Benjamin Zephaniah, known for role in 'Peaky Blinder,' dead at 65

December 8, 2023

Benjamin Zephaniah, known for his role in "Peaky Blinders," died Thursday at the age of 65.

His death was confirmed on his social media following his passing.

The announcement

“It is with great sadness and regret that we announce the death of our beloved husband, son and brother in the early hours of this morning the 7th December 2023,” his family wrote. “Benjamin was diagnosed with a brain tumor 8 weeks ago.”

“Benjamin’s wife was by his side throughout and was with him when he passed. We shared him with the world and we know many will be shocked and saddened by this news,” the family wrote. “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.”

His impact

"Zephaniah was also a poet and political activist. He published the first of his 14 books of poetry, 'Pen Rhythm,' in 1980 at the age of 22," the New York Post reported.

"In 1985, he followed up this debut with a collection, 'The Dread Affair,' focused on the British legal system. He also wrote multiple novels and plays and wrote an autobiography in 2018, 'The Life and Rhymes of Benjamin Zephaniah,'" it continued.

His background

“His poetry is strongly influenced by the music and poetry of Jamaica and what he calls ‘street politics,'” according to a biography on his website.

“His first real public performance was in church when he was 10 years old, by the time he was 15 he had developed a strong following in his hometown of Handsworth where he had gained a reputation as a young poet who was capable of speaking on local and international issues," it noted.

He was a lifelong poet, with works throughout his lifetime in addition to his acting and activist projects.

His role as Jeremiah "Jimmy" Jesus in the "Peaky Blinders" series was one of his most popular roles.

Tributes poured out across social media as news of his death was announced starting Thursday.

The widespread response to his death shows the deep influence Zephaniah had on society over multiple decades as an actor and beyond as many mourn his passing following a battle with a tumor diagnosed just weeks ago.

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