Arthur William Shelby Jr. is a fictional character in the television series Peaky Blinders, and he is portrayed by Paul Anderson.
Arthur is the eldest of the Shelby siblings and a tough member of the Peaky Blinders. He is also Deputy Vice President of Shelby Company Limited and member of the ICA, acting as his brother Tommy Shelby's right-hand man.
- 1 Character History
- 2 Relationships
- 3 Quotes
- 4 Appearances
- 5 Image Gallery
Arthur is more brawn than brains. During the war in France, Arthur was a Sapper with his brother Thomas, digging very treacherous tunnels in order to place enormous amount of explosives under the enemy positions: a tactic used several times in the war to devastating effect at both the Battle of Verdun and the Battle of the Somme. It is suggested he may have served at Gallipoli through his distaste for Turks and the smell of stagnant water.
Series 1 · 1919
After returning from France, Arthur feels that he should be the head of the family business. However, he can't command the necessary authority and Thomas slowly starts to assume leadership.
When Chief Inspector Campbell comes to Birmingham, Arthur is arrested, beaten and questioned as the assumed leader of the gang, but knows nothing about any stolen machine guns.
Eventually, Arthur Shelby confronts Thomas telling him that he has no idea what is going on. Thomas tells him that the Peaky Blinders have the stolen guns and takes him to The Garrison Pub, which is now under Arthur's ownership.
Arthur continues to show his lack of guile, when he hints to his barmaid Grace Burgess that Danny Whizz-Bang is alive, allowing her to surmise that Danny's grave is where the Peaky Blinders have hidden the guns.
When his father, Arthur Shelby, comes back to Birmingham, Arthur Jr. takes the opportunity to prove to everyone that he knows business just as well as Thomas. He gives his father money without the permission of Thomas or Aunt Polly, but soon realizes that his father is a selfish liar. Arthur tries to confront his father before he leaves for good, but becomes intimidated by the man's strength and anger, knowing that he wouldn't win in a fight against him.
The events cause Arthur to re-evaluate himself and as a result, he attempts suicide by hanging himself. The plan fails when the rope tears from the hook.
Arthur and the rest of the Peaky Blinders eventually confront their rival Billy Kimber and help to clean Thomas Shelby's wounds after the shooting.
Series 2 · 1922
An increasingly unhinged Arthur continued to struggle with war trauma when he kills a young boy in the boxing ring by beating him to death. He is later confronted in The Garrison Pub by Mrs. Ross, the mother of the boy he killed. She pulls a gun on him, but it misfires and shoots the mirror behind the bar. Arthur lunges toward her, empties the gun of bullets and tells her that she’ll be compensated financially. Broken and furious, she flips over the table and screams, “Somebody has to stop you people”.
Arthur accompanies Thomas and the gang to the auctions to buy a racehorse, thus giving them a credible reason to infiltrate the racecourses dominated by their London rival, Darby Sabini. When assassins try to kill Thomas, the same uncontrollable rage takes over Arthur who brutally beats one of the assailants.
In London, Arthur, whose cocaine habit is worrying his younger brother, leads the Blinders in tearing up the Eden Club belonging to Sabini, which they plan to take over, quite hostilely.
Later, Arthur and John are drinking in The Garrison Pub, when his Aunt Polly's son Michael Gray and Jeremiah Jesus’ son, Isaiah, come in telling them of a scuffle they had in The Marquis of Lorne. Arthur and his brother John burn the pub to the ground with the barman inside, to protect the reputation of the Peaky Blinders.
When their supposed ally Alfie Solomons invites Arthur and Billy Kitchen over for Passover at the distillery, things escalate rather quickly after Alfie sacrifices the goat named after Thomas. Alfie shoots Billy Kitchen in the head and his men tie up Arthur to wait for the police to haul him off to jail for the murder.
In prison, Arthur is beaten badly. He gets a visit from his brother John, who tells him that Thomas has plans to get him released, not before mocking him: "You’ve tried to hang yourself twice, now the king’s going to do it for you”.
Thomas negotiates a deal with Alfie to have the murder charge against Arthur withdrawn just in time to join the Blinders and the Lees heading off to the races.
At the Epsom Derby, Thomas assassinates Field Marshal Henry Russell, which creates the diversion that Arthur and the gang need to hold up Sabini’s bookmakers and burn their licenses, while the police are distracted.
Series 3 · 1924
Arthur meets a woman. Due to Linda's family background, he finds some kind of faith in God (old testament). It is shown that Linda is pregnant with his child, who is later named as Billy Shelby.
He and Linda envision a life in California, away from their strained life in Small Heath. After becoming more and more religious he is shown to be a lot more compassionate and calm, this leads to him seeming weaker by the rest of the Peaky Blinders and is often picked on by John Shelby and Thomas Shelby. He seems embarrassed about this and as shown in Episode 2 he did participate in the fight outside one of the bars however washed his hands and went straight home, he was then shouted at and mocked by John Shelby. Despite his passionate love for Linda and her beliefs, he engages in infidelity and drug abuse.
Due to John's fight with the Changretta-family and Tommy's encouragement to war, Arthur and John capture Vincente Changretta. Just as Tommy was going to kill him slowly, Arthur pulls the trigger to make his death less painful, an action that really shows Arthur's development. Like the rest of the Shelbys, besides Tommy, Arthur is arrested by the police and taken away in the end of season 3, unable to escape to California with Linda.
Series 4 · 1925-1926
As the whole Shelby family is preparing to be hanged, Arthur is tense but calm about the situation. In order of the deal Tommy made with the British government, they are all saved from death in the last second. Arthur returns to working for the Shelby Company when the whole Shelby family receives a Black Hand from Luca Changretta, whose alliance is the New York mafia, in retaliation for the murder of his father. As war begins between the Italians and the Blinders, John is mortally wounded on Christmas morning 1925 by Italian gunmen.
Arthur is very moved by the death of his brother and feels guilty. He swears to be the one to kill Luca Changretta, but Linda and the faith in God stops him from it, leaving the task to Tommy. As Arthur is running one of the Shelby Company business buildings, two Italian men sneak in and attempt to kill him, but Arthur luckily survives. As the Shelby Company invests in a Gypsy boxing-talent (the son of the ally, Bonnie Gold), Arthur is getting suspicious about a man at an important boxing match against Solomon's fighter. When the man leaves the fighting arena, Arthur follows him and is seemingly mortally wounded.
At his funeral, Thomas is approached by the mother of the Changretta family, who demands all enterprises of the Shelby Company handed over to Luca. When the deal is about to be made, Thomas has outrun Luca by making a deal with the other New York mafia-families, specifically Alphonse Capone. All of Luca's blood-related men have been killed in Birmingham, so the rest of his men agrees to let Luca's bell toll. As Luca realizes he has lost the vendetta, he attacks Tommy, only to see Arthur walk right in and shoot him. With many believing Arthur is dead, he has the chance to pursue a new identity.
But Arthur chooses to stay in Birmingham and remain as a partner of the Shelby Company LM.
Series 5 · 1929
The series begins following from the Wall Street Crash on Tuesday, October 29, 1929. Arthur has assumed position as Chairman of the Board following Tommy's leave of absence and convenes a meeting when he hears of the Crash. Arthur tries to preside over the meeting but — much to Linda's dismay — Polly suggests that they should wait for Tommy's return before making any decisions. Arthur is happy to know that the company is not lost as they have diversified their portfolio and have investments all over the world. After Michael returns to Birmingham following the wall street crash with his new wife Gina, Michael has a tense standoff in the street with Arthur insulting Michael calling him a smelly dog due to him believing Michael is a traitor.
As the year goes on, Arthur and Linda begin to have relationship trouble, mostly as Linda does not believe Arthur is leading the company the right way and fears is losing control of the finances. Despite this, Arthur warns Linda to be a good wife and let him deal with everything else, essentially silencing her. This leads to Linda looking for a way to divorce Arthur, however she is shocked to find that nobody in Birmingham will divorce a Shelby and seeks out Lizzie for advice. Lizzie admits that she will have to go to London to divorce a Shelby.
Things between the two become more strained when Mosley reveals that he has heard news that Linda has been spotted with another man while married to him. This angers Arthur, who hunts down the man and slashes his face, seemingly leaving him for dead. He is later confronted by Linda, who is angry as all she did was talk to the man. Linda pulls a gun on Arthur, but is shot by Polly Gray before she has a chance to pull the trigger. After the bullet is removed, Arthur pleads with Linda to leave the Peaky life behind and run away with him, however she declines, admitting that she is thankful she didn't kill him as death would be too good for him.
Forgetting about Linda, Arthur witnesses Michael's plan to restructure the company with his wife Gina and him in charge and the rest of the family all but retiring, Michael says he can be the man Linda wants him to be but Arthur says fuck Lina' after Tommy angrily rejects Michael's proposal and banishes him and Gina from the family Arthur leaves growling angrily at Michael, who has a clear smirk on his face telling him 'fuck the americans'. Arthur is privy to the plan to assassinate Oswald Mosley, playing a key role of arming Alfie Solomons' men. He also takes charge of ensuring Barney is in position with a clear line of fire at Mosley, reiterating that the plan is to shoot Mosley after Tommy gives the go ahead. When the plan fails, however, Arthur takes Tommy home, expressing his concern that Tommy is slowly losing his mind.
Thomas is Arthur's younger brother and the two share a complex but close relationship. Despite being the oldest of the Shelby brothers, Arthur is not the leader of the Peaky Blinders, which is something that often comes between the two brothers, with Arthur frequently trying to prove himself to Tommy. Despite this, Tommy purchases their local pub, the Garrison, putting Arthur in charge — therefore there is an element of trust between the two brothers.
Furthermore, the relationship between Thomas and Arthur becomes strained when Arthur attempts to commit suicide on many occasions, believing himself to be a failure. While Tommy shows his brother that he cares about him, he laughs at his failed attempts at suicide, simply retorting to do it properly next time.
Arthur Shelby Sr.
Arthur and his father initially shared a close, but similarly complex, relationship. Arthur was one of the only members of the Shelby family — and the Peaky Blinders as a whole — to welcome his father back to Birmingham, having left them as children in the care of their aunt. While Tommy and Polly do not welcome him back, Arthur finds himself caught up in his fathers plans to take money from the Peaky Blinders for his own use. To do this, he tricks Arthur into believing that they are to open a casino business, however his father tricks him, taking his £500 (worth around £6,500 present day) and disappearing.
Sometime between the years of 1922 and 1924, Arthur meets religious Linda, a devoted Quaker, and they marry. She helps Arthur put his life back together and deal with his mental health issues, firstly by helping him stay sober as much as she can.
Arthur is seen having a soft spot for Grace in the first series and often asks her for help with business calculations when he is having trouble. He accidentally slips out family business information to Grace, but makes sure to inform Thomas that Grace has been asking questions about how the family runs their business. In the third series, when Grace married Thomas, Arthur casually refers to her as his 'sister', indicating that he has welcomed her into the family despite her past history with the Shelby's.
When Arthur first meets him, he tells Michael that he already knew him when he was a child: “I used to throw you out the window so John could catch you.” Just like John, Arthur treats Michael like a brother and makes sure to keep an eye out for his safety . Since Michael lost most of the money while in America and due to being suspected of betraying them Arthur along with Tommy acts very aggressively and mistrusting toward Michael.
Both Arthur and John were initially the ones who looked after Finn during a night out however once John dies, Arthur needed a right-hand man which Finn was the only option as he was his brother but when Finn implies that he's unable to kill even when Arthur is under gunpoint, Arthur states that "In the end, it is God who pulls that fucking trigger anyway." This illustrates that he doesn't necessarily care about that but rather having his brother there with him.
Arthur is known to see women, two at a time on occasion, sometimes four but always multiples of two. As seen at the beginning of the first series where he goes to the movies with two girls and receives sexual favors from both. It is unknown if these women are prostitutes. He also sleeps with the girls who work in The Eden Club while he runs it.
- "We're kings! Kings of the fucking world!"
- "This place is under new management...by order of the Peaky Blinders!"
- “I heard the blackbird sing.”
- "I'm emotional, I just don't know what fucking emotion it is."
- "In the end, it's God who pulls that fucking trigger anyway. We don't get to decide who lives and who dies."
- "Tell your boss what you saw here today. Tell him you don't fuck with the Peaky Blinders."
|Series 1 Appearances|
|Episode 1.1||Episode 1.2||Episode 1.3||Episode 1.4||Episode 1.5||Episode 1.6|
|Series 2 Appearances|
|Episode 2.1||Episode 2.2||Episode 2.3||Episode 2.4||Episode 2.5||Episode 2.6|
|Series 3 Appearances|
|Episode 3.1||Episode 3.2||Episode 3.3||Episode 3.4||Episode 3.5||Episode 3.6|
|Series 4 Appearances|
|The Noose||Heathens||Blackbird||Dangerous||The Duel||The Company|
|Series 5 Appearances|
|Black Tuesday||Black Cats||Strategy||The Loop||The Shock||Mr Jones|