Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em because everyone’s favorite British-period-hipster-crime-drama is back! After an almost three year absence, Peaky Blinders returns to Netflix today for its sixth and final season. A lot, however, has transpired, both on the show and in real life, and fans may be left wondering what happened to one of the show’s central characters, Elizabeth “Aunt Polly” Gray, the formidable and charismatic matriarch of the Shelby clan and Peaky Blinders gang.
In the fall of 2019, Peaky Blinders aired its fifth season. Season 6 was to begin shooting in March 2020 but was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Filming resumed a year later but came to a sudden tragic halt when actor Helen McCrory, who played Polly, died on April 16, 2021, from breast cancer. She was 52. Her death meant that the entire season’s storyline needed to be rewritten and numerous scenes were re-shot.
Born Elizabeth Shelby, Polly was aunt to Peaky Blinders gang leader Tommy Shelby, his brothers Arthur, John and Finn, and their sister Ada Thorne. She kept the gang going while Tommy and Arthur were fighting in World War I and was a key member of their shell corporation, Shelby Company Limited.
From her first marriage, Polly had two children, Michael and Anna Gray, that were removed from her home in their youth and grew up without her. After being adopted, Anna died in Australia from fever. Meanwhile, Michael grew up in relative affluence before reuniting with his mother and cousins and joining the Peaky Blinders’ criminal activities, ultimately coming into conflict with his cousin Tommy.