Alfie has had a hand in multiple deaths, all of which have continued to haunt his present. " I'll have you know, [the victims] attend my dreams each night in various disguises, in regular order, with no pattern or logic to it." When Alfie wakes up in the morning, his sheets "have to be wrung out from sweat."

Hardy leaves us with a conclusion that documents his character's beliefs that there's no good or bad in this world, just powerful men who change the definition as per their whims and fancies.

"There is no good, and there is no bad that is categorical in this world beyond the calculations of powerful men who shift the definition according to their own selfish schemes of accumulation. Life is good, and death is bad purely, purely for argument's sake," he concludes.