Peaky Blinders is all about family – but many fans are probably unaware that two main characters are brothers in real life.
Everyone remembers John Shelby, who was shot outside his home by members of the Italian mob in a shock revenge attack in Series 4.
Shocked viewers of the hit BBC gangster drama were saddened to see actor Joe Cole’s abrupt exit – appearing from the very first episode in 2013 until 2017.
But that wasn’t the end of his family’s involvement with the show as John’s cousin, Michael Gray, plays Joe’s younger brother, Finn Cole.
Finn joined the Series 2 cast as Aunt Polly’s long-lost son before rising through the ranks of the Birmingham-based gang to become chief accountant.
Joe, who is the eldest of five brothers who grew up in Kingston upon Thames in London, says there are parallels to the Shelby family as their home was a ‘madhouse’ always full of people.
As a big brother, Joe felt responsible for his younger siblings and helped him win an audition for Peaky Blinders by talking to his bosses.
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“Finn always wanted to find his own way – he was very enthusiastic and showed real energy and passion for the game,” Joe said. Shock in 2014.
“He kept pestering me. I pushed him away, actually, but eventually I said, ‘I’m going to talk to [the show’s producers] if you read the lines and you understand the character and you learn the accent and you learn the scenes. You do the prep, and I’m going to film you doing it.
“He got down to business and thanks to him he worked very hard and he got his desserts right.”
Finn admitted that he hadn’t considered auditioning at first as he was still studying at school, but decided to give it a shot, although he couldn’t audition in person as he didn’t. didn’t have enough money.
Finn explained: “He nailed the script and we discussed it and read it together and there was a character in there that was really cool and that I really liked.
“I never really intended to audition for it, I was still in college at the time doing my baccalaureate and I had to focus on it.
“Then the next week after reading it, I was in college and I was really bored and I was just like ‘you know what? I’m going to call Joe and see what he says.
BBC/Mandabach/Tiger Aspect/Robert Viglasky)
“If there’s a way for me to audition for that that would be absolutely brilliant and he said go to Birmingham, they do open auditions.
“I was looking for train tickets to Birmingham and I had no money so I couldn’t make it and then he called me back and said why not just tape an audition and I’ll do it. send to my agent?”
The brothers recorded Finn’s audition and sent it to the casting director, who was impressed and offered him the role of Michael.
Joe continued to help Finn as they acted out, which was helpful for Finn as he could ask his older brother any questions he felt “embarrassed” asking someone else.
“Joe was really helpful and those nerves from day one went out the window because he’s someone I could spend my time with and stuff, so that was really good,” Finn added.
Peaky Blinders isn’t the pair’s first time working together, as the brothers both made their acting debuts in the 2012 film Offender.
BBC/Caryn Mandabach/Robert Viglasky)
Although he left the show a few years ago, Joe still wants to know what’s going on and receives “little bits” from his brother.
“It’s funny. We’re talking,” he told Digital Spy in 2020. “I mean, not so much now, but I really enjoy watching this show as a viewer, more than when I was there.
“When I was in it, I found it…obviously it’s harder to look at yourself. You’ve seen it all. You’ve been on set.
“So it’s fun to watch it as an audience member now. And yes, Finn gives me little treats. But I prefer to just watch it as a spectator now.”
The actor also revealed he has “nothing but positive feelings and gratitude for this show” and “had an amazing time” working on it.
The brothers were actually forced to compete this month as Peaky Blinders went head-to-head with Joe’s new show, The Ipcress File.
BBC/Caryn Mandabach Productions Ltd./Matt Squire)
In ITV’s miniseries adaptation of the Cold War thriller, Joe recreates the spy role made famous by Michael Caine in the 1965 film of the same name.
With Finn appearing on BBC One and Joe appearing on ITV, there was a bit of sibling rivalry due to the scheduling conflict.
During an appearance on The One Show earlier this month to promote his new show, Joe took the opportunity to try and win over his parents sooner.
“Yeah…actually it’s my chance now, where’s the camera,” Joe asked when asked about the show’s shock.
“Mom and dad, if you watch: The Ipcress File, ITV, 9 p.m. There you go.”
Many Peaky Blinders fans still haven’t gotten over John Shelby’s untimely death – and Joe opened up about his exit from the show earlier this month.
Joe admitted he made the decision to walk because gangster drama is “Cillian Murphy’s show”.
The actor claimed he “never walked through the doors” when it came to playing John because he was in Tommy Shelby’s shadow.
Speaking to the Underground about his motivation to leave Peaky Blinders at the height of his success, Joe said, “With Peaky Blinders, I never really got out of doors in that role. It’s really Cillian’s show.”
When offered his latest Sky Atlantic project, Gangs of London, his first response was a firm ‘no’ because he didn’t want to be pigeonholed.
Despite his reservations, Joe realized it “might be something special” after reading the script and decided to sign up.
He continued, “I’ve spent the last few years turning down gang-related shows because when a show does well, a lot comes up.
“I actually chose to leave Peaky Blinders because I wanted to explore new avenues, new characters, and new stories.”
*Peaky Blinders airs tonight on BBC One at 9pm
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