Vale: Benjamin Zephaniah

Vale: Benjamin Zephaniah

UK writer, poet and actor Benjamin Zephaniah, best known for Peaky Blinders, has died aged 65.

He died on Thursday with his wife by his side after being diagnosed with a brain tumour eight weeks ago.

“We shared him with the world and we know many will be shocked and saddened by this news,” a statement on his Instagram said.

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

Between 2013 and 2022 he played Jeremiah “Jimmy” Jesus, appearing in 14 episodes across the six series.

He wrote five novels as well as poetry for children, and his first book for younger readers, Talking Turkeys, was a huge success upon its publication in 1994.

He often spoke out about issues such as racial abuse and education. He was nominated for autobiography of the year at the National Book Awards for his work, The Life And Rhymes Of Benjamin Zephaniah, which was also shortlisted for the Costa Book Award in 2018.

Actor Cillian Murphy said in a statement: “Benjamin was a truly gifted and beautiful human being.

“A generational poet, writer, musician and activist. A proud Brummie and a Peaky Blinder. I’m so saddened by this news.”

Singer-songwriter and musician Billy Bragg added: “Very sorry to hear this news. Benjamin Zephaniah was our radical poet laureate. Rest in power, my friend.”

Comedian, actor and writer Sir Lenny Henry said: “I was saddened to learn of the passing of my friend Benjamin Zephaniah. His passion for poetry, his advocacy for education for all was tireless.”

Source: BBC