Peaky Blinders Arthur Shelby star is caught with crack cocaine after pub session – with big screen finale of hit series under threat

The big screen finale of Peaky Blinders was in jeopardy last night after star Paul Anderson was caught with crack cocaine after a day in the pub.

The actor, who plays Arthur Shelby in the hit BBC drama, was with a friend and a baby on Boxing Day when police found the Class A drug and a pipe used to smoke it.

Anderson, 48, admitted possessing them, as well as class B amphetamines and two class C prescription drugs, when he appeared in court this week.

Producers of the show, which co-stars Oscar-nominated Cillian Murphy as Anderson’s on-screen brother Tommy, are developing a feature-length climax, but the belief could be a ‘significant impact’ on the film, a source said last night.

“(Screenwriter) Steven Knight is still writing the script,” the source said. ‘But this conviction will create huge problems because it would be so difficult to have a Peaky Blinders film without such a pivotal character, while it would be difficult to have him reprise the role as if nothing had happened.

Paul Anderson, who plays Arthur Shelby in the hit BBC drama, was with a friend and a baby on Boxing Day when police found the class A drug and a pipe used to smoke it

Paul Anderson, who plays Arthur Shelby in the hit BBC drama, was with a friend and a baby on Boxing Day when police found the class A drug and a pipe used to smoke it

Crack cocaine (stock image).  Anderson was caught after a drinker at his local in Hampstead, north-west London, told the bar manager he smelled crack cocaine fumes coming from the disabled toilet after the actor stepped out

Crack cocaine (stock image). Anderson was caught after a drinker at his local in Hampstead, north-west London, told the bar manager he smelled crack cocaine fumes coming from the disabled toilet after the actor stepped out

A clothed Anderson attends a VIP screening of The Gentleman in December 2019

A clothed Anderson attends a VIP screening of The Gentleman in December 2019

‘The third option would be to cancel the whole thing. I think it will most likely continue and only Steven knows which characters will appear.’

Anderson was caught after a drinker at his local in Hampstead, north-west London, told the bar manager he smelled crack cocaine fumes coming from the disabled toilet after the actor stepped out.

The manager at the bar called the police, who found an ‘intoxicated’ Anderson nearby with a young man and a 17-month-old baby, Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court heard. He was taken to a police station where officers found the crack cocaine, a casing of brown powder that was found to be amphetamines plus diazepam and pregabalin, prosecutor Kevin Kendridge said.

Anderson, who also appeared alongside Tom Hardy in the 2015 Kray brothers biopic Legend, answered ‘no comment’ to all questions during his interview, but later tested positive for opiates and cocaine – not crack cocaine – the court heard.

He pleaded guilty to the four drug charges during the hearing on Thursday. Wearing a cream hoodie, black leather trousers and thick-rimmed glasses, Anderson spoke only to introduce the convictions and confirm his identity and address at a £1.2m mews property in north-west London.

Peaky Blinders characters Thomas Shelby (Cillian Murphy), John Shelby (Joe Cole), Arthur Shelby (Paul Anderson)

Peaky Blinders characters Thomas Shelby (Cillian Murphy), John Shelby (Joe Cole), Arthur Shelby (Paul Anderson)

Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby.  Producers of the show, which co-stars Oscar-nominated Cillian Murphy as Anderson's on-screen brother Tommy, are developing a feature-length highlight, but the conviction could have a 'significant impact' on the film have, a source said last night

Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby. Producers of the show, which co-stars Oscar nominee Cillian Murphy as Anderson’s on-screen brother Tommy, are developing a feature-length highlight, but the conviction could have a ‘significant impact’ on the film have, a source said last night

Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby.  Anderson, who recently starred in Netflix film Lift, was expected to play a pivotal role in the Peaky Blinders movie, with production set to begin this summer

Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby. Anderson, who recently starred in the Netflix film Lift, was expected to play a pivotal role in the Peaky Blinders movie, with production set to begin this summer

Moira MacFarlane, defending, said that when Peaky Blinders fans recognized Anderson, he couldn’t resist slipping into the role of pugilistic hellraiser Arthur, who is often seen using drugs in the show.

“You will recognize the defendant from a very intense role he played in a recent television programme,” Ms MacFarlane told magistrates.

‘He is often recognized and does his best to please fans of the show by slipping into character. He was recognized that Boxing Day and tried to play for these people. And because of the lifestyle he leads, people often give him incentives.’

Ms MacFarlane insisted Anderson, who was fined £1,345, had not smoked crack cocaine, but conceded: ‘He found himself in an unfortunate position and should have had the strength to say no. ‘

It emerged this month that producers were investigating his behavior on set following a complaint from a colleague. It is not known what the complaint relates to, but sources close to Anderson have denied any wrongdoing and told The Sun he is confident an investigation will clear him up.

Anderson, who recently starred in the Netflix film Lift, was expected to play a pivotal role in the Peaky Blinders movie, with production set to begin this summer. Set in Birmingham between the two world wars, the drama follows the rise of the Shelby crime family.