In Spotlight: Stephen Graham’s 9 best movies and TV shows - from The Irishman to Peaky Blinders

As Stephen Graham returns to his role in Code 404 on Sky Comedy and NOW, we look back at some of his best television and film performances on both sides of the pond.

Updated: 9 August 2022 - 1.59pm
Kevin Cummins/Getty Stephen Graham

From The Irishman to Line of Duty, Stephen Graham is one of the most talented and hardest working actors in Britain today.

Merseyside-born Graham has made a name for himself in hard-hitting dramas such as the This Is England franchise and Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York.

We look back at some of his best TV and movie roles, below.

1. Peaky Blinders - Hayden Stagg

After much anticpation, Stephen Graham joined the sixth and final season of Peaky Blinders in the third episode, playing a Liverpudlian dock worker called Hayden Stagg.

Ada Shelby (Sophie Rundle) revealed earlier in the episode that Stagg had been stealing from the Peaky Blinders' stash of opium and selling it on for a profit, so Arthur Shelby (Paul Anderson) and his gang were sent to the docks to give him a beating.

Instead, Stagg got into Arthur's head with a powerful monologue about addiction, calling him "comrade" and admitting that he got hooked on morphine in the First World War.

Graham is set to share some scenes with Cillian Murphy's character Tommy Shelby later in the series, as he revealed he got starstruck during filming with him.

Speaking to Chris Moyles on Radio X, he revealed: “Cillian’s such a wonderful actor, he’s amazing and what a lovely, lovely, lovely fella.

"To the extent where there I had to pinch myself a couple of times because I was sat there in a scene with him, doing a rehearsal and I’ve kinda gone, ‘Ahh that’s Tommy Shelby!'"

Stream Peaky Blinders series 1-6 on BBC iPlayer.

2. Code 404 - DI Roy Carver

Code 404 Key Art

Stephen Graham plays DI Roy Carver, one half of a cop duo alongside Daniel Mays as DI John Major in Sky's comedy series, Code 404. The pair are a formidable double-act at the top of their game... That is until Major is killed in the line of duty in the first episode.

Speaking about working on comedy rather than his usual dramatic roles, Stephen Graham told BT TV: "This was something different to what I’ve been doing recently... Danny [Mays] is lovely to work with and one of the funniest people I know. To spend six weeks with him just messing about, to me was a no brainer really." 

Stream Code 404 Series 1-3 on Sky Comedy with NOW.

3. Save Me - Melon

Womaniser Nelson “Nelly” Rowe’s (Lennie James) life is turned upside down when his estranged daughter, Jody, goes missing, and he is initially suspected of being involved. Drawn into searching for the teenager, Nelly discovers the worst aspects of society. Stephen Graham plays Fabio “Melon” Melonzola, Nelly’s best friend. Nelly leans on his computer skills and difficult past to help him track down Jody.

Stream Save Me and Save Me Too on Sky Atlantic with NOW.

4. The Irishman - Anthony 'Tony Pro' Provenzano

Stephen Graham starred alongside Robert De Niro and Al Pacino in Netflix film The Irishman, which was nominated for a whopping 10 Oscars.

He played real life mob moss Anthony 'Tony Pro' Provenzano, who rose into the top ranks of organised crime. Speaking to The Guardian, he called starring in the film his "Champions League final" moment.

He explained: "These are the people I grew up watching, revering and wanting to emulate, so for that little kid from Kirkby to be working with them was amazing."

Stream The Irishman on Netflix.

5. The Virtues - Joseph

Channel 4 series The Virtues saw Graham reunite with Shane Meadows in a moving drama about one man confronting his traumatic past. Graham stars as Joseph, an alcoholic who spirals downwards when his young son moves to Australia. Forced to examine his life, Graham returns to Ireland to visit his sister and address the abuse that has shaped his life. Often a difficult watch, The Guardian named the series one of the best shows of 2019 for its ‘devastating depiction of everyday heroism.’

Stream The Virtues on BritBox and All 4.

6. Line of Duty - DS John Corbett

Line of Duty John Corbett BBC

Graham appeared in series five of Jed Mercurio’s hit crime drama Line of Duty, playing DS John Corbett, an undercover police officer who disappears while investigating an organised crime group. As with previous series of the show, the plot’s twists and turns often leave you questioning which side Corbett is on, as the team continue to investigate him and search for the elusive ‘H’.

All six seasons of Line of Duty are on BBC iPlayer.

7. Little Boy Blue - Detective Superintendent Dave Kelly

Based on the true story of the murder of Rhys Jones, an 11-year-old boy who was shot dead on his way home from football practice in Liverpool, Graham was cast as Detective Superintendent Dave Kelly, who investigated the case. He received a Royal Television Society award for his work on the show, which the judges called “unquestionably brilliant, showing extraordinary range and skill”.

Watch Little Boy Blue on BritBox.

8. Boardwalk Empire - Al Capone

Epic gangster drama Boardwalk Empire saw Graham reach international fame for his role as the notorious Al Capone. Martin Scorsese, who Graham reunited with on The Irishman, directed the pilot episode and shaped the tone of the series. The series is set in the 1920s, after prohibition laws introduced in the US gave rise to powerful gangsters who profited from smuggling alcohol into the country. The series ran for five series between 2010 and 2014 and received 57 Emmy nominations.

Stream Seasons 1-5 of Boardwalk Empire on Sky Atlantic with NOW.

9. This Is England - Combo

One of Stephen Graham’s best-known roles is that of Andrew ‘Combo’ Gascoigne, a racist skinhead, in Shane Meadows’ This Is England franchise.

Graham first starred in the 2006 film, which told the story of Shaun, a 12-year-old boy growing up in the Midlands in the early 1980s who befriends a group of skinheads. Graham reprised his role for the three television spinoffs, receiving a BAFTA nomination for his work on This is England ‘90.

The 2006 This is England film is available to buy on Prime Video.

This is England '86, '88, and '90 are all available on All 4.