Peaky Blinders star Helen McCrory has revealed how her character’s brutal rape in the BBC1 show has encouraged fans to confide in her about their own traumatic experiences.

Viewers were horrified when matriarch Polly Gray was attacked by Major Campbell as she bargained for her son to be freed from jail in a previous series.

Helen, 51, said: “I’ve had young girls come up to me and talk about terrible rape stories. One girl said that when she saw that episode, it was the first time she talked to her husband about it.

“That’s a huge responsibility, because viewers have watched these characters for a long time, so I’m very aware of that responsibility.”

Helen, who is married to actor Damian Lewis, was reflecting on the hit show – which also stars Cillian Murphy – after series five began last Sunday.

The rape is one of several traumas she has portrayed as Polly, who had her children taken away from her.

“I am aware that a lot of the things that I talk about as Polly, I haven’t experienced,” she added.

"I haven’t had to give up my children for adoption – I haven’t lost a daughter.

"But I can’t tell you how often I’ve received letters, or people come up to me in the street, and women tell me these extraordinary stories, and what they felt when they saw Polly talk about it.


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