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Elizabeth "Polly" Gray (née Shelby) is the matriarch of the Shelby Family, aunt of the Shelby siblings, the treasurer of the Birmingham criminal gang, the Peaky Blinders, a certified accountant and company treasurer of Shelby Company Limited. She managed the Peaky Blinders when the Shelby boys were absent during the Great War. She is the unofficial head of the Shelby Family and often advises Thomas Shelby on the gang's business.

Character HistoryEdit

BackgroundEdit

She's from criminal Gypsy family the Shelbys, daughter of Mr. Shelby and Birdie Boswell. Polly tells her son Michael Gray that his Grandmother was Gypsy Princess named of Birdie Boswell. Polly always wears the Black Madonna. Arthur Shelby Sr. calls her Pollyanna.

When she's young and the police were after her father, he used to take the family out, living in the wood.[5] When she was sixteen she became pregnant, the father of her child has never come back and she aborted the child on her own. [6]

She later married a river gypsy Gray and had two children, Michael and Anna Gray. However, her husband died drunk, squeezed between a boat and a lock[7] and both her children were taken from her by the parish authorities, in part due to the intervention of a neighbor.[8]

Aunt Polly has looked after her nephews Arthur Jr., Thomas, John, Finn and niece Ada since they were young, managed the Peaky Blinders and its businesses, while the Shelby boys were fighting in WWI.[9]

Series 1 · 1919 Edit

Polly Gray series1

Polly Gray in series 1

After John, Arthur and Thomas return from the war, they take over control of the Blinders, with Thomas eventually assuming leadership. However, Polly remains the matriarch and heart of the family. Thomas keeps many things close to his chest, such as the fact that his men accidentally acquired the wrong crate during a routine pick-up, instead taking a crate that contained Lewis machine guns. Polly is the only one that Thomas will confide in. When she is eventually able to wheedle the information out of him, she tells him to dump the guns before he gets hanged for having them.

Ep1 2 b

Polly and Chester Campbell

Polly finds out that Ada is pregnant with the child of Freddie Thorne, who has since fled the city from Inspector Chester Campbell. Polly tells Ada about how she was 16 when she first became pregnant and how she almost died from the abortion, hoping that the father of her child would come back. She tells Ada that they should take the train the following day, for Ada to get a proper abortion.

The next day at the train station, Freddie arrives as they are about to board the train. He proposes to Ada and she says yes, but he tells Polly that they are staying in Birmingham and that he is not afraid of Thomas. However, when Polly tells Thomas, he confides that he promised Campbell that Freddie wouldn’t come back. Polly tries to offer Freddie 200 pounds and a ticket to New York for him and Ada, but he again refuses to leave.

Ep1 4 a

Polly and Freddie

At John's wedding to Esme Lee, Ada’s water breaks and Polly takes her home to deliver the baby boy. She asks Thomas to allow Freddie to come see his son and he agrees. However, after the baby is born, the police raid the house and take Freddie away. Polly is furious and bursts into the Garrison Pub, yelling at Thomas and calling him a liar.

When Arthur brings home his absentee father Arthur Shelby Sr. having happened upon him in a boxing club, Polly is disgusted to see the "thieving whore-monger" who abandoned his family. When Thomas walks in, his reaction is the same. While his father proclaims that he's a changed man, Thomas does not trust him. She is not surprised when he cons his son, Arthur, out of five hundred pounds.

Later, Polly tries to convince Ada to forgive Thomas. She tells Ada about her children and how the police took them away from her - Thomas is the one who brings strength and power to the Shelby family, so that the same thing won’t happen to Ada and that Thomas will get Freddie out of jail. Polly brings Ada and her son to the next family meeting and Ada tells Thomas that she forgives him, as long as he does what Polly promised.

Polly&Grace2

Aunt Polly and Grace

On Black Star Day, when the Blinders learn that they have been betrayed by Inspector Campbell and his spy Grace Burgess, Polly tells Thomas that she'll deal with Grace. Polly visits Grace at The Garrison Pub just as she is about to leave. They share drinks and Polly tells Grace that though Thomas might accept Grace into the family, Polly herself never will. She tells Grace that if she sets eyes on her again she’ll kill her.

Finally, Polly is seen with Thomas, Arthur and John at the Garrison, sharing a toast to the success of the Shelby family.

Series 2 · 1922 Edit

Polly has become withdrawn and depressed, and visits a medium because she had a dream about her daughter. The woman, Mrs. Pryce of the Patch, tells her that her daughter is dead, and Polly breaks down into tears. However, Esme later warns her that the gypsy woman is a charlatan.

Thomas is able to discover what happened to Polly's children. The girl died of spring fever, but he locates the boy, Michael. Thomas will not give Polly the address where Michael is, and tells Polly that her son must choose to contact her if he wants. Even being threatened by Polly holding a gun to his head will not move Thomas. Polly fires her gun at the ceiling in impotent rage before heading out on a bender of epic proportions at the newly re-opened Garrison Pub. She is shown using opium and drinking alcohol, as well as having sex with a young man.

Polly Gray series2

Polly Gray and her son Michael Gray in series 2

Polly is greeted the next morning by her son Michael, who has arrived in Birmingham to see her, and they catch up after almost eighteen years apart. As Michael offers to be the new accountant, Polly talks to Thomas and insists that her son not be involved in the illegal activities of the Peaky Blinders and negotiates his pay.  

When her son is thrown behind bars by Major Campbell for the burning of The Marquis of Lorne pub, Polly takes matters into her own hands to get Michael out of jail. Major Campbell offers to sign Michael's release form, in exchange for Polly having sex with him. He specifically humiliates and both verbally and physically abuses her, demanding that she be 'small and weak' and cry for him. Polly is disgusted by the demand, but reluctantly accepts in the end, thinking only of her son's freedom. However, Campbell rapes Polly forcefully despite her acquiescence.

Ep2 5 Polly Michael

Polly Gray and her son Michael Gray

The next day, she goes to pick up Michael, who states that the guards told him what she has done to have him released.

Before going to Epsom, Polly lays cash in front of Michael, telling him to take the money and start a new life for himself in London, away from the "Birmingham life", which is what she should have done at the start, but now has business to attend to. At Epsom, Polly corners Major Campbell in a phone booth whilst on the phone with Winston Churchill. Despite his pleading, she shoots him in the heart and exits the bar.

Series 3 · 1924 Edit

In 1924 Polly attends to Thomas and Grace’s wedding. A Russian Anton Kaledin comes and speaks with her because it's Aunt Polly who Thomas Shelby trusts most. She knows he's a spy, then he's killed by Arthur.

Polly also meets a portrait artist Ruben Oliver who plans to seduces her. Later Polly approaches Ruben to commission him to paint her portrait. While he's painting, he divulges that his main objective for seducing her.
Episode 3 3 a

Polly and Ada Shelby

In the war against the Changrettas, Polly tells the boys to compromise but Thomas don't. Finally, Grace is shot. When there're conflicts in the family Polly manages to diffuse the situation with a call for family unity.

Thomas knows that Father Hughes is the traitor who passing information on to the Soviets and plans to kill him. Steaming drunk, Aunt Polly makes a big mistake, she goes to confession at church that her family is planning to murder "a man of the cloth". Father Hughes knows it's mean him and Thomas's plans fall apart.

Episode 3 4 b

Polly with her nephews' wives Linda, Esme and Lizzie Stark

Polly goes to see Ruben Oliver when portrait's finished and they have sex. The following day, Polly learns that Michael plans to kill the Father Hughes and why Michael asks to do. Polly grieves over her son's painful however she doesn't want her son to kill.

Charles Shelby's kidnapped by Father Hughes. He wants Thomas to blow up the train and wants the Russians' jewels including the Faberge Egg. Thomas starts accusing everyone in his immediate family, that someone leaked the information about Faberge Egg. Thomas in the end tells Polly it must be Ruben Oliver as she may leaks it when she's drunk. But it's not Polly who leaks and not Ruben who betrays, he comes to find Polly. Polly tells him that she wanted a dull life with him.

Episode 3 6

Polly's arrested for the murder

Michael kills Father Hughes and brings Charles home where Polly sees the blood and embraces him. When business's over, Thomas call the family meeting and tells them the police have issued warrants for the arrests of Arthur, John, Michael and Polly. This was ordered by their enemies whom they betray last night. Polly's arrested for the murder of Chief Inspector Chester Campbell.

Series 4 · 1925-1926 Edit

Polly is about to hanged, praying to god and waiting to be sent to heaven, when a letter comes from the King to set her free. She terribly suffers from her first near-death experience after that. She blames her nephew Thomas for that, then leaves him, Shelby Company Limited and the Peaky Blinders. She goes to bad ways using prison-tablets and whiskey for healing herself. Apparently, she believes since she put her head inside the noose, she's seen spirit and can communicate with the dead. Although she lost her family and her man, she believes she can live with her dead family. Michael determines to still watch over his mother.
Episode4 2

Thomas Shelby, PollyGray and Shelbys at John's funeral

When mafia Luca Changretta comes to attack the shelbys, the matriarch must came back to protect her family while there's been some bad blood between she and Thomas. Because of the mafia's attacking, John's dead and Michael is badly wounded. At John's funeral, Polly is the most upset at Tommy for using his own brother's funeral as a trap, using family members as baits and walks out. She also meets the hired hitman Aberama Gold first time. She knows he wants something other than just money with her second sight.

Michael persuades his mother to help Thomas and promises then he will go to Australia with her. Thomas also begs Polly coming back. Polly tells Thomas she understands what he said in John's funeral. Polly makes things clear, she changes because she realizes "when you're dead already you're free." and throws prison tablets and whiskey away. Moreover she's back to help him because of Michael. She advises her nephew on this situation especially asking Mr. Gold what he really wants. Aberama divulges to Thomas that he wants him to help his son Bonnie Gold to be a boxer.

Ep4 3 a

Aunt Polly's back.

Polly talks with her niece Ada about her lack of sex life and make a New Year's resolution, looking for "someone unsuitable" to sleep with. She attends the board meeting about the reinstatement of Polly to the position of The Shelby Company treasurer and dropping the law of the bullet.

Later, she goes to the bar joining unexpected man Luca Changretta, who determines to kill her and her family. Polly makes a deal with Luca offering to sacrifice Thomas in exchange for the lives of Arthur, Michael and Finn, while they charm each other. Luca don't trust Polly easily, he use Michael to threaten her that he can reach her son at any time and he will kill her only son if she can't deliver Thomas. Polly makes appointment for Thomas that she will send him to Luca and put the black star in Thomas's diary. Michael knows his mother's plot but he chooses not to tell Thomas because he chooses his mother.

At last Luca realizes that was the plan that Polly sets him up because Thomas prepared machine gun and kills three of his men. The Shelby family find out what happened, it's was the plan that Polly and Thomas agreed on from the beginning.

Series 4 Polly Michael

Polly and her son Michael

Polly takes Michael Gray out into the woods with gypsies, the Palmers and the Boswells, by Aberama's support. After her son is gone with his son, Polly and Aberama are alone by the river in the woods. They're falling for each other. She tells about her life after putting her head in the noose, she's got the second sight and she can do anything she wants because of her lack of fear of death. She makes out with him while threatens him with a knife that, if anything happens to her son, she’ll be his enemy. He understands her and they continue making out.

Ep4 6 Polly Lizzie Linda

Polly and Lizzie Stark ans Linda Shelby at the ringside

In the night of the fight Bonnie versus Alfie Solomons's nephew Goliath, Luca sends assassins to kill her family. It's her oldest nephew Arthur, who's attacked, his funeral's set latterly. Thomas wants Michael to do business in America however Michael don't want to go. Polly promises her son when this business's over, she and Michael will be free to make their own choices.

Polly and Thomas work together to finish Luca Changretta. Changretta take over Solomons then came to Birmingham to take over Shelby Company Limited where he knows that Arthur's death had been faked. They make a deal with one of Luca's rivals, 'big' mafioso Al Capone, thus switching the loyalty of Luca's henchmen. Arthur pulls the trigger in the end.

When the war against mafia is over, Thomas's mental illness's back. It's Polly who tells him to shake hands with the devils and walk past them. Thomas's back and continues his bigger Plans, Polly is the one who always stands by him.

Relationships Edit

Thomas Shelby Edit

She’s always devotes to her nephew. She often advises Thomas Shelby on the gang's business.

Michael Gray Edit

Polly lost her husband, lost her children once and later she learns her poor daughter Anna died. When her only son comes back, she devotes her life protecting Michael. Polly's remained Michael as the accountant in the company and keep his hands clean.

Her Husband Mr. Gray Edit

Polly tells to Michael Gray about his father that he's a gypsy, died drunk, squeezed between a boat and a lock. She tells when her past husband was sober, he was kind and gentle. He could sing, play the piano, has got beautiful smile and has got the same beautiful eyes as Michael's. His trouble was he fell in with the wrong crowd when he was a boy. [10]

After near-death experience, she believes he's back and she can communicate with her dead husband.

Ruben Oliver Edit

Polly Gray Ruben Oliver

Polly & Ruben Oliver in series 3

In 1924 at the wedding of Thomas and Grace, Polly knows Ruben Oliver giving her the eyes, she thinks that he looks harmless and talks to him. Later Polly approaches Ruben to commission him to paint her portrait. He's fascinated by her beauty, saying she's a woman of substance and class.

They came from different society, he's well-educated artist but she has never educated, be the matriarch of criminal gang and a murder. However he pursues and seduces her until things have begun to develop between them. Finally, Polly decides to come for him at night and sleeps with him. Polly trusts him then starts sharing a secret about the murder of Campbell.

Ep3 6 Polly Ruben

Polly Gray and Ruben Oliver

Next day, he leaves her. When Charles Shelby's kidnapped, Thomas makes her misunderstand that Ruben betrays her. She's heartbroken. However he's back and makes clear he's never betrayed her. He tells he's ready to enter her world. She speaks to him that she wants a dull life and him, then they embrace and kiss.

Later in 1925-1926 Polly's alone without Ruben Oliver and she looks for "someone unsuitable" to sleep with. Moreover, she says "I've lost a man." to Ada Shelby. [11]

Aberama Gold Edit

Aberama Polly

Polly & Aberama Gold in series 4

What starts off as a man that Polly describes as a savage and a dangerous element, ends up being somebody that she becomes fascinated by quite quickly. They're both Gypsies, widows and criminals. He has known her family.

Thomas brings in Aberama Gold because he needs this man’s specific expertise fighting against Luca Changretta. She meets him first time at John Shelby's funeral, while he looks at her flirtatiously, she knows he wants something other than just money with her second sight.

Ep4 4 Polly Aberama

Aberama and Polly Gray

When Polly and Aberama are alone in the wood. They develop their romantic relationship. He's the man with bad reputation but treats her with respect while she tells about her second sight, his dead wife and her life after near-death experience. They're falling for each other. She seduces him and calls him "a strong, handsome man". They make out while she threatens him with a knife that, if anything harm come to her son, Michael, she’ll be his enemy. He understands her and calls her "a beautiful ghost". They continue making out in the forest.

Finally, he's never betrayed her and brings her son back for her. They're talking happily together in Shelby family party.

Luca Changretta Edit

Episode4 3

Polly Gray and Luca Changretta

Luca Changretta is the mafia who does a vendetta against the Shelbys especially plans to kill her. Luca's mother Teacher Audrey Changretta knows Polly's mother and she taught her how to read. Audrey knows Polly and said to his son that "Polly Gray, that child would never let go of a grievance and she loves to dance." [12] Polly makes a deal with Luca giving Thomas Shelby, sparing the rest moreover they charm each other. At last he realizes that was the plan that Polly sets him up, it's was the plan that Polly and Thomas agreed on. He's angry at her.

Ada Shelby Edit

Lizzie Stark Edit

Skills & abilities Edit

  • Business: She's a certified accountant and company treasurer of Shelby Company Limited. She managed the Peaky Blinders when the Shelby boys were absent during the Great War.
  • Leadership : She is the matriarch of the Shelby Family.
  • Second Sight : She believes she see spirit and can speak with the dead.
  • Fortune Tellers : tea-leaf reading[13]

QuotesEdit

Series 1 Edit

Polly

"Speak. God and Aunt Polly are listening."Polly to Thomas Shelby

"I know having four kids without a woman is hard, but my boot's harder."Polly to John Shelby

"Rule one. You don't punch above your weight."— Polly to Thomas Shelby
"You know the words. You're a whore. Baby's a bastard. But there's no word for the man who doesn't come back." Polly to Ada Shelby
"I'm having trouble these days and I'm twice the man you are." Polly to Freddie Thorne
“Men and their cocks never cease to amaze me.” Polly to Arthur, Thomas and John Shelby
"You can never tell with men. They go for whoever their dicks point at and there's no changing their minds." Polly to Grace Burgess
"And it's me who runs the business of the heart in this family." Polly to Grace Burgess

Series 2 Edit

"This is a respectable fucking neighbourhood!."Polly to The Peaky Blinders

"We don't need more fucking men! It's men that have done the damage! It... It is men fighting like cockerels"Polly to Thomas Shelby'

"You like it small and weak, well now small and weak has a gun" Polly to Major Campbell
"Don't fuck with the Peaky Blinders." Polly to Major Campbell'

Series 3 Edit

"My senior position within the Shelby company means I don't often have to ask permission from anyoneto do anything." Polly to Anton Kaledin

"It's a family united that shall never be defeated." — Polly to Shelby family

"I think when men want sex, they become hilarious. Like a dog, when you pick up a lead, and he knows he's going for a walk."Polly to Ruben Oliver
"You should call this painting Fuck Them All."Polly to Ruben Oliver
I swear to God if my son pulls the trigger, I will bring this whole fucking organisation down around your ears.”—Polly to Thomas Shelby
"So at an alternative time, when we have all recovered I would like to put before the family an alternative view of the future of the Shelby Company Limited. A more hopeful view. Which I, for one, would quite like to hear." —Polly to Thomas Shelby

Series 4 Edit

"I never thought my high fucking heels from Paris would be stepping through the whole shit of Small Heath ever again."Polly Gray to Ada Shelby & Lizzie Stark

"When you're dead already you're free." Polly to Thomas Shelby

"Just me and someone unsuitable." — Polly Gray to Ada Shelby
"Whilst working for this company, I have killed a man, I have lost a man, I have found a son, I have almost lost a son, I have almost lost my own life. Now, I will accept my job back if the terms on offer are favourable, but I will not behave myself." — Polly Gray to Ada Shelby
"You take Tommy. Spare the rest." — Polly Gray to Luca Changretta
"Men don't have the strategic intelligence to conduct a war between families. Men are less good at keeping secrets out of their lies." Polly to Michael Gray
"Came back when I put my head in the noose. It's like putting your head through a window and seeing the whole world. ... When you've put your head out of that window you can do anything you want, cos there are no rules, cos there are no risks."Polly Gray to Aberama Gold
"None of your knives can kill me."Polly to Aberama Gold
"We live somewhere between life and death. Waiting to move on. And in the end we accept it. We shake hands with the devils and we walk past them."Polly to Thomas Shelby

Image Gallery Edit

Reference Edit

  1. Episode 4.5
  2. Episode 2.3
  3. Episode 2.2
  4. Episode 4.5
  5. Episode 4.5
  6. Episode 1.2
  7. Episode 2.3
  8. Episode 1.6
  9. Episode 1.1
  10. Episode 2.3
  11. Episode 4.3
  12. Episode 4.3
  13. Episode 4.4