Thomas Shelby may have put Birmingham on the world map but it was another bad boy – Ebenezer Scrooge – who took centre stage when Peaky Blinders creator and writer Steven Knight delivered a masterclass at BBC Birmingham.
The early December event – organised by BBC Birmingham in partnership with RTS Midlands – celebrated the writer’s latest project, a three-part adaptation of A Christmas Carol, a highlight of BBC One’s festive schedule.
The Dickens classic has been adapted countless times, which is why Knight said he undertook a detailed study of the original text in search of a fresh take on a familiar story.
“If Dickens was around now, he’d probably be writing returning television series because he wrote in episodes and he managed to create characters that seem to be eternal, with Scrooge probably the pre-eminent one,” he said.
“I was particularly taken with the paragraphs where Dickens goes off at a tangent. They don’t move the plot along but they do give an insight into the characters, particularly Scrooge. I studied them forensically and thought, ‘He’s like this but why is he like this? What made him become that person?’
“There are some surprises and some shocks but I hope people will return to the book and realise where they’ve come from.”
Steven Knight has not just helped to make the Brummie accent cool, he’s also passionate about putting Birmingham on the map. He told the audience that he’d just visited the proposed site of his new TV and film studios in the city’s Digbeth district.
“The need for studio space in this country is alarming now. There’s a reason why the Americans want to come here. What we can offer in Birmingham is film studios – not at London prices but within striking distance of London,” he said.
The studios promise to be a game-changer for the region’s creative sector. Add to that, Knight’s pledge to film series 7 of Peaky Blinders in Birmingham, and it’s easy to see why the city sees him as the gift that keeps giving.