An epic gangster saga filmed in Keighley, with a stellar cast including Hollywood actor Sam Neill, has been launched to critical acclaim.

The first episode of the six-part Peaky Blinders was screened on BBC2 last Thursday, with the TV Times giving it a top rating and describing it as a “riveting” drama.

Filming took place last autumn at locations including the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway and Dalton Mills, in the town.

The Vintage Carriages Trust, which owns Ingrow Museum of Rail Travel, provided carriages and a steam locomotive.

Peaky Blinders is set in 1919 in the slums of post-war Birmingham where returning soldiers, Communist revolutionaries and criminal gangs all fight for survival.

Guns smuggled from the trenches become lethal currency on the streets, traumatised infantrymen drink away their shell-shock in riotous ale houses, and illegal bookmakers profit from speak-easy betting shops.

The drama centres on the Shelby family who make their money from off-track betting, protection and robbery. Their gang is known as the ‘Peaky Blinders’ because they sew razor blades into the peaks of their caps.

The drama is based on a real gang in Birmingham, comprising young hoodlums returned from the war.

Writer Steven Knight said: “America is good at mythologising its criminal past, in England we’re not so good.

“With period drama, we tend to go down the Jane Austen route.

“This is an interesting period; men coming back from the trenches, unemployment, industrial unrest, a rise in communism. It was a time of social tension.”

The production is the first to receive financial investment from Screen Yorkshire's new £7.5m Yorkshire Content Fund.

Chief executive Sally Joynson said: “It is the type of production we are looking to attract to Yorkshire – big budget, epic storyline and with immense talent involved.”

Peaky Blinders is screened on Thursday at 9pm.