- "We're not the Peaky fucking Blinders unless we are together."
- —Michael Gray
Michael Gray, introduced in the second season, 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 causes tensions with John Shelby. After being wounded by Luca Chaingretta's men , Michael leaves for America at the end of Series 4 where he leads the Shelby Company Limited in New York. In New York, he loses millions of Shelby Company Limited money due to not selling the shares before the crash of Wall Street in 1929 as Tommy had instructed him. He also meets his future wife Gina and marries her after she becomes pregnant with his child. Michael returns to England and is treated with contempt from the Shelby family as they believe he is a traitor, even his own mother Polly and especially Tommy. Throughout Series 5 Michael plots to replace Tommy as head of the company, likely due to the manipulation of Gina. When Michael says that they should restructure the company, with everyone retiring and him the sole leader of the company with Gina, Tommy angrily rejects the proposal and banishes Michael and Gina from the family, telling them to leave and never come back. He serves as the secondary antagonist of Series 5 and the upcoming Series 6.
Character History[edit | edit source]
Background[edit | edit source]
Michael's father died drunk, killed between a boat and a dock, when he was young, so he doesn't remember him. He has a deceased sister named Anna Gray.
Michael was taken from his mother Polly by the police when he was five years old. He lived with a foster family, Mr Johnson and Rosemary Johnson until he was 17, when he met Thomas Shelby and was 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 paedophile. This fuels Michael's 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”.
Series 2 · 1922[edit | edit source]
Thomas finds Michael, who comes to Birmingham to reconnect with Polly, his birth mother, and because he's bored with his life in a tiny village.
Michael is slowly introduced to the Shelby family, under the careful watch of his mother, who wants to keep him out of the family's true business. He heads to the races with 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.
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. Later, when Michael tells Arthur what happened, John and Arthur destroy the pub in the name of the Shelby company.
Afterwards, Michael and Arthur are imprisoned by Major Campbell for the burning of the pub. Later, Michael hears from the guards that he's being released because Polly had sex with Campbell in return, something Michael finds hard to forgive.
Later, Polly offers Michael money to move to London, away from the Shelby family. They say “I love you” to each other before Polly goes to kill Campbell. In the end, Michael stays, because he thinks Polly truly wants him to, and because he wants to make "real money" with Thomas.
Series 3 · 1924[edit | edit source]
Michael is now comfortable in his role as a Peaky Blinders accountant, becoming more confident and daring and not afraid to be harsh to get the job done. He has a short affair with Charlotte Murray, a guest at Grace and Tommy's wedding. Charlotte is introduced to Tommy later in Michael's office.
While Tommy is in the hospital recovering from Father John Hughes's beating, Michael tells him he "knows things" about the priest, and offers to kill Hughes himself if Tommy allows it.
Michael 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 has aborted two babies from women Arthur impregnated. Michael arranges the abortion.
Finding the bullet meant for Hughes in Michael's desk, Polly confronts Tommy about Michael doing the hit. Tommy tells her that Michael asked him to; although he is discreet about the reason, Polly infers what her son experienced, and Tommy tells her he told Michael to "put a bullet in that fucker's head." Polly composes herself and says that if Michael kills the priest, she will bring the whole organization down.
When the Grace Shelby Institute is opened, Father Hughes 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 with a gaggle of children.
Michael kills the man who came with Alfie Solomons during Alfie and Tommy's meeting, in defense of Tommy. 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 gains the upper hand and plunges his knife into Hughes' neck, and brings Charlie home to Ada Shelby and Polly. Polly notices the blood on Michael's face and hands, and Michael walks away, still in shock.
After leaving Charles with the girls, Michael meets with Charlotte at the abortion house. She asks where he's been, and he tells her there was trouble and he can't stay. She begs him to, 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, charged with the murder of Father John Hughes.
Series 4 · 1925[edit | edit source]
Before the show shifts forward in time by two years, Michael, along with John Shelby and Arthur Shelby, are seen in prison. As guards from the prison enter Michael's cell, he asks to see his lawyer, but they are sent to be hanged for their crimes despite an appeal. They are saved at the last minute when Thomas Shelby makes a deal with a politician.
In 1925, Michael, now with a cocaine habit, is still in his role as chief accountant of Shelby Company Ltd, after Polly, John, and Arthur have all left. Michael informs Tommy of Jessie Eden, who is upset about the woman’s pay in one of their businesses. Tommy changes the subject to Polly, 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, but she catches on and becomes irritated. Ada Shelby visits and tells them that Tommy has called a family meeting to discuss the “Black Hands” they have all received.
Tommy calls Michael and explains the situation with the Italian gang; he tells him to drop off Polly and Ada at Charlie's yard before informing John and Esme of the situation. When he is discussing what to do with John, they are ambushed by mafiosos, killing John and badly injuring Michael.
Polly visits Michael in hospital after hearing that surgery was successful and he will live. She tells him that she wants them to move to Australia together, where they can get away from the Italians. Michael tells her that she needs to "get better", in order to help Tommy so they don’t all get killed.
Sometime later, Michael's adoptive mother, Rosemary Johnson, visits him in the hospital, to tell him that he can come back to their home at any time, and that his adoptive dad passed away.
Polly meets with Luca Changretta, and seemingly makes a deal that if Luca does not kill Michael, Charlie, or Arthur, she will set up a way for him to get to Tommy. Later, having distracted the family, Luca shows up at the hospital and holds a gun to Michael's face, but pulls the trigger on an empty chamber. 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; later, Michael presses Polly to tell him about the deal, which she does.
Later, when Thomas visits Michael, he tells Michael that Polly has arranged for him to go to an even alone; Michael realizes this is Polly's set-up, and struggles to decide whether to warn Tommy; in the end, he decides to let Tommy go. Finally, the true nature of the plan is revealed: Polly's betrayal was a fake to set up Luca for Tommy. However, Luca survives the ambush, and so Polly sends Michael away with a family of Gypsies to keep him safe.
After the Changrettas are taken down, Michael returns to meet with Tommy, Polly, and Ada. Despite the plan being a ruse, Tommy is upset with Michael for not warning him about it, since 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.
Series 5 · 1929[edit | edit source]
Michael returns to Small Heath following the Wall St. Crash in 1929; despite being warned by Tommy to sell before the crash, he held on and has lost Shelby Company Limited huge profits. During his time in Detroit, he began a relationship with Gina Gray, who returns to Small Heath with him and whom he marries en route as she was pregnant with his child. When he arrives in Birmingham, his relationship with the Shelby family is tenuous after Tommy receives word that Michael is plotting against him, leading to a tense standoff in which he is questioned in the street by Polly and Arthur, and then made to stay under surveillance at a hotel until it is proven he is not a traitor. His relationship with Tommy in particular is extremely strained, though Tommy tentatively allows him back into the family business by including him in his latest venture, the import and export of opium.
Together with Gina, Michael formulates a plan to expand Shelby Company Limited in the US, restructuring the company with him in charge and Tommy (and the rest of the family, save Finn) all but retiring. When Michael reveals his plan at a family meeting in the final episode, Tommy rebukes him; Gina pushes Michael to reveal the real reason he wishes to take control, which is that those in the US no longer wish to deal with the Peaky Blinders. Tommy responds by throwing Michael's proposal into the fireplace banishing Michael and Gina from family business; warning Gina not to 'Fuck with the Peaky Blinders' Arthur growls angrily at Michael, Polly then slaps Michael across the face looking at her son angrily before giving Gina a cold look and walking off knowing full well that she is really the one behind Michael's scheme. When they are alone, Gina tells Michael that they will have to do things a different way hinting that they betrayed Tommy and alerted Oswald Mosley about his attempted assassination by the Peaky Blinders.
Relationships[edit | edit source]
Polly Gray[edit | edit source]
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 she doesn’t want to let 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 Shelby[edit | edit source]
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.
Appearances[edit | edit source]
|Series 1 Appearances|
|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 3.2||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|
Quotes[edit | edit source]
- MMM"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."
Michael:"Paco es gei"
- 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."
- "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."
"Fuck Off Arthur."
- "I chose my mum."