- "The end of a rope has been this man’s destiny since the night he was born."
- —Campbell about Thomas Shelby
Chester Campbell (originally Chief Inspector Campbell in Series 1, then promoted to Major in Series 2) was an Inspector in the Royal Irish Constabulary hired by Winston Churchill, to locate and recover the missing consignment of guns from the Birmingham Small Arms Company factory. While in Small Heath, Birmingham, however, despite locating the guns, he developed a vendetta against the Peaky Blinders and the Shelby family in particular.
Campbell served as the main antagonist of the first and second series.
Chief Inspector Campbell built his reputation in Belfast, Ireland, where he was tasked with ridding the city of crime and corruption. In addition to criminal elements and gang activity. During this time, he served with the father of Grace Burgess.
He did not fight in the First World War, to which several characters later refer, including Thomas Shelby and Winston Churchill. This is something of a sore spot with Campbell, with Thomas, in particular, making frequent comments about his "reserved occupation".
Series 1 · 1919
When the Peaky Blinders accidentally acquired a crate that contained Lewis machine guns, ammunition, semi-automatic rifles and pistols with shells, Churchill sends Inspector Campbell to Birmingham to clean up the city and find the guns.
Campbell first arrests Arthur Shelby, assuming that, as the eldest brother, he’s the leader of the Peaky Blinders. He asks Arthur what he knows about the robbery and beats him when he doesn’t give Campbell the answers he wants. However, he eventually learns from Grace, a spy he’s placed in The Garrison Pub, that the younger brother Thomas is really the leader of the gang.
Inspector Campbell then raids homes in the Blinders’ neighbourhood, while Thomas and the gang are away at the races. Amongst other things, he starts looking for Freddie Thorne, a communist agent, who escapes. Campbell then tells Polly Shelby that he wants to meet with Thomas. However, Thomas first strikes a blow back at Campbell by paying everyone to build a bonfire with pictures of the King on Watery Lane, leaking the story to the newspapers. Word about the event spreads to Winston Churchill, who calls Inspector Campbell to express his displeasure.
When Thomas finally meets Inspector Campbell, he makes a deal for the special policeman to leave Thomas’s men and business alone. He tells him about his planned expansion onto the racetracks and business with Billy Kimber and that, once his business is done, he’ll tell Campbell where the guns are. Campbell reluctantly agrees to the plan.
With Freddie Thorne now married to Ada Shelby, Thomas delivers the address of Stanley Chapman instead, another communist who is holding 200 pents in cash given to the Communist Party by the Russian government. He later dies in police custody. Campbell also promises to let Freddie and Ada leave the city, although he later states to Sergeant Moss that a promise given to the Peaky Blinders means nothing.
Grace discovers that the Shelby family hide their contraband at moorings and junctions. Campbell searches them for the stolen guns, but find only cigarettes and whiskey. Later, Grace learns that Ada is giving birth to Freddie's son and tells Inspector Campbell, who raids the Shelby home and takes Freddie away.
Thomas tells Inspector Campbell about an Irish man, Malacki Byrne, who is trying to buy the guns from him. He makes a deal that he can give Byrne to the police if the Inspector helps him with it. At the meeting in The Garrison Pub, Campbell has the police take their time coming to Thomas's aid, who is almost killed.
Later, Grace meets with Inspector Campbell and tells him where she believes the guns are hidden, in exchange for promising that he will not harm Thomas. Inspector Campbell finds the stolen machine guns, all except one, in Danny Whizz-Bang's grave, as Grace had said. Considering the operation over, Grace officially resigns. To her shock, Campbell proposes to her. Grace kindly declines the proposal and Campbell angrily realises that it is because of Grace's feelings for Thomas.
Inspector Campbell gathers up the policemen and raids The Garrison Pub looking for Thomas, but when Campbell finds out that Thomas has escaped with Grace, he calls off the mission. Campbell visits outside of Grace's home and sees from the window that she is with Thomas and leaves.
Afterwards, Thomas learns that Campbell is at Mr. Zhang’s brothel and mocks him. Campbell retorts, saying that Thomas's heart will be broken by the time the day is over.
Winston Churchill telephones to praise Inspector Campbell for a job well done and Campbell tells him that before he leaves he has a plan for the Peaky Blinders so that they don’t go free. He informs BillyKimber of Thomas's plans to betray him at the Worcester Races. As the Peaky Blinders and Billy Kimber's men converge for a gang war, Inspector Campbell ensures that the area will be free of policemen so the two gangs can hopefully kill each other. However, the gang war ends with only Billy Kimber and DannyWhizz-Bang dead.
In the end, Inspector Campbell follows Grace to the train station and points a gun at her. It is later revealed that Grace survived her confrontation with Campbell, by shooting him through her handbag in the leg.
Series 2 · 1922
Fast-forward two years and Campbell is now a Major and a Chief of Staff in the Intelligence Service (presumably MI5). He also walks with a wolf-headed cane due to Grace's bullet in the leg. Major Campbell is sent back to Birmingham by Winston Churchill to arrange the assassination of Field Marshal Henry Russell.
Major Campbell renews his acquaintance with Thomas Shelby when he interrupts Darby Sabini's men from killing Thomas. Later, Campbell visits Thomas in hospital, aware that he killed Eamonn Duggan, a fact he intends to hold over Thomas to use him as an assassin.
Campbell meets with Thomas, along with Irene O’Donnell and Donal Henry, the pro-treaty Irish. After a short discussion, Thomas refuses to carry the assassination and exits the meeting. Campbell goes after him, telling him he has no choice. Thomas reveals that Donal is a spy and the only way he’ll carry out the assassination is if Henry is killed. Henry’s body is soon found hidden in a pile of coal and Thomas starts planning the assassination.
Major Campbell puts pressure on Thomas by arranging for his brother Arthur to be hauled off to jail for a murder he didn’t commit and his cousin Michael arrested for burning down The Marquis of Lorne pub. When Thomas confronts him, he smugly reveals that he doesn’t think that Thomas truly fears his own death, so he had to keep him under leash by arresting a few family members to make him come to heal.
Polly Shelby is livid that her son Michael got involved and takes matters into her own hands to try and get Michael out of jail. Major Campbell offers to sign Michael's release form, in exchange for Polly providing him a sexual favour. Polly is disgusted by the act, but then reluctantly pleasures Major Campbell, he - major Campbell - then attacks and rapes Polly.
Later, Campbell gets a telephone call from Thomas, who tells him that he is about to sleep with Grace who is back in London. Meanwhile, Thomas botches Campbell's assassination plan by blowing up the Field Marshal’s residence so he’ll have to relocate and the assassination can take place where Thomas wants it to and on his terms: Epsom Racetrack on Derby day.
At Epsom, Campbell meets Thomas in the bar before the assassination, where the Major states that he has "the love of God and the certainty of salvation", whilst Thomas is destined to damnation.
Shortly after the assassination is carried out, the police gather around the King, leaving the premises unprotected. Polly corners Major Campbell in a phone booth whilst he’s on the phone with Winston Churchill and, despite his pleading, she shoots him in the heart and exits the bar. He falls to his death. People start to notice the blood and call for help.
In season one, Grace Burgess is revealed to be an undercover agent working to recover the lost guns under his instruction. Prior to their arrival in Birmingham, little is known of their relationship beyond that he had worked together with her father in the past.
Early in the season, Inspector Campbell exhibited what seemed to be fatherly concern and affection for Grace, when he tells her to be careful in her undercover work around the Peaky Blinders and particularly, Thomas Shelby. He tells Grace that her father would've been proud of the work she's done.
As the season progresses, however, Inspector Campbell becomes more explicit about his affections for her. This culminates in a marriage proposal after the stolen guns are found. Her rejection comes as a surprise to him, despite the fact that she explicitly asked him to spare the life of Thomas Shelby, not in the capacity of an agent, but asking for his word on the matter "as a gentleman". His surprise quickly turns to anger as he deduces Grace's feelings for Thomas. In the first series finale, he draws a weapon on Grace at the train platform before she leaves; however, she fires first with a gun hidden in her bag, wounding him in the knee and leaving him with a permanent limp.
The relationship between Thomas and Campbell is one of the most important relationships during the first and second series. Campbell is hired by Churchill to investigate the Peaky Blinders, but quickly becomes fixed on Thomas directly — particularly due to his relationship with Grace, who Campbell himself wishes to wed. When he finds out that Thomas and Grace are involved, the relationship between the two becomes more complex and Campbell begins to feel a personal resentment towards Tommy.
Campbell's resent and jealousy towards Tommy eventually leads to Campbell to work against him, hiring him to kill people on orders from the Crown (Winston Churchill himself). Eventually, Campbell hires the Ulster Volunteer Force to capture and kill Tommy, however his efforts are thwarted by Churchill himself.
In the second series, Polly attempts to convince Campbell to release her son from prison by offering information. Campbell declines and when asked what it is that he wants, he makes it clear that he requires a sexual encounter for this "favour." Campbell then goes on to rape Polly, but he does releases her son. At the end of series 2, it is Polly that shoots and kills Campbell.
|Series 1 Appearances|
|Episode 1.1||Episode 1.2||Episode 1.3||Episode 1.4||Episode 1.5||Episode 1.6|
|Series 2 Appearances|
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- Over time, it is slowly revealed that Campbell has little respect for women. Firstly he is seen to have injured a prostitute during his sex act. Later, during the events of Season 2, he begins to pay for sex regularly from his Landlady who was a Madam for a prostitute house, showing little regard for her. Furthermore he grooms Polly into doing him a sexual favour in exchange for the release of her son, convincing himself that she was a willing partner and even wanting her to look and declare herself weak. Ironically, it was also Polly who would then end his life.
- "God damn you for soiling your uniforms!"
- "God help those who stand in our way!"