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*WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS*
The final series of Peaky Blinders is at last here, and it was always going to be sad and strange watching the show without the captivating performances of Helen McCrory, who played matriarch Polly Gray.
The actor tragically passed away last year aged 52, following a private battle with cancer, but her presence lived on in the first episode of season six.
Picking up where the previous series left off, Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) is told over the phone that his aunt Polly has been killed, with her body then delivered to his home.
In a beautifully shot funeral scene, she is laid to rest alongside her portrait, as the camera pans between the grief-stricken faces of her family members.
As the fire blazes, we follow the smoke up into the air, where Polly's eyes can be seen looking down from the sky above.
The moving scene touched viewers, with one tweeting: "Poignant moment in #PeakyBlinders showing Aunt Polly's (Helen McCrory) portrait in the middle of the screen and showing it slowly being cremated with the cast watching on."
Someone else said: "No no no not polly i’m sobbing obviously i knew this would happen but my god #PeakyBlinders."
A third wrote: "OMG THATS HOW THEY GOT RID OF POLLY #PeakyBlinders."
#PeakyBlinders did a good job at killing off polly tbf— dario palmiero🇮🇹 (@dariopalmiero1) February 27, 2022
It seems the death of her character will guide the story arc for the final series, with son Michael holding Tommy accountable for her death and vowing to avenge her.
Indeed, Murphy has previously confirmed that McCrory remains 'very present' in the show.
He told Empire: "It's a huge loss; it's hard to comprehend it. Because she was the matriarch of the whole thing. As the character, but just also as her personality.
"But she's still present in series six. Steve [creator Steven Knight] has managed to keep her very, very present, which I think is a brilliant tribute to Steve and also to Helen."
The star also said it was extremely difficult making the show without her.
He told The Guardian: "She would have been in series six if the pandemic hadn’t put everything on hold.
"We were just five days away from shooting in March 2020 when the lockdown was announced. Helen was the heart of that show and it was hard to make it without her. Really hard.
"There was this huge absence on the set. We all felt it. She died while we were shooting.
"She was too young. You can't help but think of all the amazing roles she would have had."
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