Peaky Blinders

An epic gangster drama starring Cillian Murphy, Sam Neill and Helen McCrory on BBC Two

Interview with Sophie Rundle

[Ada Shelby is] part of this new generation with all this energy that’s looking for a change after the First World War. So she’s sort of wild and bright and full of energy."Sophie Rundle
Category: BBC Two; Drama

Tell us about your character

I play Ada Shelby. She’s the sister of the Peaky Blinder boys and as much as all the boys are these sort of wild, vicious, ruthless characters, she’s a real sort of feral wild child but, because she’s a girl in that time she sort of channels her energy quite differently. Everything that you imagine about the 20s, the flapper girls and the bright young things, Ada kind of embodies a lot of that. She’s part of this new generation with all this energy that’s looking for a change after the First World War. So she’s sort of wild and bright and full of energy.

The women in Peaky Blinders are all very strong

There’s really only three female characters, all of them are really fiery and bold. It’s amazing as a woman reading that kind of part because there’s no sort of wilting flowers and no damsels in distress. They’re all ballsy and some of them are a bit scarier than the guys which is really fun to play. It’s a really ruthless world and it’s a ruthless time and they’re having to protect themselves and their family.

Tell us a bit about the kind of world that it’s set in

It’s just before the 1920s in Birmingham at a time of real social upheaval. It’s just after the First World War when I think everything changed for everyone. These men went away and they came back changed and they’d seen things and the women had been left behind. So when you start watching Peaky Blinders, we’re really in that time where people wanted something new and I think they weren’t happy to go back to the life they’d had before, which is where the 20s really came from, it really sparked off this energy of lots of young people wanting to sort of break free from all the corsets of the beginning of the century and these long skirts. Suddenly the girls’ dresses were getting shorter and they were looser and for my character, particularly, she’s really quite fashion conscious and she’s young and she loves the movies and she’s a real dreamer.

What was it like working with the cast and crew?

It was like this massive family and that was really nice. It’s a group of really exciting, talented young people. The creative behind it has just been extraordinary. The directors, Otto and Tom, are just supremely talented guys, who really loved the scripts and totally got the world that Steve Knight had created. The Art Department have been amazing, all the props and costume and I think everyone was just so excited by these scripts and just really wanted to throw themselves into this world and they have done. It’s so nice being a part of that because everyone just wants it to be perfect and to be great. So it’s been a lot of fun. It’s been a really great vibe.