On Tuesday 27 October BBC One prime time comedy hero Citizen Khan [played and created by Adil Ray] will be having a day out in the city of Birmingham ahead of the latest series, which returns to our screens on Friday 30 October at 8.30pm. He will be visiting the city’s landmarks, patrolling through Grand Central with commuters and even taking over the train announcements at Birmingham New Street Station.
Then he will be pushing the boat out for once, treating the Khan family to a special trip to Cineworld Broad Street for a red carpet screening of the new series. Fans can see the whole Khan clan arriving on the red carpet from 5.45pm on Tuesday 27 October and should look out for him causing mischief around the city all day.
Ahead of the preview screening and start of the fourth series, I was fortunate enough to catch up with Adil Ray to chat about the new series, Birmingham and cricket, here is what he had to say.
I started by asking Adil how he felt that the character of Mr Khan had evolved since his early appearances on Bellamy’s People.
Adil explained, “Initially with Mr Khan, he was quite a satirical character playing a community leader, but as soon as you put him with his wife and his two kids within a family context, he actually becomes a more rounded character. He can laugh, he can cry, he can have a range of emotions, simply because of his relationships with his family members.
The very nature of a family is that it never stops growing and in the last series his daughter, Shazia, has a baby boy so suddenly Mr Khan is a grandfather and his kids are parents so it changes the family dynamic, so it feels that the character has grown in a really organic way.”
Picking up on Mr Khan becoming a grandfather I asked Adil how this might change the way he behaves in the new series.
Adil revealed, “It brings lots of great fun as you can imagine, he wants his grandson to play cricket for England, at one point he thinks his grandson has some secret powers and gets him to try to predict the lottery numbers. He also tries to get him in, nice and early, to the local private school and this sees him [Mr Khan] going to extraordinary lengths, which involves a fitness regime around Birmingham. He’s also left holding the baby and has to change nappies, so it’s great fun.”
Focusing on the Birmingham fitness regime filming, I asked how the Birmingham public had received Mr Khan when he took to the city streets to film those scenes back in August and how important is was for Adil, as a Brummie, to bring some of the series into the centre of his home city.
His response was extremely enthusiastic. “It was really important and it was great fun actually. It was quite trippy, with members of the public not really knowing what was going on and then they spot you and they start taking selfies with you, so it was fantastic and Mr Khan was in his element meeting the general public. It was really important that we did something like this, the show is set in Birmingham and we try to film in Birmingham whenever we can, it’s a great city and it looks fantastic. We filmed around the council house, on Colmore Row and the Cathedral Park and it was really important we got some of that on camera and try to contribute to the buzz that is going on about Birmingham at the moment and people will watch the show on BBC One and think, ‘Oh, Birmingham looks nice, we might pay a visit.'”
“The reception was amazing, we were running around and started high fiving people at bus stops and they were all amazing. Buses were stopping, in fact one bus driver stopped his bus and got off to have a photo taken with me, and I was ‘Hang on, shouldn’t you be driving that bus’, and he said, ‘No it’s OK, I have to have a picture with you first’, so it was good fun.
I know it sounds corny, but it just felt like home, and it is home for me. There is something very special about the people of Birmingham, they really do get behind cultural stuff and they are great supporters and they all put a big smile on my face, it was fantastic.”
Adil seemed very proud of his home city and it’s people so I took the chance to ask what he thought about the latest addition to the city, the new Grand Central and New Street station.
He joked, “It’s amazing, I’ve only got lost three times so far,” before continuing to say, “It’s brilliant and long overdue as Birmingham train station of old really needed something to be done about it but this is fantastic and I think that without King’s Cross in London, it is by far the best train station in the country. For you to get off a train in Birmingham and see that as your first view of the city is brilliant. With everything else that is being developed and the plans for up towards Victoria Square in years to come, the new tram system as well going down to the business quarter, it’s looking really, really great and I just hope Mr Khan gets a slice of it somewhere.
The only thing that’s missing around Victoria Square is room for a Mr Khan statue, that’s really important. I think it’s about time Birmingham showed some respect for it’s leaders, you know there’s, Matthew Boulton, Joseph Chamberlain and Mr Khan, it’s got to go that way.”
With the series four preview screening due to take place on Tuesday 27 October on Broad Street, I asked Adil what we can expect from the event.
Adil sounded like he was really looking forward to the event, explaining, “It’s going to be great. It’s a chance for us to get back into character, we’ll turn up on Broad Street in the yellow Merc and it would be great if people could come down. We love it, I know the cast love it, so it would be great to speak to as many people as possible, have pictures taken with as many as possible, so come down if you can at 6pm on Tuesday at Cineworld on Broad Street, it will be really good. It seemed like the right thing to do, we worked really hard and it’s nice to be able to give something back to Birmingham and share the moment and celebrate it with people from Birmingham.”
On Friday 23 October, Adil was on the judging panel for a Monologue Slam event at The Rep theatre, so I asked him about his involvement.
Adil seemed thrilled to be involved, saying, “What these guys put on is just brilliant. People can just turn up and take part, it’s basically for the next generation of actors and they come up and perform a one or a three minute piece, whether it’s something they’ve written themselves or they can do a bit of Shakespeare, or a scene from a play or anything they like I guess.
It’s a real privilege for me to sit and watch them because there will be some fantastic performances, and I’m not saying in any way that I’m an expert, but if it means that I can give people some sort of words of encouragement that helps them continue in their careers then that’s only got to be a good thing. I’m really looking forward to it, it should be really good and it’s at the Birmingham Rep, which is a fantastic venue.”
Staying on the theme of theatre, I asked Adil if he might follow Lenny Henry’s lead, following the staging of his radio show Rudy’s Rare Records at the Rep, and bring Citizen Khan to a live stage.
Adil revealed, “Yes, it’s something we are thinking about right now, doing a live tour of Citizen Khan. There are lots of logistics that go with it and it depends on the size and scale of what we’d want to do but it’s certainly something we are considering and hopefully we’ll try to do something like that next year.”
My final question was really aimed at the character rather than the actor as I asked Adil what Mr Khan would make of the latest from the England vs Pakistan test series and particularly the performance of Adil Rashid.
Adil started to answer on Mr Khan’s behalf, before being interrupted by the Sparkhill community leader himself, who said, “At the moment, I’m a Pakistani, Ok. At the moment I support Pakistan, but in five years time I will support England, you know why? Because they will all be Pakistanis by then.”
Adil took over again and jokingly explained, “What’s happening there is a sign of the times, you’ve already got Adil Rashid, Mooen Ali, there will be no Cooks, there will be no Indians they will all be Pakistanis and that will keep Mr Khan very happy indeed, and he’ll be looking forward to that day.”
Citizen Khan will be back on screen with seven new episodes from Friday 30 October on BBC One at 8.30pm and don’t forget to look and listen out for Mr Khan all day around the city on Tuesday 27 October and tweet your sightings using the hashtag #CKtakeover