A Widow Makes a Surprising Comeback in ‘Peaky Blinders’ Season 6 (SPOILERS)

Who was Esme Shelby Lee married to? ‘Peaky Blinders’ viewers caught up with the character in Season 6, long after her husband’s demise.


Jun. 18 2022, Published 3:33 p.m. ET

Amid the many surprises of Peaky Blindersfinal season — which started streaming on Netflix in the U.S. on June 10 — was a plot involving Esme Shelby Lee (Aimee-Ffion Edwards), who was married to John Shelby (Joe Cole) before his untimely death.

Peaky Blinders Season 6 spoilers ahead!

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According to a Decider recap, gang leader Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy), John’s brother, ventures into the countryside to find Esme in Season 6, Episode 3, after his daughter, Ruby (Heaven-Leigh Clee), falls ill with tuberculosis. Here’s more about Esme’s character’s backstory…

Esme was married to John Shelby on the show until his Season 4 death.

As Wales Online explains, Esme was married to John, the third-eldest of the Shelby brothers, and it was actually Tommy who set up the marriage, wanting to end the feud between the Shelbys and the Lees. Esme welcomed two children with John, who had four children from a prior relationship.

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But when the Changretta crime family had John killed, she took her children to live with her Romani family in Season 4. Before she left, though, she Tommy and Arthur Shelby (Paul Anderson), the second-eldest brother, for her husband’s demise, wishing them “no peace,” according to Den of Geek.

Aimee-Ffion Edwards was “open-minded” about playing Esme again.

Welch actress Aimee-Ffion Edwards is the talent behind Esme. After departing Peaky Blinders in Season 4, she took prominent roles in the TV shows Troy: Fall of a City, Curfew, Keeping Faith, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and War of the Worlds, among others.

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And in a 2019 interview with Cosmopolitan, Aimee-Ffion revealed she would consider a return to Peaky Blinders. “It depends on the script,” she said. “I feel like I got to do some really good stuff, and the storylines were really strong, and I could make the best of Esme. I think there’s an element of feeling quite protective over the characters you play, and if you feel like you aren’t doing that character justice… It’s such a brilliant show, and such an amazing following.”

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She went on: “It’s really exciting to be a part of, but I think if the storyline was good, I would consider that, but I’m quite satisfied with what I got to do with her. I’m open-minded, but sometimes, it’s nice to leave on a high.”

Tommy seeks Esme’s help lifting a curse in Season 6.

And it seems like a satisfactory script landed in Aimee-Ffion’s inbox, because she returns to the show midway through Season 6. After hearing of Ruby’s ailment Episode 3, Esme speculates that the girl is sick because of the same cursed sapphire that Tommy’s late wife, Grace (Annabelle Wallis), was wearing the night she was gunned down.

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“You recall a sapphire? You gave a sapphire to a woman called Bethany Barwell,” Esme tells Tommy, per Cosmopolitan. “She gave the stone to her sister, Evadne Barwell. Evadne Barwell put the stone around the neck of her daughter, and straight away the girl began to cough. She died that night, seven years old. I heard they threw the sapphire in the river. No one has ever gone to look for it. I’m guessing it’ll be the girl’s mother that laid the curse.”

And one episode later, after Ruby succumbs to her tuberculosis, Tommy finds the Barwell family’s caravan and brandishes his machine gun. “I’m here on behalf of the blue sapphire,” he says, before opening fire.

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