Cillian Murphy Said Helen McCrory ‘Died While Shooting’ ‘Peaky Blinders’ Season 6: ‘There Was This Huge Absence on the Set’

While the BBC network hasn’t given the official Peaky Blinders Season 6 release date just yet, it’s clear the new season is coming soon. Fans can expect to see all of their favorite characters, like Thomas Shelby and the rest of the Shelbys, return to the small screen. Unfortunately, Aunt Polly Gray actor Helen McCrory died in 2021. Tommy Shelby actor Cillian Murphy reflected on her death and the “huge absence” he felt on set without her.

Helen McCrory played Aunt Polly Gray in ‘Peaky Blinders’

'Peaky Blinders' Season 6 star Cillian Murphy and Helen McCrory sitting on a stage at an event for the show. Cillian Murphy plays Thomas Shelby and Helen McCrory plays Polly Gray
Cillian Murphy and Helen McCrory during a Q&A | Anthony Harvey/Getty Images

Fans adored Polly Gray in Peaky Blinders. Helen McCrory played the aunt of the Shelby family siblings, though she often acted as the matriarch of the family. Polly served as a sounding board for Thomas Shelby when it came to Shelby Company Limited. And while she’s able to make rational decisions while leaving her emotions behind, her life with the Shelbys got more complicated when her son, Michael Gray, entered the family business.

In Peaky Blinders Season 5, Michael and his wife, Gina Gray, wanted to take Shelby Company Limited overseas to the United States. Tommy refused for Michael and Gina to do this, angering the couple. Then, at the end of the season, someone sabotages Tommy’s plan to assassinate Oswald Mosley. Many fans believe Michael and Gina sabotaged Tommy, which will surely put Polly Gray in a bad position. Additionally, Polly’s love interest, Aberama Gold, dies during the attempted assassination.

Cillian Murphy talked about the ‘absence on the set’ without Helen McCrory

Helen McCrory died in April 2021 from cancer, and it seems very few people knew about her illness until her death. Cillian Murphy reflected on working with her through the years for The Guardian. He reflected on how he felt closest to her on the set of Peaky Blinders. The characters of Thomas Shelby and Polly Gray were also key to making the show fantastic to watch.

“On Peaky Blinders, I think the key relationship was always between my character, Tommy, and her character, Polly,” Murphy wrote. “It was complex. She was his aunt, but sometimes his mother and sometimes his sister. At times, they were almost a husband and wife team.”

Toward the end of the piece, Murphy talked about shooting Peaky Blinders Season 6 without her. “She would have been in series 6 if the pandemic hadn’t put everything on hold,” he continued. “We were just five days away from shooting in March 2020 when the lockdown was announced. Helen was the heart of that show and it was hard to make it without her. Really hard. There was this huge absence on the set. We all felt it. She died while we were shooting. She was too young.”

Is Helen McCrory in ‘Peaky Blinders’ Season 6?

Is Helen McCrory in Peaky Blinders Season 6 at all? It’s difficult to say whether the show creators were able to film any scenes with Polly Gray for the new season. Given what Cillian Murphy shared in his writing with The Guardian, it seems McCrory might not be in the season at all. In that case, show creators will likely have to create a story for her absence.

Creator Steven Knight said the new season will at least feature a tribute to McCrory. “In the show, you certainly will,” he told a fan who asked about a tribute. “There are plans for other things which may precede broadcasting,” he added.

Peaky Blinders Season 6 airs in early 2022 on the BBC network.

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