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I TALK TO: Adil Ray

To coincide with the release of the first series of Citizen Khan on DVD, I spoke to the man behind Mr Khan, Adil Ray, to discuss how the series came about as well as some of his influences.

Let's start right at the beginning. Many people know you from BBC Asian Network. How long were you there for and what made you enter the world of comedy?

I was at the network for 10 years. I used that time to try out different characters on the show. The Asian community is quite diverse and I always felt that comedy was a great way of bringing them all together on the radio.

Some people may not remember that Mr Khan started off as a character in sketch show Bellamy's People back in 2010. When did you realise that Mr Khan had the potential to front his own sitcom?

When Mark Freeland Head of in-house Comedy at the BBC told me he loved Mr.Khan. He asked me what I would like to do with him and for me the ultimate was sitcom.. so I just said “sitcom”. He said “ok lets do it”.

Is Mr Khan based on anybody in particular? If so, who?

I think he is all of us. A human being,  with weaknesses.

Did you find it easy to slip into character? Especially once the beard was in place and that lovely suit was on.

Yes, as soon as the beard goes on I feel like I am Mr.Khan. I don’t rehearse with the beard on so I don’t really get into the part until the live recording which is very strange.

Many people have described Citizen Khan as "the seventies sitcom they forgot to make". How do you feel about that?

Sitcoms were great in the 70s. So that’s good isn’t it?

Absolutely, the seventies was undoubtedly a great decade for British Sitcom. I guess this begs the question then, what was your favourite sitcom from that era?

Fawlty Towers but that’s obvious. Second fave  - Rising Damp.

Good choices, especially Fawlty Towers. So are you proud of the fact that Citizen Khan is the BBC's first Asian sitcom?

I am proud of my entire team for just making a successful sitcom and being able to make sure it’s the sitcom I wanted to write.

And why do you think it took so long for the BBC to have an Asian sitcom? Is Sitcom is a tough genre to crack?

There aren’t many sitcoms in general.  I guess there aren’t many Asian comedy writers either.

So aside from Mr Khan, do you have any other favourite characters from the series?

Alia I love. She is very special.

From favourite characters to favourite episodes. Mine is Episode 5 where Mr Khan invites his friends over to watch England vs. Pakistan on his new plasma TV. What’s yours?

Hmm.. I think Episode 4. I loved the pub scene. In actual fact that was the starting point of the ep for me. How can we get Mr. Khan into a pub!

Why do you think Citizen Khan can relate to not only Asian families but British ones as well?

We deal with universal themes; family, marriage and love. They could be any family on any street.

Citizen Khan was the first sitcom to be filmed up in Salford, Manchester.  What do you make of the BBC’s relocation?

I love MediaCity it feels like home and it’s great for the North.

I follow Mr Khan on Twitter and he’s very funny indeed. Now I’ve heard a rumour that it is infact you behind that account. Why did you feel Mr Khan was a character that simply had to be on Twitter?

Yes it is. He is a community leader.. On twitter we are all community leaders.

Congratulations on getting a recommission for Citizen Khan. I’ve heard that Series 2 will be given an extended 7 episode run. Is this true?

Yes that’s right. We are writing them now.

The majority of Series 1 focussed on Amjad and Shazia’s wedding, yet we never got to see the wedding. Is this something you’ve been keeping behind for Series 2?

You’ll have to wait and see…. Sorry!

I had a feeling you'd say that. Here's something you hopefully can answer. Any ideas as to when Series 2 will be on?

Autumn 2013.

Thanks Adil. I think that’s enough talk about Series 2 (for now) so I want you to finish this interview by giving us three words as to why we should go out and buy the series on DVD?

Please my mum.

Haha! How about Mr Khan? Which three words would he use to sell it?

It’s bloody cheap!

Of course! Well, good luck with everything and I for one can’t wait for Citizen Khan to return. Thanks again.

Thanks Elliot for all your support and I wish you the best of luck with your blog.

Citizen Khan is out now on DVD and returns next Autumn on BBC One


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