Peaky Blinders Star Benjamin Zephaniah Dies Aged 65

Peaky Blinders Star Benjamin Zephaniah Dies Aged 65

Peaky Blinders actor Benjamin Zephaniah has died at the age of 65. 

The writer and poet passed away in the early hours of Thursday morning after being diagnosed with a brain tumour eight weeks ago.

His death was announced “with great sadness and regret” on Benjamin’s Instagram page. The statement explained that the actor’s wife “was with him throughout and was by his side when he passed”.

“We shared him with the world and we know many will be shocked and saddened by this news,” the statement said. “Benjamin was a true pioneer and innovator; he gave the world so much.

“Through an amazing career including a huge body of poems, literature, music, television and radio, Benjamin leaves us with a joyful and fantastic legacy. Thank you for the love you have shown.”

Benjamin, who was born and raised in Birmingham, was known for his literary work, as well as for being a political activist who spoke about issues such as racism, poverty, and social injustice. 

The author, who was named one of The Times’ 50 greatest postwar writers in 2008, famously rejected an OBE in 2003 due to its association with the British Empire and its history of slavery.

He released five novels as well as poetry for children, with works including We Are Britain! A collection of poems published in 2002 that celebrated diversity. He also penned the children’s book, Talking Turkeys, which was a massive success upon its publication in 1994.

Benjamin was also known for his on-screen work, and from 2013 to 2022, appeared as Jeremiah Jesus in the BBC One drama, Peaky Blinders, which starred Cillian Murphy.

Tributes poured in on social media on Thursday, with author Michael Rosen writing: “I’m devastated. I admired him, respected him, learnt from him, loved him. Love and condolences to the family and to all who loved him too.”

ITV journalist Charlene White penned: “Thank-you for everything Benjamin Zephaniah.”

Bridgerton actress Adjoa Andoh added: “We have lost a Titan today. Benjamin Zephaniah. Beautiful Poet, Professor, OBE, Advocate for love and humanity in all things. Heartbroken. Rest In Your Power – our brother @BZephaniah.”

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