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Benjamin Zephaniah, Poet and ‘Peaky Blinders’ Actor, Dies at 65

 

Benjamin Zephaniah, the acclaimed British poet, writer, and actor renowned for his role as Jeremiah Jesus in the hit series “Peaky Blinders,” has passed away at the age of 65. The news of his demise was shared through a statement on Zephaniah’s official Instagram account, revealing that he succumbed to a brain tumor diagnosed just eight weeks prior.

Early Life and Literary Beginnings

Born and raised in Birmingham, England, Zephaniah’s journey into the literary world began to unfold when he moved to London. At the age of 22, he made a significant mark with the publication of his first book of poetry, titled “Pen Rhythm,” in 1980. This marked the commencement of an illustrious career that spanned several decades.

Literary Legacy: Poetry, Novels, and Autobiography

Over the years, Benjamin Zephaniah contributed immensely to the literary landscape. He authored a total of 14 poetry books, with notable works such as “The Dread Affair” in 1985, where he critically examined the British legal system. His keen observations extended to global affairs, evident in his reflections on a visit to Palestine captured in “Rasta Time in Palestine” (1990). Beyond poetry, Zephaniah ventured into novels and plays, showcasing his versatility as a storyteller. In 2018, he penned his autobiography, “The Life and Rhymes of Benjamin Zephaniah,” offering readers a glimpse into his extraordinary life.

Television Career: “Peaky Blinders” and Beyond

Benjamin Zephaniah’s impact wasn’t confined to the written word; he also left an indelible mark on the television industry. His most prominent role was that of the preacher Jeremiah Jesus in the widely acclaimed series “Peaky Blinders,” where he appeared in 14 episodes over the show’s six seasons. Beyond this iconic role, Zephaniah graced other television productions, including “EastEnders,” “The Bill,” and “Zen Motoring.”

Farewell Tributes and Legacy

Following the announcement of Zephaniah’s passing, tributes poured in from various quarters. Cillian Murphy, the star of “Peaky Blinders,” expressed his condolences in a statement to Variety. He hailed Zephaniah as a “truly gifted and beautiful human being,” emphasizing his roles as a poet, writer, musician, and activist. Murphy remembered Zephaniah as a proud Brummie and a vital part of the “Peaky Blinders” family.

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