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Primetime slot can help make Khan comedy a family favourite ; TELEVISION:HAS ADIL GOT NEWS FOR YOU... SITCOM CREATOR HAS BIG AMBITIONS FOR SHOWAdil... [Birmingham Mail (UK)]

October 3, 2013

YellowBrix

Primetime slot can help make Khan comedy a family favourite ; TELEVISION:HAS ADIL GOT NEWS FOR YOU... SITCOM CREATOR HAS BIG AMBITIONS FOR SHOWAdil Ray has a simple ambition - to make people laugh with a family-friendly sitcom.GRAHAM YOUNGreports.

BIRMINGHAMborn actor Adil Ray is hoping to become a comedy legend - after being given a golden slot for his sitcom Citizen Khan.

Instead of returning to BBC2 on Mondays at 10.30pm, the show's second series will begin on BBC1 at 9.30pm tomorrow, immediately after Have I Got News For You.

Adil only learned of the date two weeks ago - and he hopes it will reunite families back in front of the telly.

BBC1 controller Charlotte Moore took up her post at the end of June but has backed the move.

"She really gets what we're trying to do," says Adil, whose divorced, Pakistan-born father Adbul spent 40 years driving Birmingham buses.

"You would watch those old sitcoms like On The Buses with your mum and dad and it's unfortunate now that so many people are watching TV individually, on an iPod or iPad. "With Citizen Khan, mums and dads can sit and watch it with their children and their grandparents.

"And because it's going out at this time on Fridays, I'm hoping the parents will let their children stay up a little bit later to watch it... with a curry!" Originally from Yardley and an old boy of Handsworth Grammar School, Adil spends hours in makeup to become Citizen Khan, an outspoken 55-year-old, self-styled 'community leader'.

The show is partly shot in Sparkhill but mostly at a Salford studio before a live audience.

"I'm excited and nervous at the same time," says Adil, whose mother Nargis is a civil service interpreter from Kenya.

"Friday, 9.30pm on BBC1... you then think how far can you go with it? "I'd like this series to run and run, and if we then did something like Rock & Chips (the prequel to Only Fools & Horses) I wouldn't need all that make-up, just big sideburns.

"It's not an Asian comedy.

It's a family sitcom. "Citizen Khan shows a lot of heart this series. He makes sure his intention is clear and, in the end, he's a good man."

With audiences above three million, each first series episode won a fifth of the total audience share.

"Because there are so few representations of Asians and Pakistanis on television, certain people think it's going to be, or has to be, a reflection of them," says Adil.

"But that's a mindset we have to get out of.

"Nobody ever watched Fools and Horses and thought everyone was like Del Boy in Peckham, or Desmond's and then thought everyone was a hairdresser.

"They would think: 'Oh my God... they're just like me'."

One of Khan's character traits is his throat-clearing habit.

"It's a bit of a tic - and a nod to the audience - when he's told a bit of a lie," says Adil.

"But he doesn't spit." While ten per cent of Birmingham's million- strong population is now of Pakistani origin - the biggest community in Europe - Adil is conscious that he will be 40 next April and still hasn't 'settled down'.

"Perhaps I should walk round Moseley looking for a wife like Ronnie Wood," he laughs.

"Right now, I've got all of my eggs in this one show. I've given up radio to do this comedy."

In that respect, he's still Mr Anonymous - the radio face now starring on TV as a different looking man who is also 15 years his senior.

"That's a really enjoyable part of it in many ways," says Adil.

"I was having a meal with friends in Harborne and people on the next table were discussing Citizen Khan.

"Most of them were very complimentary, but one woman who hadn't watched it was saying: 'I bet it's like this...'."

Adil says the show has travelled well, from Australia to New Zealand and even India where it has been repeated daily on Comedy Central and 'they take it in great spirits'.

We're chatting at the new Library of Birmingham, opened three weeks previously by Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai. "She's a fantastic story," he says. "It's absolutely remarkable how she can be #Malala and stand for something.

"What she has been through is astonishing and she has phenomenal courage.

"I feel really proud of her and a city that had the insight to invite her to get an education and to open the library - a stroke of genius and the right thing to do.

"What I admire about her is not that she's a Pakistani, but that she's a woman.

"To be a female in our society is not easy and it's very easy to lock issues away and to have a quiet life.

"I'd love to meet her, but, at the same time, you just hope she's able to get on with her life.

"She has to be allowed to do the things that she wants to.

"I hope she watches Citizen Khan... and talks very positively about it!" The new series of Citizen Khan starts on BBC1 at 9.30pm tomorrow.

'Because it's going out at this time on Fridays, I'm hoping the parents will let their children stay up a little bit later to watch it... with a curry!" ADIL RAY

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