Thursday 15 September 2016

Peaky Blinders, Sherlock & Killer Women - Crawl Space welcomes Natasha O'Keeffe

I've had my eye on Natasha O’Keeffe (Peaky Blinders, Sherlock, The Last Panthers) since I saw her in Channel 4's Misfits. For my money, she's the perfect person to play Marnie Rome: vulnerable, chameleonic and unknowable. I caught up with her to chat about her roles in two of my favourite TV crime dramas, Peaky Blinders and Sherlock. 

SH: Peaky Blinders seemed to sneak up on viewers as an underground hit (I’m seeing Tommy and Arthur tunnelling under the Beeb’s schedule to plant the explosives when no one was looking). How big a part do you think the women play in the show’s success?

 NoK: Yes, Peaky Blinders does seem to have sneaked up on the public, and then reeled them in quite quickly further down the line. I have heard a lot of people say they have been binge-watching it on Netflix and question why they hadn’t joined the Peaky party earlier! The show’s title gives away the fact that it’s about THE ‘peaky blinders’ who were a real gang in Birmingham in the 1920s. So it’s no surprise the show is centred on these men and their antics. The Peaky women are gangsters themselves, I suppose, but go about their business under the radar. They don’t need no razors in their hats! As much as I would love to don their spectacularly cool outfits and shaved heads of hair, it wouldn’t ring true to that time. But what does absolutely ring true throughout the show is the heartbeat of the Shelby family business being held together by these tough and intelligent women. I believe if you took the women away from the show, there would be no spine. Don’t get me wrong—more stuff for the women, please! Always! And I believe they’ll not stop there in future series … Perhaps they’re just warming up? That’s what I like to think.
SH: You’ve starred in two of British TV’s best crime drama hits of the last decade: Peaky Blinders, and Sherlock. And also in The Last Panthers which is set in Bosnia, Hungary, France and the UK. Crime dramas are winning gongs all over the place. Do you have a theory about why crime is such a popular genre?

NoK: This is a good question. I think it may be because it’s an interactive medium; viewers feel they’re participants in the unfolding of a crime, and that they’re figuring it out along with the protagonist. 

SH: Do you have a favourite ‘killer woman’ on TV?

NoK: I had to think hard about this one! Film seems to have more of an abundance of ‘killer women’. I can straightaway think of True Romances’ Alabama, and Uma Thurman’s Bride in Kill Bill as two of my top favourites. With TV, I find it trickier, but one that sprung to mind is Lol from Shane Meadows’ This is England. You feel such a raw empathy towards her and the choices she’s forced to make. Though not a natural born killer, she kills for survival and for sanity.

Natasha O’Keeffe tweets as @moussetash

The Killer Women Crime Writing Festival takes place on Saturday 15th October 2016 (9 am to 8.30 pm) at Shoreditch Town Hall in London. The full programme, which features Val McDermid (Wire in the Blood), Mark Billingham (Tom Thorne), and Ann Cleeves talking about Shetland (with Douglas Henshall hoping to join her) can be found hereFollow @killerwomenorg for news and scoops