The Shelbys finally returned last night after more than two years of absence in the sixth and final season of Peaky Blinders, which, according to Deadline, has set a new viewership record for the BBC’s Brummie gangster thriller.
It feels like the premiere episode alone burned through an entire season’s worth of narrative, and audiences were there for it. According to the overnight viewing figures, the first episode was watched by 3.8 million people, making it the show’s biggest debut to date, surpassing even season five’s whopping 3.7 million average.
Considering the fact that the premiere episode aired on Sunday and in a time slot that faced strong competition, this is a huge accomplishment for showrunner Steven Knight and his crew. It’s also worth noting that overnight figures don’t account for other platforms like BBC iPlayer. And if accumulated, the viewership would be much higher.
As for what happens in the opener, narrative-wise, the story essentially picks up where the season five finale left off, with Tommy Shelby attempting suicide after getting bested by Oswald Mosley. The series also subtly deals with Polly Gray’s absence from the final season while also paying tribute to actress Helen McCrory.
Where the show develops from here is as exciting as it is enigmatic, though the executive producer has already made it clear that the story won’t end with the series finale, continuing through a feature-length movie that’s currently in development.
Peaky Blinders will continue next week on March 6.