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"I WANT TO BRING BACK THE KING KONG STATUE"

Steven Knight, creator of Peaky Blinders, on Blues fans, Birmingham's answer to Pinewood Studios and returning the iconic gorilla to his beloved Brum... 

Firstly Steven, where’s the accent gone?
It returns when I come back to Brum. The moment I'm back. When I first moved to London it was so strong people didn’t understand me. I’d go into a shop and ask for a newspaper, and the shop owner would keep pointing to tissues. He thought I was saying "nose paper". Who says nose paper?

What sums up Birmingham, from when you were a kid?
When I was about 11 my Dad started shoeing horses for a living. In the mornings I'd get in his van and head go to this scrap metal yard. It was the weirdest of places, full of horses. It was a sort of disappearing Birmingham of settled gypsies and a lot of foundry work, people living off the scrap. It was an almost Victorian world that was quickly vanishing. That was my world. That was my Birmingham. I saw the last of it.
Do you visit the city often?
I visit St Andrews [laughing] unfortunately. I come up for Blues matches a lot. I drank in the Garrison pub often [a studio set of the pub is where the Peaky Blinders meet in the BBC show] but now that place is sold and who knows what the future holds for it. I’d love to know who’s bought it.

Are you proud of the way Blues fans have adopted the Peaky Blinders uniform?
I couldn’t be more proud. Last season I went to the Charlton away game and there were loads of people there dressed up. I was so happy. Then the Bolton game, I wasn’t there, I was in America, but I saw footage and it was fantastic. They really looked the part.

Prior to Season One you said you wanted to put Birmingham on the media map. Now it is, what’s next?
It’s a work in progress. The show is just now coming out in the US, which was one of my main ambitions - to get this story, this Birmingham story out there. Yesterday, Stephen King, the novelist, tweeted "I’m watching this really cool, new British TV series". Isn’t that amazing? Stephen King! In America it’s just becoming this sort of cool, cult programme. To us Brummies the idea that Birmingham might become this cool city, to Americans, is just so great. And why not? Why shouldn't it be? 
Any plans to do more shooting on location, here?
Well, here’s the plan. There’s a group of people that have come together to do all sorts of stuff in Birmingham, and to try and enhance what’s going on in the city. My goal is to encourage writers and filmmakers to have no cringe about filming here. It could be Detroit, it could be Chicago, it could be Birmingham, it’s the same thing. I want to set up a sound studio, for filming, a bit like a small Pinewood or Shepperton Studios. In London all of the filming space is booked up by big American companies, shooting Star Wars and the like. I believe that South Birmingham, let’s say the NEC or somewhere like that, is perfect. They don’t even have to stay in Brum if they don’t want to, they can commute from London. Once you have a studio like that, things start to develop
around it. The costume people, the makeup people, the special effects, they all come. Start from nothing and build up.

Is that a dream or something you’re actively looking in to?
I’m actively doing it. I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but I want it to happen. I’m seeing all the right people to make it happen.
Lastly, does Birmingham need to change its persona?
The first step is to not care what people think. The second step is to have an absolute belief that what’s happening right next to you, in this city, is completely as valid as something that’s happening in LA or New York or Paris. Something about Birmingham that’s great, that others think is not so good, is that everything gets knocked down every ten minutes. It’s like LA in that sense. I’m in LA a hell of a lot and it reminds me Birmingham so much. Neither give a sh*t what people think. And I love that about Brum. I love that Birmingham once had a massive King Kong statue in the middle of the city, for no reason. It wasn’t like “we’re doing it for King Kong week”, you know? We just had it there. 

I heard it ended up on the floor of a car park.
Well the people I’m getting together with, that I mentioned earlier, we’ve actually found it. We found it lying down in Wales. We want to bring it back. We’ve got lots of things that we want to do and that’s one of them; bring back King Kong.

How did it get to Wales?
Don't know. Hitchhiked?
The new series of Peaky Blinders starts October 2nd, 9pm, BBC TWO 

MOVIE CHOICE: 
THE EQUALIZER
 

Denzel Washington edges into Liam Neeson territory with this fun shoot-em-up from Training Day director Antoine Fuqua. Adapted from the popular Eighties TV show, it pits a growling Washington against an army of portly bent cops and Eastern European rentabaddies. That’s all the plot you need to hear – you know from the title what this is, and it delivers exactly what it says on the poster. Fans of Washington hitting people with various DIY weapons are in for a treat. Fans of ludicrous casting will also have a field day, with Chloe Grace Moretz taking on a Russian lady of the night. It’s like watching Jason Statham play Stephen Fry, but we don’t turn to films called The Equalizer for documentary realism.  

TWO RARE GINS
LAND IN BRUM


Gin lovers, rejoice! The Jekyll & Hyde and Loki have got their junipery mitts on two very exclusive, small batch gins. The Jekyll are the first in the city to stock German-made Ferdinand's Saar (pictured). Infused with Schiefer Riesling and from a multi-award winning Prussian vineyard, the bar staff recommend it with Fentimans as a G&T, or in a Dirty Martini. 
If you're looking for something to take home, however, Loki are the only place in Birmingham to sell Cornish-made Tarquin's Dry - the bottle alone makes it a superb gift. Made in tiny batches of just 300, each bottle comes with its own, handwritten batch number. It was the gold award winner at the international wine and spirits competition, 2014.  

SO, ALIENS WEAR PRADA TOO?


We don’t like to be the one’s to break it to you but aliens have landed and apparently they have a penchant for Selfridges’ designer gear. We’ve been so busy bringing you everything that's sublime in Birmingham that we haven’t had time to provide our own image, but fortunately local artist, Robert Geoghan, has stepped into the breach and allowed us to share with you his painting of the morbid scenes. More interested in King Kong undertaking a siege of the Council House or the Dalek who seems to take issue with the free press down on New Street? He's captured them, too. Check out more of Robert’s collection in the cathedral grounds on Colmore Row (Friday 26 September), on the walls of Kings Heath’s Kitchen Garden Cafe, or here.
Venue: Bean enCounter, Salter St, Stafford, ST16 2JU
Choice: Route 66 Burger (£5.95)  Chooser: Chef 

Reasons to visit Stafford: 1. Route 66 Burger, 2. Route 66 Burger, 3. Route 66 Burger. And we’re not even making an infantile quip about Stafford - this unctuous angus patty of joy is just that wonderful. Dripping with cheesy goodness, satisfyingly set-off by pickled onions, tangy mustard and a crisp bun, Bean enCounter dares to go rare and the results are pink, messy and lip-smackingly glorious. Round things off with a nod to the South - the Ice Bean (£2.50) is a chocolate covered espresso bean and bourbon caramel ice cream and we can’t think of a way this flavour combination could be more right. Stafford, we thank you.
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"May you be in heaven a full half hour before the devil knows you’re dead." - Grace Burgess, Peaky Blinders

WORDS: Katy Drohan, Andrew Lowry / Imagery: Andrew Kulman Archive

Copyright © 2014 Birmingham Publishing Group Ltd, All rights reserved.



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