Riz Ahmed to tell “untold British story” in new BBC2 drama Englistan

The drama about a British Pakistani family will stretch across three generations and multiple decades

Riz Ahmed

Rogue One star and Emmy Award-winning actor Riz Ahmed will tell an “untold British story” with his ambitious new drama Englistan on BBC2.

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The drama will follow the lives of three generations of a British Pakistani family, the Latifs. Across nine episodes we will see their story unfold over the decades and witness “the birth of multicultural Britain as seen from the inside”.

Englistan promises to re-frame recent British history and “shine a light on the forces that have made our society what it is today” as it introduces us to Jamal and Fatima, their children Ashraf, Razia and Asim, and their grandchildren Zahed, Naseem and Ayesha.

As society around them rapidly shifts, we will follow different family members and generations through political movements, gangland rivalries, boom and bust, assimilation into the establishment, spiritual soul-searching and religious conflict.

But at the core is the story of a family – and the questions they are forced to ask about whether ‘home’ is a country or a community.

Creator Riz Ahmed said, “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.”

Riz Ahmed Emmy Awards 2017

BBC Drama Controller Piers Wenger added, “Set against the familiar backdrop of the late 20th century but from a point of view which feels entirely new, Englistan is the story of the birth of multicultural Britain as seen from the inside. We are honoured to be working with Riz on this epic, deeply personal story.”

Alongside Englistan, BBC2 has announced two other new dramas: Death and Nightingales, and Doing Money.

Death and Nightingales is adapted from Eugene McCabe’s modern Irish classic and tells a dark love story set across class and religious divides in 1885 County Fermanagh. Adapted and directed by The Fall’s Allan Cubitt, it focuses on a young woman’s struggle to control her own destiny.

Completing the trio of new commissions is Doing Money, a shocking true story about slavery in modern Britain. The one-off drama follows the true story of Ana, a young Romanian woman snatched from a London street in broad daylight. She was trafficked to Ireland and used as a sex slave in a series of brothels.

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Screenwriter Gwyneth Hughes said, “I’ve been deeply affected by listening to Ana’s unforgettable story. I’ve learned a lot from her – a lot I wish I didn’t know – about the lives of women bought and sold into modern slavery. But I’ve also been moved by her courage, her humour, and her will to survive. She is a true heroine.”


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