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Poet And Peaky Blinders Star Benjamin Zephaniah Has Died

Benjamin Zephaniah Dead: The Peaky Blinders star has sadly died aged 65.
Credit: Alamy & BBC

Peaky Blinders star Benjamin Zephaniah has died aged 65.

The British poet and songwriter is considered one of the greatest poets of all time, with The Times ranking him within the Top 50 Postwar Writers.

His work tackled subjects of racism, poverty and social injustice.

Along with his work in literature, Zephaniah starred in the popular TV series Peaky Blinders – in which he played the role of preacher Jeremiah ‘Jimmy’ Jesus across all six seasons.

Sadly, it has been confirmed that the star has passed away.

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A statement posted on Zephaniah’s Instagram page confirmed his death – it revealed he was diagnosed with a brain tumour eight weeks ago.

It reads: “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 (7 December).

“Benjamin was diagnosed with a brain tumour eight 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.

“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, radio, Benjamin leaves us with a joyful and fantastic legacy.”

People have taken to the comments to pay tribute to Zephaniah.

One writes: “Oh no. This is just so terrible. At a time where the world needs beautiful souls.”

“Devastated. What a huge loss to the world. I’m sorry for your loss,” pens a second.

Another fan shares: “This news really saddens me. I’m a big fan. I was lucky enough to meet him and tell him how much I liked his poetry and what he stood for. My heart goes out to his family and friends.”

A fourth adds: “I’m so sorry to hear this incredibly sad news. He was such an inspiring man.”

“Thanks for the years of inspiration. RIP,” comments someone else.

Benjamin Zephaniah in Peaky Blinders
Peaky Blinders star Benjamin Zephaniah has died aged 65. Credit: BBC

Zephaniah was born in Birmingham on April 15, 1958.

He was diagnosed with dyslexia at an early age – he left an approved school unable to read or write at the age of 13.

He was given a typewriter in his childhood and had previously revealed that this inspired him to become a writer, as per The Independent. The typewriter is currently on display at the Birmingham Museums Trust.

Zephaniah’s work included dub poetry – a style where the words are recited over the beats of reggae music.

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He also wrote several poetry books including ‘Too Black Too Strong’ and ‘We Are Britain!’ – which explored themes of racism and inequality.

Famously, Zephaniah turned down an OBE (Order of the British Empire) for his services to literature in 2003 – stating that he was ‘proudly anti-empire’.

He told The Guardian at the time: “Me? I thought, OBE me? Up yours, I thought. I get angry when I hear that word ‘empire’; it reminds me of slavery, it reminds of thousands of years of brutality, it reminds me of how my foremothers were raped and my forefathers brutalised.”

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Written by Rosario Monachino

Rosario is a content editor at IGV who specialises in film, TV and entertainment news. He has a degree in English and Film from the University of Salford and a masters in Journalism from Liverpool John Moores University.