IT doubles as gangster Tommy Shelby’s manor house.

Now Arley Hall near Warrington has been described as an ‘iconic part of Peaky Blinders’ as the period crime drama returns to TV.

Steven Knight’s gritty series, starring Cillian Murphy, will be on BBC One at 9pm on Sunday. The hugely popular show has switched from BBC Two after the previous series got more than four million viewers.

And Arley Hall, near Appleton Thorn, is expected to feature prominently as Tommy is now an MP and his manor home ‘Arrow House’ is where he is likely to meet with and entertain his guests – legitimate or otherwise.

The stately home has been part of the production since series three.

Bryony Arnold, script executive, said: “We were looking for a property that would be Tommy Shelby’s new home but it had to establish his change of authority and change of place between series two and series three.

“This is a man who has now accumulated a lot of wealth but he’s not very grandiose so we had to find this middle balance of feeling like he’s gone up in the echelons of society but also for it not to feel like Buckingham Palace-equivalent for example.

“Arley Hall is such a beautiful property. It doesn’t feel too big but it also just gives Tommy a really close sense of who he is and where he was at the beginning of series three.”

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Arley was introduced for Tommy’s marriage to Grace (Annabelle Wallis), one of Peaky Blinders’ most memorable – and dramatic – scenes.

It was also the location for a showdown between Tommy and Alfie Solomons (Tom Hardy) while the new series will feature a ballet...with gangsters.

Andrew Moores, who works at Arley and has been on set for the past three series, said: “It was exciting to welcome back the cast and crew of Peaky Blinders for another series. We always see some familiar faces, but one of the things we look forward to is seeing who the latest editions to the cast are and this year it was Sam Claflin.

"He filmed some scenes at Arley so it was great to watch him acting alongside Cillian Murphy.

“More scenes were filmed at Arley for this series than the last including one big set piece that saw a ballet performed under a marquee on the Furlong Walk.

“That scene was shot at night so should look pretty amazing and, as always, the attention to detail was incredible.We can’t give too much away, but everyone is in for a treat when they watch the latest series.”

Bryony, who previously worked on Ripper Street, added: “We all adore filming at Arley. It’s such a special place for us. It’s become an iconic part of Peaky Blinders.

“It’s Tommy’s home, it’s where we set a huge amount of big set pieces – particularly in series five where we’ve got some really exciting stuff coming up.

“One of my favourite scenes filmed at Arley is during series three when Alfie Solomons does a surprise visit to Tommy.

“He comes into his office and there is a brilliant stand-off. For someone like Alfie, who is a gangster from London, to come in such grandiose environments and have this encounter with Tommy is such a fantastic scene.

“But for me, one of my favourites is the wedding. It’s a wonderful sequence. It’s really poetic. For the audience, it’s that moment of Tommy finally marrying the love of his life but we all kind of secretly knew it wasn’t going to last for very long. His happiness couldn’t sustain.

“In series five I absolutely love the ballet sequence. I think it’s so stunning.

"The show’s creator Steven has done this beautiful dichotomy of a ballet with some gangsters which we never thought we’d see in Peaky Blinders.

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“So for us Arley represents so much from a story point of a view.

“But from a practical point of view it’s always just been a fantastic place to come and film. Everyone’s been so accommodating. It’s lovely to be here in such beautiful grounds.”

It is painstaking work. Turning Arley into Tommy’s home means giving the interior a repaint to give the hall a more masculine feel and replacing everything in the rooms with bespoke portraits and 1920s furniture.

But working on location has its benefits.

Bryony said: “What we love about somewhere like Arley is its authenticity. That’s stuff you can’t recreate necessarily in a studio. It’s having that sense of freedom of movement. So for example, for Tommy and Grace’s wedding we had lots of long moving shots between rooms and we were following characters as they moved through. That’s really difficult to achieve when you’re in a studio.

“The exterior is so stunning too. We love filming on the driveway. So for us it’s that practicality of being outside and having the authenticity of the era is so brilliant.”

There are other challenges too like the cast and crew working around Arley being open to the public during filming.

Bryony added: “Most of the time it’s absolutely fine and everyone is just really excited to see everybody.

“The problem we have is just making sure people don’t try and take lots of pictures and put them on social media. That’s really hard to control. We just don’t want to spoil anything for the audience later on. But generally it’s been a very lovely and welcoming place.

“Everybody is excited for us to be here which is just wonderful.”