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Steven Knight’s best films and TV shows - from Peaky Blinders to SAS Rogue Heroes
We round up Steven Knight’s five best films and TV shows, including Spencer, Taboo and Locke, ahead of the release of his adaptation of SAS Rogue Heroes on BBC One.
He was part of the team that developed Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, he’s been nominated for an Oscar, and he created Peaky Blinders - so it’s safe to say that Steven Knight knows success.
But is Knight’s biggest hit still to come? The Birmingham-born TV and film writer, director and producer is behind a new adaptation of SAS Rogue Heroes for BBC One, which has got fans of the book very excited indeed as they await the action-packed scenes.
Coming up, Knight has adapted the Charles Dickens novel Great Expectations into a limited series for BBC One, starring Olivia Colman.
He’s also written an adaptation of the award-winning WWII novel All the Light We Cannot See starring Mark Ruffalo and Hugh Laurie, for Netflix, and is writing Ferrari, a drama about race car driver and entrepreneur Enzo Ferrari, for Apple TV+.
Here, we round up Steven Knight's top 5 must-watch movies and TV shows - from Locke and Spencer to Peaky Blinders and Taboo.
1. SAS Rogue Heroes (2022)
Steven Knight’s most recent work is SAS Rogue Heroes, a six-part adaptation of Ben Macintyre’s bestselling book of the same name about the formation of the SAS - the world’s first and greatest Special Forces unit.
The anarchic wartime drama is brought to life by a stellar cast, including Sex Education’s Connor Swindells as David Stirling - founder of the SAS - alongside Jack O’Connell (Skins), Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones), and Dominic West, who is also set to portray the then-Prince Charles in season 5 of The Crown.
In an interview with Gary Ryan from NME, Knight reveals that the appeal of adapting the book came from the unbelievable, against-the-odds true story behind it, as well as the fact his dad served in the military.
“This group of young men, from a range of classes - which is unusual for Britain - who were military but renegade and rebellious and contemptuous of authority, took it upon themselves to invent a new form of warfare,” he explains.
“And they succeeded in turning around the course of the war. It’s one of the most remarkable achievements in the 20th century in terms of military endeavour.”
The first reviews are in, and it looks like a must-watch, with NME writing: “SAS Rogue Heroes is a rollicking tale that pinballs from action-packed set-pieces (kamikaze parachute jumps, raids on enemy bases) to absurd moments to heart-wrenching loss – all in the blink of an eye.”
SAS Rogue Heroes begins at 9pm on Sunday 30 October on BBC One, with all episodes then available on BBC iPlayer.
2. Peaky Blinders (2013-)
Peaky Blinders is undoubtedly Steven Knight’s most famous work. Since he created it for BBC Two back in 2013 it has run for six seasons - the last of which aired on BBC One in 2022.
The BAFTA-winning, gangster period drama follows a criminal gang - led by fierce boss Tommy Shelby (played by Cillian Murphy) - in post-World War I Birmingham, who sew razor blades into the peaks of their caps and rule the streets of Brum through fear.
It was actually partially inspired by Knight’s life growing up in Small Heath, south-east Birmingham. His dad, George, used to show horses in scrap merchants' yards - a sight we'd later see in episodes of Peaky Blinders. He told RTS:
“I used to go in there as a kid and you would see the Peaky Blinders world. It was full of the last remnants of what Birmingham used to be: stolen stuff, scrap, all kinds of things. It was like an Aladdin’s cave… It was that flavour of the last of the old Birmingham that I tried to put into Peaky.”
Peaky Blinders recently scooped two National TV Awards, with Knight accepting the award for Best Returning Drama in person, as he revealed production for the spin-off Peaky Blinders film starts in spring 2023.
Peaky Blinders seasons 1-6 are available on BBC iPlayer and Netflix.
3. Spencer (film) (2021)
Steven Knight wrote the screenplay for Spencer, a reimagining of what might have happened during Princess Diana and Prince Charles' stay at the Queen’s Sandringham Estate in December 1991.
Knight revealed to The Telegraph that it was difficult to cast the role of Princess Diana, as many actresses were nervous about what the reaction to the film might be.
“There was a sense that ‘if even Naomi Watts couldn’t do it’ [in 2013's Diana]...” he said.
Eventual choice Kristen Stewart, he explained, had no reservations: “She read it and loved it and was prepared to do all of the stuff required to get it right.”
It was a bold move for the Twilight actress, but Stewart was nominated for the Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, and Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Actress, for her portrayal of Diana, and Knight's film received multiple 5-star reviews from film critics.
Spencer is available on Prime Video.
4. Taboo (2017-)
Steven Knight joined forces with Tom Hardy and his father, Edward 'Chips' Hardy, for Taboo, the BBC One dark period drama which the trio co-created in 2017.
Set in 1814, Taboo follows James Delaney (Hardy), who returns to England after spending 12 years in Africa, to take over the family business after his father's death.
Speaking to Deadline at the time, he revealed that the reason he works well with Hardy: “I think what helps is that we don’t socialise, we don’t really know each other, we purely work together.”
Knight plans to make two more seasons of Taboo. In November 2021, he confirmed that six of season two's eight episodes had been written, with a potential filming date of late 2023, due to Hardy's schedule.
Taboo season 1 is available on BBC iPlayer and Netflix.
5. Locke (film) (2013)
Steven Knight began his long-running, working relationship with British actor/producer Tom Hardy in the 2013 feature film, Locke.
The psychological thriller film stars Hardy in the title role of Ivan Locke - a dedicated family man and successful construction manager, whose life unravels when he leaves work and receives a shocking phone call.
Knight wrote and directed the movie, which has an impressive 91% rating on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes - with critics praising Hardy's performance, who is the only character seen on screen during the movie.
Locke is available to buy or rent on Prime Video and the BT Player.
Best of the rest: Steven Knight movies and TV shows:
Dirty Pretty Things (film) - Writer (2002) - Oscar nomination
Redemption (film) - Writer/Director (2013)
Hummingbird (film) - Writer/Director (2013)
Allied (film) - Writer (2016)
Serenity (film) - Writer/Director (2019)
A Christmas Carol - Writer/Adapted for TV (2019)
See - Creator/Writer (2022)