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Riz Ahmed has an epic-sounding new BBC drama on the way

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Mike Rampton
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Riz Ahmed's new show 'Englistan' is on its way soon

“It’s the story I always wanted to tell” says Ahmed.

Riz Ahmed, star of everything from Four Lions to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story to Girls to The Night Of (why he won an Emmy for), has created a new show for BBC Two. Englistan is a multi-generational story showing a family of Pakistani immigrants over the course of forty years.

Ahmed is the creator and executive producer, and it is not yet known whether he’ll star in it as well. Ahmed says “Englistan is an untold British story with universal themes and resonance. It’s the story I always wanted to tell, and it’s a privilege to have the opportunity to do so.”

The series, which is in its very early stages at the moment, will consist of nine hour-long episodes following the Latifs - Jamal and Fatima, their children Ashraf, Razia and Asim, and their grandchildren Zahed, Naseem and Ayesha - through the later part of the 20th century.

Family and the importance of identity in a shifting cultural landscape look to be the primary themes of the show, with Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, describing it as “the story of the birth of multicultural Britain as seen from the inside”. 

It’s likely to be quite a personal story for Ahmed, whose parents moved to Wembley from Karachi in the 1970s. He’s spoken extensively about his experiences growing up Muslim in Britain and experiencing Islamophobia. He previously used the title Englistan for a mixtape in 2016.

When Ahmed won his Emmy for The Night Of, he became the first Asian and first Muslim to win in the category, and the first Muslim and South Asian to win any lead acting Emmy. He also beat an incredibly talented list of nominees including Benedict Cumberbatch and Robert flippin’ De Niro. 

He’s doing amazingly, starring as baddie Dr Carlton Drake in Venom later this year, having a supporting role in the upcoming The Sisters Brothers, and due to appear in a big-screen adaptation of Hamlet next year as the man himself.

So, when he’ll find time for Englistan is anyone’s guess, but from the sounds of it it’s likely to be quite something.

Riz Ahmed has an epic-sounding new BBC drama on the way

When Ahmed won his Emmy for The Night Of, he became the first Asian and first Muslim to win in the category, and the first Muslim and South Asian to win any lead acting Emmy. He also beat an incredibly talented list of nominees including Benedict Cumberbatch and Robert flippin’ De Niro.

He’s doing amazingly, starring as baddie Dr Carlton Drake in Venom later this year, having a supporting role in the upcoming The Sisters Brothers, and due to appear in a big-screen adaptation of Hamlet next year as the man himself.

So, when he’ll find time for Englistan is anyone’s guess, but from the sounds of it it’s likely to be quite something.

(Pic: Getty)

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Mike Rampton

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