Young hopefuls packed the streets when they queued up for auditions for “pivotal” roles in the smash hit Birmingham-set series Peaky Blinders.
A queue of applicants snaked almost half a mile round the streets of Digbeth, as they waited for their chance to be chosen to play a new character in the BBC Two TV drama.
After the success of the first series, which is set in post First World War Birmingham and based on a real Nineteenth Century gang called the Peaky Blinders, producers decided to call on local teenage boys to apply to be part of the show.
The show revolves around Tommy Selby, played by Cillian Murphy, and his gangster family who gain their name from sewing razor blades in the peaks of their caps.
More than a thousand wannabe actors waited in the frosty temperatures, with some hopefuls queuing from as early as 7am in a bid to make sure they met the casting crew.
Alderbrook School Pupil Harvey Ainsworth, 14, from Hall Green, said: “I study drama at school but I have never done anything like this. Maybe this could be my big break. I just have to be confident haven’t I?”
Producers were on the hunt for white males aged 13 to 19 and mixed-race males aged 15 to 17, and asked for people fitting the profile to come along on Saturday for a meet and greet as they hunt for at least three actors for the new series, due to air in autumn 2014.
The mysterious nature of the invitation meant that hopefuls were kept busy imagining what character they might play if they landed a part.
“It could be like homeless kids trying to join the Peaky Blinders or something,” said Alex Rigby, 15 from Kings Norton.
“It’s kind of mysterious the way they have put it.”
Alex, who spent seven years in drama school as a child, was joined by friend Brad Taylor, 15, a fellow pupil at King’s Norton Boy’s School.
Brad said: “Being from Birmingham will give us a bit more of an advantage over other people because sometimes when people put on a Birmingham accent it doesn’t sound quite right.
“It might be a bit more natural for the show. It feels more genuine if you have the accent.”
For three friends Sam Cole, 18, Brandon Fellows, 19, and Daniel Cooney, 19, the hours of queuing in the cold would be well worth the wait.
Daniel, from Erdington, said: “All three of us got through. What they did was take a head-shot of us and I’m assuming what they will do is have a look and see if you fit the appearance of the character.”
Brandon said: “It was quite brutal to be honest. But we all love the show, and these opportunities don’t really arise in Birmingham.”
Sam added finally: “Most things are centered round London these days. It’s good to have something local, especially with local talent.”
Executive Producer Jamie Glazebrook said he was overwhelmed by how Birmingham people had responded.
He said: “We couldn’t be more thrilled about the response we have had of the show from people in Birmingham. There are three plus roles available for the show, and some of them are really cracking parts that are going to be pivotal to the story.”