- "We're not the Peaky fucking Blinders unless we are together."
- —Michael Gray
Michael Gray is the son of Polly Shelby, the cousin of the Shelby siblings and a powerful and high ranking member of the Peaky Blinders. He is the Chief Accountant of Shelby Company Limited, a position that caused tensions between John Shelby and himself prior.
Character History Edit
Michael has Gypsy blood from his parents. His father died drunk, killed between a boat and a dock when he was young, thus he can't remember him. He has a deceased sister named Anna Gray.
Michael was taken from his mother Polly when he was five years old by the police. He lived with a foster family, Mr Johnson and Rosemary Johnson until he was 17, when he first met Thomas and became introduced to the Shelby family. His adopted mother and family used to refer to him as "Henry" for what is assumed to be many years.
It is also revealed that Michael was abused by a priest during his short time in foster care. It is hinted that Father Hughes was a part of this, and that Michael was possibly sexually abused as Hughes is hinted at being a pedophile, which fuels his hatred towards them in Series 3.
He appears to be left-handed, or at least signs his name with his left hand.
At school, he was top of the class in mathematics and did a night-school course in accountancy at Worcester College and did City and Guilds for six months. He also “knows horses”. Later, he becomes an accountant like his mother.
Series 2 · 1922 Edit
Thomas finds him for Polly. Michael sees him and his expensive car. Later he comes to Birmingham to find his real mother, and because he's bored with the village's life, he is determined to stay with Polly and his cousins.
Michael is slowly introduced to the Shelby family, under the careful watch of his mother. He heads to the races with his cousins Thomas, John, Arthur and Finn when Thomas goes to buy a horse. When Thomas's life is threatened, Michael witnesses one of Arthur's violent outbursts where he nearly beats a man to death. Later, when Polly asks Michael how the trip went, Michael does not inform her of Arthur's actions, and instead tells her that the trip went great.
Michael gets into a bar fight at the Marquis of Lorne when a man refuses to be in the same bar as his friend Isaiah because he is black. The fight stops when the barman shouts that Michael is Polly's son. Later, when he tells Arthur what happened, John and Arthur proceed to go and destroy the pub for the good name of the Shelby company.Michael Gray is thrown behind bars by Major Campbell for the burning down The Marquis of Lorne pub. Michael's beaten up in jail. Later, Michael knows from the guards that he's released because Polly had sex with Campbell in return. He grieves over what his mother did but he says cold-hearted words.
Later, Polly offers Michael money to take a train and move to London, away from the Shelby family. They say “I love you” to each other before Polly goes to kill Campbell. Finally, Michael resists her money. He thinks Polly want him to stay and he wants to make real money with Thomas.
Series 3 · 1924 Edit
Michael is now comfortable in his role as a Peaky Blinders accountant. He is more confident and daring, and is not afraid to be harsh to anyone in order to get the job done. He has a short affair with Charlotte Murray, a maiden that attended Grace and Tommy's wedding. He gives Charlotte cocaine, and when he has none himself, she questions him. He asks her if she only wanted to come to Birmingham because it was dirty, then laughs and realizes she only wanted to sleep with him because she thought he would be dirty. The two continue to see each other after the wedding. Charlotte is introduced to Tommy later in Michael's office.
When Tommy is in the hospital recovering from Father John Hughes's beating, Michael tells him he knew things about the priest. He knew things Hughes had done back when Michael was a little boy, and these things made Michael want to be the one to kill him if Tommy will teach him how to shoot. Tommy says shooting is easy, you just point and pull the trigger.
Michael later gets Charlotte pregnant, and John and Arthur tell him he needs to “marry the girl”. When Michael tells them that Charlotte doesn't want to keep the baby, John tells him about a woman who aborted two babies from women Arthur had impregnated. Michael says Charlotte will want the best, and Arthur says she is the best. Later, when Polly signs a contract adding Ada to Shelby Limited, Michael sets the appointment for the abortion.
Polly confronts Tommy about Michael doing the killing. Tommy tells her that Michael asked him to, and says if he tells her why it will be knowledge he can't take back so it’s best she doesn't know. Polly tears up as she realizes what her son experienced, and Tommy tells her he told Michael to "put a bullet in that fuckers head." Polly composes herself and says that if Michael kills the priest, she will bring the whole organization down on Tommy.
When the Grace Shelby Institute is opened, the Father orders Tommy to bring the children to his office so he can bring them to confession. As he walks away from Tommy, Michael enters the hall and stares at him, aghast, before the priest enters a room along with a gaggle of children.
Michael kills the Jewish man who came with Alfie Solomons during Alfie and Tommy's meeting. He later tells John and Arthur that Tommy said he handled it well, so they allow him and two others to go to the house where Charles Shelby is being held. Arthur tells the two men to kill the priest, but outside the house Michael orders them to stand down. Michael draws on Hughes but hesitates to shoot and a fight ensues. Michael pulls a knife, the other two men run in guns drawn, but Michael tells them "this bastard’s mine" and orders them to call Finn to stop the brothers from blowing up the train. Then he plunges his knife into the Father's neck and brings Charlie home to Ada Shelby and Polly. Polly notices the remnants of blood on Michael's face, and Michael walks away, stunned.
After leaving Charles with the girls, Michael meets with Charlotte at the abortion house. She asks where he'd been, and he tells her there was trouble and he can't stay. She begs him to, whispering pleas, but he says it’s family business, pays the abortionist, and leaves.
At the end of the season, Michael is arrested with the rest of the family. His charge is the murder of Father John Hughes.
Series 4 · 1926 Edit
Before the show shifts forward in time by two years, fairly recently after the events of series three, Michael, as well as John Shelby and Arthur Shelby are seen in prison. As guards from the prison begin to enter Michael's cell, he asks to see his lawyer and insists that there has been some sort of mistake. Michael as well as his cousins are sent to be hung for their crimes but are saved last minute when Thomas Shelby makes a deal with a politician to have them set free.
A time skip of two years takes place, setting the scene in 1926. Michael is seen in an office room of Shelby Limited, quickly finishing up some cocaine before Tommy enters. Michael informs Tommy of Jessie Eden, who is upset about the woman’s pay in one of the businesses run by Shelby Limited. Tommy then pulls a few vials of “snow” from Michael's coat but quickly changes the subject to Polly Gray, asking Michael how she’s doing. Michael explains that neither he nor his mother has been doing very well since the incident at the prison and that is why he feels the need to have the cocaine.
Michael visits Polly’s house and attempts to subtly confront her about her strange behavior, she catches on that Tommy had asked him to and grows irritated. Ada Shelby shows up and tells them that Tommy has called a family meeting to discuss the “Black Hands” they all received as a letter.
Tommy calls Michael and explains the situation with the Italian gang, he tells him to drop off Polly and Ada at Charlies yard before then going to inform John of the situation. When he is discussing what to do with John, gunfire begins to go off in their direction. Both John and Michael are shot, killing John and badly injuring Michael.
Later, Polly is seen with Michael as they enter a hospital. Thomas brings two “kids” with him to protect Michael from any further threat of Luca Changretta while he is in the hospital but Polly get angry at him, insuring that she doesn’t just want some kids, she wants soldiers.
Polly later visits Michael in the hospital after hearing that the surgery was successful and he would live. She tells Michael that the doctor said he took four bullets in the attack, one was live, one was ricochet, and the other two were “spent” after first passing through John. Polly expresses that she wants them to move to Australia, where they can get away from the Italians. Michael tells her that she needs to get better (referring to her mental state) to help Tommy so they don’t all get killed.
Sometime later, Michael's adoptive mother, Rosemary Johnson, visits him in the hospital. She says she read about what happened in the paper and gives him a bag of apples from the orchard. She explains that he can come back to their home at any time. She says Michael’s little brother misses him and that his adoptive dad passed away.
Later, a meeting is held in Michael’s hospital room to discuss business. Polly Shelby, Ada Shelby, Thomas Shelby, and Lizzie Stark all attend. Arthur Shelby was also meant to attend the meeting but ultimately did not show up.
Polly is later seen at a bar, meeting with Luca Changretta. She seemingly makes a deal that if Luca does not kill Michael, she will set up a way for him to get to Tommy.
During an operation to get to the Changrettas after the Shelby’s suspect they are trying to kill Arthur, they realize it was a distraction to get to Michael. Luca Changretta shows up at the hospital Michael is currently residing in, he holds a gun to Michael's face but reveals there are no bullets in it when he pulls the trigger. He tells Michael to let Polly know they have a deal. When Tommy and the others show up, Michael tells them that Luca heard them coming and ran away.
During one of Polly’s visits, Michael asks what the deal was and Polly tells him, although reluctant at first after he continues asking questions about it.
Later, when Thomas visits Michael, he states that he is going somewhere alone because of something Polly asked him to do. Michael realizes this is when Polly will keep her end of the deal and struggles to decide whether he should warn Tommy or not. He ultimately decides not to tell Tommy.
It turns out Polly was planning the deal with Tommy so he could be prepared to fight the Changrettas himself. Due to Luca finding out the deal was fake, Polly realizes Michael is once again in danger and sends him off with a few people so the Changrettas can’t find him.
After the Changrettas are taken down, Michael returns to meet with Tommy, Polly, and Ada. Tommy expresses that he is upset with Michael for not warning him about “Polly’s plan”, seeing that as far as he knew, he was letting Tommy die. Michael says that he did it to protect his mother. Tommy sends Michael to New York to expand the business there. Michael leaves shortly after for America.
Polly Shelby Edit
Michael loves his mother but is not afraid of challenging her authority. When Polly also refuses to allow him to work for his cousin, Thomas Shelby, Michael even makes threats so she will take him more seriously. Polly had Michael taken away from her many years ago, hence why here apprehension at letting him get deeper involved in the business. She doesn't want to let him go, he is the only thing she has and if she were to lose him she would not forgive Thomas.
John is Michael's cousin and the two are the closest in age out of all the Shelby's. In series 2 John looks out for Michael since he is the youngest of the boys and has only just been re-introduced into the family. John tells Polly not to worry about him, and let him join in with the rest of them when the boys go to a horse auction. Throughout series 2 John is seen play fighting and hugging Michael, in an attempt to make Michael less tense when he is around them.
Into series 3, their relationship changes due to Michael now being a more crucial part to the Shelby Company. Tommy, in John's eyes, is beginning to tell Michael more and he is more involved than John. John likens it to being a 'toy soldier' and being told to 'do this John, do that John', he thinks that Tommy doesn't care about him as much as he does Michael since his relationship with Tommy just seems to be taking orders from him.
All of this means that John begins to show a dislike towards Michael, almost a jealousy. Since Michael seems to hold a more important role in the business, as Tommy says himself 'legitimate business is the priority'. John, in general, becomes more hostile toward Michael. Although Michael wants to fit in with the brothers. John is merely taking his anger that he feels towards Tommy out on Michael. John's resentment towards Michael wears off through series 3 as Michael begins to take more of a physical role in the business, officially taking part in Peaky Blinder activities and showing more of an interest in illegitimate business. Michael turns to Arthur and John for advice concerning Charlotte's abortion and how to shoot a gun. This shows to John and Arthur that Michael is serious about his role in the gang and looks up to them. Also when Michael is on his way to kill the priest John offers him some more advice. Their relationship is complex, John clearly harbours resentment towards Michael as John would like to be viewed by Tommy the same way Michael is.
|Series 1 Appearances|
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|Series 2 Appearances|
|Episode 2.2||Episode 2.3||Episode 2.4||Episode 2.5||Episode 2.6|
|Series 3 Appearances|
|Episode 3.1|| ||Episode 3.3|| ||Episode 3.5||Episode 3.6|
|Series 4 Appearances|
|Episode 4.1||Episode 4.2|| ||Episode 4.4||Episode 4.5||Episode 4.6|
Series 2 Edit
- "In my village, there's this little wishing well. It's made of white bricks, right in the middle of the village green. Everybody says how pretty it is. But I swear to God, if I spend another day in that village, I'm going to blow it up with dynamite. Probably blow my hands off with it, but it'd be worth it. Just to see all those pretty white bricks spread over the pretty village green."
- Thomas: "You're going to call your mother. You're going to tell her you're getting the next train home. And when you get there, you're going to write a letter to Polly, saying when you're eighteen, you'll come back here and sort things out."
- Michael: "I just told you. I make up my own mind."
- Thomas: "Polly and I had a bet. One of us bets, you take the money and go. And one of us bets you'd still be here."
- Michael: "She wants me to stay."
- Thomas: "You know something, Michael? What Polly wants will always be a mystery to me."
- Michael: "I've decided. I want to make real money. With you."
Series 4 Edit
- "I’m gonna get better slowly. But you need to get better fast. Without you, he falls apart; and without him they’ll take us all. You’ve got to get us through this."
- "Have a good weekend."
- "I chose my mum."