TV

'She was just so cool': Peaky Blinders stars pay tribute to Helen McCrory ahead of final season

Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight and star Sophie Rundle say Helen McCrory's influence was felt on the set of the final series.

The much missed Helen McCrory as Polly. Image: TCD/Prod.DB / Alamy Stock Photo

The creator of Peaky Blinders has paid tribute to the late Helen McCrory and says her influence was felt on the set of the sixth and final season.

In a wide-ranging interview reflecting on the show, Steven Knight and star Sophie Rundle spoke glowingly about McCrory, who died of breast cancer in April last year aged 52.

McCrory, who played Polly Gray in the first five seasons of the hit BBC show, died before filming began on the new season.

“The tragedy of the loss of the human being of Helen is a million times greater than the loss of the character, but in between those two is the loss of the actor. I can only talk about the actor and the character, really,” the screenwriter and director told The Big Issue.

“Helen was such a fantastic, powerful performer who took this role and changed it and made it something greater than the sum of its parts. And as in real life, when someone with that influence passes, they remain. Within the family, their influence remains. And they’re still part of the building structure. And that’s true of Helen and Polly.”

Rundle, who plays Gray’s niece Ada Shelby in the show, echoed this view, describing the star’s passing as a “devastating loss”.

“Helen was really remarkable. She was just so cool. I feel enormously privileged to have been able to work with her for 10 years,” she said.

“We just really missed her. It was a devastating loss on screen and off screen. Helen was really extraordinary. And Peaky Blinders wouldn’t be what it is without her and the extraordinary input she put into the show. She made the character of Holly so much more than she was originally.

“So on screen, there is this huge void in the Shelby family. Ada knows she has to step up. She needs to pull everyone back together and has the skill set to do that, unlike her brothers.

“She doesn’t try to fill those shoes, no one could. But there’s a nod towards it while she is dealing with her own loss. Because family’s the most important thing, isn’t it? It’s interesting to see the culmination of Ada’s journey from trying to extricate herself from the Shelby family to trying to keep everyone together.”

Elsewhere in next week’s Big Issue cover interview, Knight discusses the show’s origins and draws parallels with today’s society, while Rundle discusses the growth of her character.

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