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Peaky Blinders Season 6 Had Alternative Script With Aunt Pol In It, Star Reveals

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Peaky Blinders Season 6 Had Alternative Script With Aunt Pol In It, Star Reveals

The script for Peaky Blinders series 6 was completely re-written ahead of Helen McCrory's death, her co-star has revealed.

Charlene McKenna, who plays IRA commander Laura McKee (aka Captain Swing), told Tyla that Polly 'Aunt Pol' Gray was originally written into the sixth and final season.

Helen, who was married to actor Damian Lewis, died aged 52 in April 2021 after a private but 'heroic' battle with breast cancer and production on series 6 resumed soon after.

The script was rewritten after Helen fell ill, Charlene tells us, with her character instead being murdered by the IRA.

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Charlene, second left, with Peaky co-stars Helen McCrory, Sophie Rundle and Natasha O'Keeffe (Credit: Alamy)
Charlene, second left, with Peaky co-stars Helen McCrory, Sophie Rundle and Natasha O'Keeffe (Credit: Alamy)

"By the time we came to shooting, I only had the version [of the script] that was without Helen because she was ill at that stage," says Charlene.

"I know that they had another version that we didn't get, had it gone the way we wished it had with her in it. But we never got to see it. I mean, it's [creator Steven Knight], so it would have been wonderful."

The opening episode of season 6 featured a moving funeral scene which also served as an emotional send-off for Helen - for cast and fans alike.

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Charlene plays IRA commander Laura 'Captain Swing' McKee (Credit: BBC)
Charlene plays IRA commander Laura 'Captain Swing' McKee (Credit: BBC)

Speaking about the two-minute sequence, Charlene said: "It's so difficult to write a character out who is so amazing and loved, as well as the public knowing that the actor has passed away. It's difficult enough just to kill off a great character without adding the extra layer of how you deal with the sadness and sensitivity of the real and the fictional.

"As a fan, not [even] as a person in the show, I really thought it was really beautiful. If you analyse what [director Anthony Byrne] did, the screen time is like two minutes' silence. It's a lovely dedication because two minutes is a lot of screen time."

Aunt Pol was a much-loved character among the Peaky fandom (Credit: BBC)
Aunt Pol was a much-loved character among the Peaky fandom (Credit: BBC)
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Charlene says she enjoyed getting 'under the skin' of her character, despite the questionable morals of the ruthless IRA battalion commander

"If you're playing a villain, you're playing a villain," she says. "I think sometimes actors fall into traps where they want to make the character likeable even if they're bad and I'm like, 'No, some people just suck'.

Peaky Blinders season 6 continues on Sunday at 9pm on BBC One and is available to watch on iPlayer

Featured Image Credit: BBC

Topics: TV & Film, Peaky Blinders

Unity Blott
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