Aimee-Ffion Edwards plays Esme Shelby, the glamorous and sophisticated wife of the ruthless gangster Tommy Shelby in the award-winning TV series Peaky Blinders . Before she took on this role, she was relatively unknown to UK audiences, having only made two small appearances in two different TV shows between 2008 and 2011. But since she took on the role of Esme Shelby, Aimee-Ffion Edwards has been catapulted into stardom and has also bagged herself an Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her role as Esme. Esme Shelby – A Peaky Blinder With A Dark Past


Esme was born into a family of gangsters. Her father was a kingpin who controlled most of Birmingham and with his violent death, Esme had to pick up where he left off. Despite her protests, she has to don suit and tie for business meetings and is charged with commanding her little brother’s gang, but it doesn’t mean she can’t defend herself when it comes to hand-to-hand combat. Although she appears to be a tough as nails gangster, Esme has a romantic side in which holds dear despite being married to her cousin Thomas. As an actress in five episodes of BBC series Peaky Blinders, Aimee-Ffion Edwards will always be known as Esme Shelby.

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Characters that make an impression

What separates a great character from a poor one? Think about it. The poor character is always out of place, inconsistent, and (sorry to say) boring. There’s something wrong with them that makes us think, I don’t like that person. Maybe they have an annoying voice or they’re always cracking jokes when everyone else around them is dead serious. But good characters—the kind we love—are different: They seem at home in their own skin and act (and speak) just as we would expect them to.

Esme Shelby - A Peaky Blinder With A Dark Past
Esme Shelby – A Peaky Blinder With A Dark Past

What sets the show apart from others?

For me, it’s working with Cillian. I love him. He’s a good friend to have on set because he’s always laughing and making everyone feel relaxed. He works so hard on set but has a great sense of humour about everything. He never takes himself too seriously, but at the same time he knows when it’s important to be serious and get down to work. The show is great as well because there are not many period dramas around at the moment and they certainly don’t usually look like they do in Peaky Blinders! I really enjoy getting into character and pretending that I’m in 1920s Birmingham!

Peaky Blinders is addictive

Just when you think it couldn’t get any more dramatic, it does. The fourth season sees Esme’s character, Grace Burgess step into her formidable aunt’s shoes as matriarch of the family. Although she is headstrong and doesn’t take guff from anyone, she is also on a dangerous path. She feels conflicted about her feelings for Tommy (Cillian Murphy) even though she knows he has a woman in his life that he loves very much, Linda (Kate Phillips). Tommy may feel something for Grace too but it could spell trouble for all three of them if they let their emotions lead them down a dark path. It won’t be easy but I hope they find a way to work out their complicated love triangle.

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Perhaps, more than any other character on Peaky Blinders , Esme is one to watch over season two. Her dark past, seemingly limitless potential and determination to do what she thinks is right makes her a fascinating character. She’s clearly not afraid of violence or getting her hands dirty (as we saw in episode three), but it will be interesting to see if she can keep up with Tommy as he moves into his new role as leader of The Garrison. And perhaps most importantly for fans of Tommy and Esme: Will they ever get together? They’ve been dancing around each other since series one, but maybe it’s time for them to make a move…

Esme Shelby - A Peaky Blinder With A Dark Past
Esme Shelby – A Peaky Blinder With A Dark Past

Did they change the actress for Esme in Peaky Blinders?

They did indeed! The role of Esme Shelby has been recast with actress Aimee-Ffion Edwards replacing Saskia Reeves. Reeves portrayed Esme in series 1 and 2, but was unable to return for season 3 due to scheduling conflicts. Edwards is known for her roles in Silent Witness and is due to appear as Gwen Dawson in Happy Valley. Here’s what we know about Esme and her role in season 3… In TV series Peaky Blinders, based on crime gang The Peaky Blinders, played by Cillian Murphy (pictured above), Tom Hardy and Sam Neill, Esme isn’t one of the main characters but she does play a pivotal part.

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Why did Aimee-Ffion Edwards leave Peaky Blinders?

The actress, 31, recently admitted she found filming on set quite tough and struggled to stay in character as Esme when not shooting. She said: It can be quite tough – it’s emotionally gruelling to do those scenes. I was finding it hard – it was quite draining. It’s so in-depth that you have to become that person, but then you go home and have your life afterwards. You really miss certain things about yourself. You just can’t be someone else all day every day.

How old is Aimee-Ffion Edwards?

37 years old (born 11 May 1980)

How tall is Aimee-Ffion Edwards? : 5ft 8in (173 cm)

How much does Aimee-Ffion Edwards weigh? : 140 lbs (64 kg)

Who is Esme to Thomas Shelby?

Esme is Thomas’ younger sister, who holds a lot of power behind him. She has an incredibly dark past and overcomes many challenges in her life that make her more fragile than she would like to admit. Her role on the show is largely manipulative and deceptive. As viewers, we see that Esme is smarter than she seems; however, nobody else seems to know just how smart she actually is. Overall, Esme proves that you shouldn’t judge someone based on their past—she’s one of a kind in every way.

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