Peaky Blinders star Benjamin Zephaniah dies aged 65

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'Peaky Blinders' star and poet Professor Benjamin Zephaniah has died aged 65 eight weeks after being diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Benjamin Zephaniah

Professor Benjamin Zephaniah has died aged 65.

The poet, novelist and music producer - who also played Jimmy Jesus in BBC drama 'Peaky Blinders' - passed away after being diagnosed with a brain tumour eight weeks ago.

In a statement on Zephaniah's social media, his family said: "It is with great sadness and regret that we announce the death of our beloved husband, son and brother in the early house of this morning the 7th December 2023.

"Benjamin was diagnosed with a brain tumour 8 weeks ago.

"Benjamin’s wife was by his side throughout and was with him when he passed."

His loved ones hailed him as a "true pioneer and innovator", pointing to his incredible body of work across many different mediums.

They 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.

"Thank you for the love you have shown Professor Benjamin Zephaniah."

Zephaniah was born in Birmingham in 1958, and got diagnosed with dyslexia at an early age, leaving him unable to read or write when he left school at the age of 13.

He went onto become a real literary force, while he has been credited with creating 'dub poetry', which sees words recited over reggae beats.

He was an outspoken activist, with his work dealing with issues such as poverty, racism and social injustice.

Tributes have poured in for the late star, with 'Loose Women' star and broadcaster Charlene White among those paying their respects.

Alongside a heart and broken heart emoji, she wrote on X (formerly Twitter): "Thank-you for everything Benjamin Zephaniah.

Writer Nels Abbey added: "Our learned and beloved elder, Benjamin Zephaniah is now an ancestor.

"To call this crushing news is a massive understatement. He was far too young, far too brilliant and still had so much to offer. A loss we’ll never recover from.

"RIP Professor Zephaniah."


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