Peaky Blinders Ending Explained: Finn, the Feature Film, Dr Holford

Peaky Blinders ended (for now) with a twist-filled finale. With major spoilers, we break down how it leaves things for the follow-up feature film.

Peaky Blinders season 6 episode 6 Cillian Murphy as Tommy Shelby
Photo: BBC

Warning: contains spoilers for the Peaky Blinders finale ‘Lock and Key’.

Towards the end of the Peaky Blinders finale, when all the ‘black cat’ traitors had been killed or ousted from the Shelby family, the gang gathered in the woods of the recently dynamited Arrow House for a farewell banquet. Ada and Karl, Linda, Arthur, Charles, Charlie, Curly, Johnny Dogs, Duke, and housekeeper Frances… everybody but Lizzie, who’d left Tommy after he slept with Diana Mitford, and the newly disowned Finn, raised a glass to “family” as Tommy said his goodbyes. Tommy believed he was travelling to his death, but had a surprise on the way. We break that down, along with other questions fans may have after ‘Lock and Key’.

Why Was Finn Banished From the Family?

Peaky Blinders Finn Shelby

Because he failed the test set for him at Arrow House and chose his friend over his family. Ever since Arthur coerced former professional footballer Billy Grade into helping to fix matches for the Peaky Blinders, Grade has worked alongside Finn Shelby at the betting shop. Over five or so years, they became close, drinking whiskey, snorting cocaine and womanising together. Finn didn’t realise that Billy was also working as an informant, telling Peaky Blinders secrets to the IRA. After a drunken Finn let slip that the gang was going to shoot a fascist on the night of Mosley’s Bingley Hall rally, Grade phoned Lorna McKee, and the IRA stopped the assassination by killing sniper Barney Thompson, Aberama Gold and Polly Gray.

After Jack Nelson violently forced Billy Grade into becoming an informant for his operation, somehow Tommy found out (possibly because Billy was passing information to Gina Gray, whom Tommy had surveilled and was blackmailing over her adultery with Oswald Mosley). Tommy called a meeting at the Garrison in order to feed Billy false information to lure the IRA into a trap. He let Billy believe that he trusted Michael Gray, and that Arthur would be alone and vulnerable on a certain night. Billy duly passed that information to Gina, and both Michael’s plan to kill Tommy and the IRA’s plan to kill Arthur (a favour to Jack Nelson in exchange for guns) were then scuppered by Tommy’s scheming.

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At Arrow House, Duke and Isaiah lured Billy and Finn into the kitchen where they told Finn to shoot Billy for being a traitor on pain of being exiled from the family. Finn refused, and then took the gun, but aimed it at Duke, pulling the trigger on two empty chambers. Duke took the gun back from Finn and told him that Charlie had known he would try to turn on them and so told him to leave the first two chambers of the gun empty. Duke then shot Billy Grade in the head and told Finn he was no longer a member of this Shelby family, by order of the Peaky fucking Blinders. Finn left, swearing revenge on Duke, which is sure to come up in the forthcoming Peaky Blinders feature film.

Who was the street preacher outside the Garrison Tavern?

That was a brand new character for the finale named ‘Lazarus’ – an apt biblical name relating to returning from the dead. He’s played by Sleaford Mods’ Jason Williamson. Lazarus was there in place of Jeremiah, who was part of the ambush on the IRA assassins.

What Will Happen in the Peaky Blinders Film?

Conrad Khan as Duke Shelby in Peaky Blinders

In January 2021, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight announced that, contrary to proposed plans for seven seasons (for years he’d been saying that five was the goal, but that came and went), the TV show would finish after six and be continued by a feature film. That’s currently the plan, as we discuss in more detail here. Production on the film is currently pencilled in to start in early 2023, which means fans aren’t likely to see it until 2024 at the earliest.

Speaking to Digital Spy ahead of the season six launch, Knight confirmed that Tommy and Arthur would be a part of the film, which is rumoured to be set during WWII. The timescale makes sense, as season six took place around 1935-6, each new visit to the Shelby family tends to jump a few years, and WWII broke out in 1939.

The introduction of Conrad Khan as Duke Shelby, and his new rivalry with Finn Shelby (see above) is likely to provide plot for the film, as is the prominence of high-ranking Peaky Blinder Isaiah Jesus, the son of street preacher Jeremiah. Ada’s burgeoning political career (Tommy suggested that she run for his seat when he was facing death) could also feature, as might Stephen Graham’s new character Hayden Stagg, who was cast to great fanfare in season six, but has so far only featured in two scenes. And of course, it wouldn’t be Peaky Blinders without Tom Hardy’s seemingly unkillable Alfie Solomon.

A Caryn Mandabach production that airs on the BBC and Netflix, it’s not yet confirmed where the film will debut, but it’s likely to have a multi-platform release, with a limited cinema run plus a BBC One/BBC iPlayer and Netflix airing. We’ll bring you more information when we hear it. One mini-question we hope the film explains is…

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What did Tommy whisper to Duke at the banquet?

After Tommy raised his toast to the family and choked up telling Charles to look after Lizzie and that he wanted him to be “the best…”, he whispered something in Duke’s (newly exposed thanks to his Peaky Blinders haircut) ear. Whatever it was is bound to feature in the Peaky Blinders movie. An instruction? A request to keep Charles and Lizzie safe? A business strategy for the ‘dark’ side of the Shelby Company? More information on where the bodies are buried? Another piece of ‘tachipen’? Time will tell.

Why Dr Holford Invented the Tuberculoma Diagnosis

Peaky Blinders season 6 finale Aneurin Barnard as Dr Holford

Unbeknownst to Tommy, a year or so into his and Oswald Mosley’s political partnership, Mosley arranged for his close friend and Nazi-sympathiser Dr Michael Holford to become Tommy’s personal physician. For three years, Holford was Tommy’s private doctor, until the time came when Mosley and pals decided that Tommy’s time was up.

Mosley, Holford, and fellow fascist Dr Helen Rutherford conspired to convince Tommy that he was dying of an incurable disease, as a way to push him towards taking his own life. After Tommy’s daughter Ruby died of Tuberculosis, they faked X-Rays and an urgent diagnosis of inoperable tuberculoma in the brain stem. Holford delivered the diagnosis and recommended Tommy seek a second opinion from Rutherford at St Thomas’ Hospital. She kept up the lie, and from episode four of season six, Tommy believed he had a maximum of 18 months to live.

Mosley and Diana’s Co-Conspirators

Peaky Blinders 6-2 Mosley and Diana

After making the financial arrangements to look after his family, dynamiting his house and holding a farewell banquet in the woods, Tommy went on the road alone in a wagon to prepare for death. A month in, he flipped a coin to decide whether to to shoot himself and it came up heads. He took off his wedding ring and pocket watch and left them in the wagon with photographs of Grace, Polly, John, Ruby and Lizzie and Charles, before loading a gun with a bullet engraved with his name and holding it to his head. That’s when he heard Ruby’s voice telling him to come outside. In a vision, Ruby told him that he wasn’t sick and that he needed to relight the fire.

In the cinders of his camp fire, Tommy saw a newspaper report on Oswald and Diana’s Berlin wedding. In the photograph and on the guest list? Dr Michael Holford and Dr Helen Rutherford. He realised the scam and went to confront Holford, who admitted everything. When Tommy was about to kill Holford, the bell sounded for 11 o clock – the time Armistice was declared in the First World War. He let Holford life and returned to his camp, which had been set on fire on Holford’s orders (not knowing the “fucking gypsies” in his top field were Tommy Shelby). Tommy watched the flames, then mounted a horse and rode away.

What was the song playing over the closing credits?

That was Lisa O’Neill’s cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘All the Tired Horses’, the second Lisa O’Neill song to feature in season six after episode four’s ‘Blackbird’, and the second Bob Dylan song to close out a season of Peaky Blinders after season four ended with Richard Hawley’s cover of ‘Ballad of a Thin Man’.

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Where will Tommy go now?

Peaky Blinders 6-6 Cillian Murphy as Tommy Shelby

Now he’s “back from under the ground”, Tommy could go straight back to Small Heath, or he could go anywhere seeing as his death has effectively been faked for him thanks to Holford’s tuberculoma scheme and the burnt wagon. Arthur knew about the diagnosis and Tommy instructed him that when it was time, he would give Arthur the wagon’s location so that he, Charlie and Curly could burn his body and “rake through the ashes for silver and gold.” Arthur and co. will be on their way to the wagon, only to find it already burnt, but with Tommy’s watch and ring among the cinders. That means if Tommy chose to, he could ride away and become somebody else entirely, forgetting his family and his past. He could work as a spy for Winston Churchill, or live an itinerant life, or go abroad with everybody thinking that Thomas Shelby OBE, MP was dead.

Peaky Blinders season six is available to stream in full on BBC iPlayer in the UK.