Cillian Murphy allegedly claimed Peaky Blinders wouldn't take off after filming the first episode, according to his co-star Benjamin Zephaniah.

However, those doubts never became a reality, as the BBC Birmingham crime drama is now one of the nation's favourite shows – with almost four million tuning into the fifth season's finale.

Murphy, who plays protagonist and crime family head Tommy Shelby, confided in Benjamin – who plays street preacher Jeremiah Jesus – the show's eventual massive success was a surprise to both of them.

The 61-year-old said to The Mirror: "I remember sitting down with Cillian and saying that a gangster show set in 1920s Birmingham, we didn't think it was going to take off."

He added: "People in the BBC have told me they're really scared of depicting Birmingham because it's really difficult to get the accents right.

"There aren't a lot of Birmingham stories told."

Zephaniah has been playing Jeremiah from the first season, but his character has faded from view in recent seasons.

However, he has hinted that there is more from him to come: "I'm a street preacher, although I'm linked to the Peaky Blinders I'm doing my own thing.

"I was the eyes and ears for Tommy, and he would come to me to see what's going on.

"But now the Peaky Blinders have got richer and they live in mansions they don't see me as much, and that suits me."

The fifth season's finale of the show was the bloodiest yet, with 25 stabbings in two minutes.

Two members of the Birmingham gang were among four deaths as much-loved characters bit the dust.

Aiden Gillen's character Aberama Gold was stabbed 22 times, while Tommy Shelby's old friend Barney was shot in the head.

Helen McCrory, who plays Polly, said: "It's disgustingly violent. And it should be."

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