Steven Knight

He created Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? He got an Oscar nomination for writing 2002’s Dirty Pretty Things. And he turned Birmingham into the coolest place on the planet with Peaky Blinders. Now Steven Knight is back in Brum with This Town, his fictional BBC drama set in the world of ska and two-tone in the early 1980s. As the show reaches its final episode this Sunday on BBC One (April 28) , Knight sits down with NME to talk music and movies – including the forthcoming big-screen Peaky outing, his Maria Callas biopic with Angelina Jolie and his move into the Star Wars universe with New Jedi Order.

Hi Steven, what inspired This Town?

“I wanted to do a Birmingham and West Midlands story. And I remember as a kid at school, people would get these 45s, these singles, that would come from Jamaica. And they’d play them and everybody loved them because they had lyrics that would never make it onto the radio (they were quite suggestive). In Coventry, lots of people were suddenly listening to ska music. And then people started making their own versions of it. Skinheads and young Black people [were mixing] without there being trouble. It was just a strange thing that happened in that location at that time, and I just thought it would be great to tell a story with that as the background.”

This Town
‘This Town’ tells the story of Coventry’s iconic music scene. CREDIT: BBC

What was your go-to music in your youth?

“I never defined myself according to music. I was listening to Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, and folk music and country music, Hank Williams, all sorts of weird stuff, as well as reggae. I was the youngest of seven kids. My sisters loved the ’60s, I remember them listening to The Beatles. My brother was into Bob Dylan, my older brother was listening to ska. Another brother was listening to blues music. So there was all sorts going on in the house.

Is there one track that you absolutely love that made it onto the show?

“[Jimmy Cliff’s] ‘Many Rivers To Cross’ is my favourite. It’s a beautiful tune but the words are so sad. I think a lot of that music… it’s really full of longing and sadness and regret. And yet often – not that particular track, but often the music is forgiving the world for being so horrible. And I think that’s part of the appeal. I am drawn to those melancholic melodies that also have a real drive to them.”

The title is presumably a reference to The Specials’ ‘Ghost Town’?

“It is. What I didn’t ever want to do is make this about a version of a real band. Anyone could find references – ‘oh, this is about the actual emergence of this band or that band.’ And so you can’t divorce it completely from that. I just think it’s such a great title. It’s weird how many people do know those two words as the first words of that fantastic song.”

Do you have ideas for season two?

“Oh my god! Yes! I want to take these characters into unexpected places.”

Peaky Blinders
By order of the Peaky Blinders… Cillian Murphy as Tommy Shelby. CREDIT: BBC

How far advanced are you on the Peaky Blinders movie?

“It’s gonna happen. It’s gonna happen this September. I’m just doing the final polishes, which will continue up until the day before we start shooting. But we’re there. We’ve got everything sorted, we’ve got all the commitments we need, we are ready to go. I think the film is gonna be a step up again, and it’s gonna be great that Peaky fans can meet in one place and watch it. The budget will be bigger, but also because we know we’re ending this chapter, we’re all going to try to do our best. Cillian [Murphy] is really up for it. So I can’t wait for it to start shooting.”

Of course now, Cillian is an Oscar winner too…

“Isn’t it amazing? I’m so pleased for him because he deserves it. After every award that he won, he would text and say, ‘I really can’t wait to be doing Peaky.’ Confirming that none of this was going to change what we’re going to do next.”

Do you think audiences are going to be shocked or delighted by what happens in the movie?

“I hope shocked and delighted and horrified and then delighted again and then shocked again!”

Steven Knight
Steven Knight in 2016 with the cast of ‘Peaky Blinders’. CREDIT: Getty

You’ve also written Maria, with Angelina Jolie playing opera singer Maria Callas. What drew you to that? She’s such an iconic figure…

“Maria Callas has such an incredible, profound story, where she was amongst all of the big moments of that period of history. You can’t shy away from it. I think it would be easy to be intimidated, but it’s best not to be otherwise you will only do stories that are small. Because you feel safe. I love to do different things and the more different they are from one another, the better it is.”

Do you think people will be stunned by Angelina Jolie’s performance?

“She’s such an actor. Wow. I mean, you’ll see in this… it’s absolutely captivating… I think it’s the best performance I’ve ever seen her put in.”

You’ve also dipped into the Star Wars universe with New Jedi Order, which will see Daisy Ridley reprise her role as Rey. What can you say?

“I can tell you I’m doing it! It’s going well, yes. But yes, I am getting [into] that universe and it’s a wonderful universe. I love it. And it’s good people. Again, when you get to that level, you find that the people who are there are there for a reason.”

Would you direct a big-scale Hollywood project – you directed Locke with Tom Hardy in 2013, for example…

“No, not really. It would have to be a very, very exceptional thing, because I don’t think of myself as a director. I’m a writer who occasionally directs. If I’ve written something that no-one else will direct – if they think there’s no point – then I’ll do it!”

‘This Town’ concludes on BBC One on May 28 at 9pm. All episodes are available on BBC iPlayer now

The post Steven Knight on ‘This Town’ and his big-budget ‘Peaky Blinders’ movie appeared first on NME.


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


 © amin abedi 



Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?