Peaky Blinders actor and poet Benjamin Zephaniah died on Thursday after being diagnosed with a brain tumor eight weeks ago
Benjamin Zephaniah in a still from Peaky Bilnders
Popular show 'Peaky Blinders' actor and poet Benjamin Zephaniah passed away at the age of 65. He played the role of Jeremiah Jesus in 'Peaky Blinders.' According to a statement posted to Zephaniah's official Instagram account, he died on Thursday after being diagnosed with a brain tumour eight weeks ago, as per Variety, a US-based media outlet.
"Benjamin's wife was by his side throughout and was with him when he passed," the statement continued. "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 and radio, Benjamin leaves us with a joyful and fantastic legacy."
After growing up in Birmingham, England, Zephaniah eventually moved to London and published his first book of poetry, 'Pen Rhythm,' in 1980 at the age of 22. He would go on to publish 13 more poetry books, often tackling political subjects such as the British legal system in 1985's 'The Dread Affair' and his takeaways from a visit to Palestine in 1990's 'Rasta Time in Palestine.' Zephaniah also penned several novels and plays, and wrote an autobiography in 2018, 'The Life and Rhymes of Benjamin Zephaniah,' as per Variety.
He also made several television appearances, he was known for his role as the preacher Jeremiah Jesus on 'Peaky Blinders.' He appeared in 14 episodes of the series over its six seasons. Zephaniah's other TV credits include 'EastEnders,' 'The Bill' and 'Zen Motoring,' reported Variety.
Zephaniah was born and raised in Handsworth, Birmingham, the son of a Barbadian postman and a Jamaican nurse. He was dyslexic and left school aged 13, unable to read or write. His early work used dub poetry, a Jamaican style of work that has evolved into the music genre of the same name, and he would also perform with the group The Benjamin Zephaniah Band.
He became a familiar face on television and was credited with bringing Dub Poetry into British living rooms. He also wrote five novels and poetry for children, and his first book for younger readers, Talking Turkeys, was a huge success upon its publication in 1994, according to the BBC.