In May 1926, the Trades Union Congress called a general strike in support of miners who had been suffering for years from declining pay. While the strike was ultimately unsuccessful and didn’t result in the revolution some feared, it’s a reminder that the 1920s was a decade of upheaval and hardship for many.
This makes the period a rich source of stories rooted in British social history, tales that underpin the fourth season of writer Steven Knight’s gangster drama. Last time around, we found First World War veteran Tommy Shelby ( Cillian Murphy) and his clan living the high life in a country house. This time, it’s back to basics as a threat to the family drives the Shelbys once again onto the sooty streets of Small Heath, Birmingham, where a desperate fight for survival plays out.
As well as Murphy, regulars such as Helen McCrory as family matriarch Pol and Tom Hardy as the downright terrifying gang leader Alfie Solomons also return. It looks likely a fifth series, probably next year, will conclude the Shelbys’ story on the eve of the Second World War.
Cillian Murphy helps bring the 1920s back to life