In the space of six series, the crime drama set in 1920s Birmingham has become a ratings hit, spawning theme pubs, fashion lines and festivals. How did it become a cross-cultural phenomenon?

When Shane Milligan picks up the phone, the plasterer and part-time magician from Kent launches straight into an impression of a character he feels he embodies so fully that he sometimes loses sight of himself. “By order of the Peaky Blinders, this place is under new management!” he bellows in guttural Brummie from his home in Gravesend.

The line comes early on in Peaky Blinders, the Birmingham-set gangster drama that is about to come to a presumably bloody conclusion in its sixth series on BBC One and Netflix. In the episode, Arthur Shelby (played by Paul Anderson), the tortured brother of crime boss Tommy (Cillian Murphy), has just violently taken over a London jazz club owned by Italian capo Darby Sabini.

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