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It’s fair to say the arrival of Lady Diana Mitford into the Peaky Blinders universe has ruffled a few feathers.
Since her entrance in season 6, the scheming aristocrat – based on the real-life 1930s socialite – has drawn the ire of every character in her wake, not to mention the fandom, some of whom have taken her presence quite personally.
But, as actor Amber Anderson tells us, despite Diana’s unsavoury political views (she was a fascist and Nazi symphathiser who counted Adolf Hitler as a guest at her wedding to Oswald Mosley) she managed to find some common ground with the disgraced former It-girl in preparing for the role.
“You wouldn’t be doing your job properly if you just wrote off your character as ‘evil’,” the Peaky newcomer tells Tyla.
“I really enjoyed playing a character who just sort of didn’t have any care in the sense of worrying about what people thought of her. Diana is the antithesis of that and that was really fun.
“You do absorb a little bit of what you do as an actor and so I found it really therapeutic to play someone who had no level of insecurity or self-consciousness whatsoever.”
Amber, who previously starred in Emma and Strike, wants fans to understand that Lady Diana was in many ways considered the brains behind the political career of Mosley, her married lover and future husband.
“I think she probably wouldn’t have seen herself as a feminist,” Amber says. “But I think she has some feminist qualities and probably, without realising it, she was a very early feminist. She’s definitely in charge.
“I think in that relationship Oswald was, on the face of it, the one that was in charge and in control and had all the answers, but as [co-star Sam Clafin] so brilliantly in that scene, Diana was ‘the engine of his enterprise’.
“I think that women have been filling that role for centuries, it was the only way that we could have any power. The only difference now is that we’re actually being allowed to step into these roles and have more of an outward sense of power and control.
“I think she was just navigating things the only way she knew how and the only way that was really available to her at that time.”
Feminism aside, three episodes in and it’s fair to say the fandom haven’t quite warmed to Lady Diana… yet.
“I’ve had a little bit of people telling me where to go,” Amber admits. “I think some of the fans are – and you know it’s kind of cool that they are – extremely protective over Tommy as a character.
“Anyone that comes in and tries to mess with Tommy, I think some fans get extremely protective over him. I’ve had a little bit of – not hate – but sort of protective guarding of Tommy which I find quite hilarious because it’s just acting, it’s not real.”
There is also the question of Tommy’s late wife, Grace Shelby, who some fans immediately assumed was being replaced as a love interest by Lady Diana.
“I think any time they introduced another female lead that had blonde hair, there were always going to be comparisons made to Grace,” Amber concedes.
“I think now that I’ve actually appeared in my first episode of the show, people are realising that I’m not supposed to be a replacement for Grace and that I’m not supposed to be stepping into her shoes, not that anybody could.
“I think people are realising now that actually my role is to do the exact opposite in a way. I hope people will fall in love with Diana because they’ll love to hate her.”
Peaky Blinders continues on BBC One, Sundays at 9pm, and on iPlayer
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