A Cheshire country house will play a ‘central role’ in the new series of Peaky Blinders, which returns to TV screens this evening (May 5).
The hit BBC Two show, about the rise of a family of criminals in the years after the First World War, stars Cillian Murphy as charismatic gangster Thomas Shelby and has regularly pulled in between two and three million viewers since it first aired in 2013.
Yesterday it emerged that Arley Hall near Northwich was used as a location for scenes featuring Hollywood actors including Murphy (The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception), Helen McCrory (Skyfall, Harry Potter), who plays Aunt Polly, and Tom Hardy (Mad Max: Fury Road, Legend), who returns for an encore performance as London gang leader Alfie Solomons.
The filming took place over a five-week period last November and December, but the presence of the show’s high-profile stars in Cheshire was kept under wraps at the time.
The Grade II* listed country house doubles up as the Shelby family’s Warwickshire mansion, a sign of their growing wealth and influence after rising from humble beginnings in the backstreets of Birmingham.
A series of tweets from the Arley Hall Twitter account yesterday revealed: “By order of the Peaky Blinders, we are excited to announce that Arley Hall will play a central role in the drama when it returns.
“Weeks of shooting took place when actors Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy and Helen McCrory filmed scenes in the hall and around the grounds.
“It was very exciting for us and we can’t wait to see the end results.”
Arley Hall’s general manager Steve Hamilton added: “It’s been incredible to see the effort and attention to detail that goes into a production such as Peaky Blinders.
“There was a real buzz around Arley during the filming and it was great to work with the BBC on such a popular and critically-acclaimed drama.
“The great thing now is that people will be able to visit us this summer and walk in the rooms where these incredible actors have filmed their scenes.”
Arley’s library will double as Tommy’s study while the gallery – where wedding parties usually enjoy their breakfast – became the Shelby family’s dining hall.
Although Peaky Blinders is set in Birmingham, the gang’s home city, and London, much of the locations used for filming are in the North West of England.
For series three, crews visited Merseyside to film at Stanley Dock, Seacombe Ferry terminal and Port Sunlight, as well as Rodney Street in Liverpool city centre.
And in 2014, several scenes were filmed at the National Waterways Museum in Ellesmere Port , which stood in for Camden Town in series two.
The history of the Hall
Arley Hall bills itself as the ‘perfect venue for group visits, family days out weddings and conferences with stunning gardens’.
It was built between 1832 and 1845 and is home to Viscount Ashbrook and his family. In 2014, scenes for the Disney movie Evermoor were filmed there.
But for the next six weeks it will be the official residence of the Peaky Blinders gang – so called because they sew razor blades in the peaks of their caps – on our TV screens.
Series three of Peaky Blinders begins on BBC Two on Thursday, May 5 at 9pm.