For a schoolproject, we are working on a research question which is about the language used in the BBC drama show Peaky Blinders.

We are not born in an English speaking region so it isn't really easy for us to know if this is old-fashioned language or just an accent. We were hoping there would be some people out here who could know more about the language used. We guess that it is an Birmingham accent but mixed up with other accents because the Peaky Blinders fought in WW1 together with soldiers from all across England. There could be Irish words included in their vocabulary because of their Irish origin.

Thanks in advance, a group of Belgian students

1 Answer 1


Yes, the accent of most main characters in the show is a Birmingham regional accent. The Shelby family are portrayed as being partly of Romanichal traveller heritage, which may account for some of the non-British vocabulary you mention. Persons of mixed Romani descent were known as 'Diddicoys', although this word is rarely used now and some consider it to be pejorative. There are Irish travellers today, but these are not generally related to Romanis and tend to speak with Irish accents.

Some other language may be slang of the era, or British criminal slang, which was commonly used so that illegal activities could be discussed in public without others understanding.

  • First of all, thanks for your answer. After some extra research, we came across some more insights about the language and many people say that it is actually the Birmingham accent mainly, with some Irish vocabulary. But the accent would have been exaggerated in this series to make it look like it is a language used in that time period. So could it be old-fashioned as well?
    – helpmepls
    Feb 21, 2022 at 14:34
  • @helpmepls Yes, it is very possible some of the language used is of the time period being portrayed. It is more likely that will just be some terminology rather than language structure. Even native British English speakers would struggle to understand if they really spoke like people of the time did. Criminal patois, as I mentioned in my answer, was designed so that ordinary people would not understand it.
    – Astralbee
    Feb 22, 2022 at 14:59
  • @helpmepls In English we describe accents as being thick or strong, e.g "He has a thick Birmingham accent.”
    – Mari-Lou A
    Feb 25, 2022 at 8:31

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