'Peaky Blinders' Season 5 cast: Sam Claflin set to play Fascist leader Oswald Mosley
The show is known for rendering historical characters as sideshows to the Shelbys' fortunes, will Mosley go the same route?
Creator Steven Knight might not depict historical facts and figures to tell the story of periodical crime thriller 'Peaky Blinders', but in Season 4 he did co-opt some parts of Britain's political history in order to accentuate the stance of the Shelby family.
Picking up from the tales of his own family, Knight's show looks at the infamous Shelbys in between the two world wars, as they try to legitimize their gambling, stolen automobiles, and alcohol business.
Led by the sly, yet sensitive, former war hero Thomas Shelby (Cillian Murphy), the Shelbys finally arrive at the social scene when Thomas manages to become a Member of Parliament in Season 4 with the help of the Communist Party. However, Thomas would never have reached his position without exploiting the help he got from Jessie Eden, who was the only historical figure on the series till date.
While the historical Eden was an indomitable woman who led female workers to protest against low wages and unsuitable work conditions, Knight completely did away with this aspect and rendered her as an accessory for Thomas to use to climb the political and the social ladder.
Eden's story fell prey to Thomas' fame, and we wonder if that will be the same case with the Fascist leader Oswald Mosley, whom Sam Claflin is set to portray in Season 5.
In an interview with Lorraine Kelly on her ITV chat show, Helen McCrory (Aunt Polly), revealed that Claflin will play the role of Mosley, the British politician who rose to fame in the 1920s as a Member of Parliament and later in the 1930s became leader of the British Union of Fascists (BUF).
McCrory also revealed the big secret that Claflin will deliver the exact same speech, the Free Trade Hall speech in Manchester, for which Mosley is most renowned for. In fact, the then Manchester Guardian had described Mosley as, "who could doubt that here was one of those root-and-branch men who have been thrown up from time to time in the religious, political and business story of England."
McCrory claimed that Claflin was quite convincing in his delivery of the speech as she stated, "When we saw it for the first time and having people like Sam Claflin coming back to play Oswald Mosely, who I saw gave the most extraordinary speech...Everything he said is actually what Mosely said.”
Mosley's Free Trade Hall speech came at a time when dissatisfied with the Labour Party, Mosley founded the New Party. Although initially, the organisation's parliamentary contests had a spoiler effect in splitting the left-wing vote and allowing Conservative candidates to win, soon the party won support among both Labour and Conservative politicians who agreed with Mosley's corporatist economic policy.
The New Party soon took incorporated fascist policies, but Mosley was denied any opportunity to establish the party during the general election of 1931, a time when England was hit by the Great Depression. However, his failure with the New Party did not stop him from furthering his agenda.
Mosley went on a study tour of the "new movements" of Italy's Benito Mussolini and other fascists, and returned convinced that it was the only way forward for Britain. 1932 saw Mosley establish the British Union of Fascists (BUF), who were known to be protectionist, strongly anti-communist, strongly anti-Zionist and nationalistic to the point of advocating authoritarianism.
The party soon became involved against Communist and Jewish groups, especially in London, and this information is enough to indicate the turmoil we are about to witness in the upcoming season.
He also instituted a corps of black-uniformed paramilitary stewards, the Fascist Defence Force, nicknamed Blackshirts, and which was more than enough to convince the then government to pass the Public Order Act 1936, which, amongst other things, banned political uniforms and quasi-military style organisations and came into effect on 1 January, 1937.
While McCrory stated that Season 5 will look into Mosley's confrontation with Thomas, Knight had himself revealed, "Tommy Shelby is always on the way up - and sort of on the way down as well. Obviously, he has political power now, and in series five he confronts fascism. Well, not ‘confront’ exactly, but that is what is happening at the time. The 1930s were all about the rise of fascism; how does Tommy Shelby respond? Tommy’s main enemy is himself in series five."
Considering that 'Peaky Blinders' is about to enter an age in history which was not only crucial to the little island in the West, but was also a time when the world was going through some massive political upheavals, we can take the creator's words for the truth that Season 5 will be one hell of a show.
'Peaky Blinders' Season 5 is set to return this year in Spring on BBC One, but no official date has been confirmed yet. As for now, listen to Mosley's notorious speech below: