- Sitcom creator has received death threats and been bombarded by abuse
- Adil Ray, 41, claims it was from those who think show makes fun of Islam
- Ray argued that the character resonates with British people because he is essentially a ‘good family man’
Adil Ray, the creator of BBC sitcom Citizen Khan, has revealed that he has received death threats
The creator of BBC sitcom Citizen Khan has revealed that he has received death threats and been bombarded by abuse from those who think it makes fun of Islam and stereotypes Asians.
Adil Ray, 41, also plays the lead character of self-appointed ‘community leader’ Mr Khan in the popular comedy charting the life of a Muslim family from Birmingham.
As the show returns for its fourth series, Ray – himself a Muslim born in Birmingham to a Pakistani father – wrote in the Radio Times that when it started he thought any negative comments would be outweighed by pride that a Muslim Pakistani family was at the forefront of a BBC sitcom.
But he added: ‘I was wrong.
That first series resulted in more than 700 complaints; we were accused of making fun of Islam and stereotyping Asians.
‘I had death threats and to this day receive abuse on social media; namely, that I’m an “Uncle Tom” (the definition of which is a black man considered excessively obedient or servile to whites).’
Ray argued that the character resonates with British people because he is essentially a ‘good family man’ and that is ‘one of the most promoted values in the UK today’.
The latest series sees him struggle with the idea of his youngest daughter Alia getting a boyfriend – something Ray believes will resonate with many parents.
Despite provoking outrage from some quarters when it was first aired in 2012, the show is enjoyed by a broad audience and is watched by over five million people, including iPlayer views.
Last week it returned for the fourth time, with a seven-part series aired on a prime-time Friday night slot on BBC One.
Adil wrote in the Radio Times that when the show started he thought any negative comments would be outweighed by pride that a Muslim Pakistani family was at the forefront of a BBC sitcom.
The show has been a success and Ray pointed out that his creation is no different to British favourites like Del Boy from Only Fools and Horses and Basil Fawlty from Fawlty Towers.
He added: ‘All comedy relies to some extent on big characters and stereotype…Look at Del Boy: a dodgy Peckham businessman who drinks too much.
No one is saying that everyone from Peckham is like that, but by playing to stereotype, you create a character whom we all understand, recognise and love, despite his weaknesses.
It’s the same thing with Basil Fawlty, the bigot battling his own class war; or the socially awkward Miranda.
Adil Ray, 41, also plays the lead character of self-appointed ‘community leader’ Mr Khan in the popular comedy charting the life of a Muslim family from Birmingham
‘The character I play is Mr Khan – a bearded, slightly old-fashioned, loudmouthed Muslim, a self-appointed community leader living in Birmingham…He’s a good family man – one of the most promoted values in the UK today – and in that sense I see the programme as very British.’
He said writing about Mr Khan discovering his youngest daughter has a boyfriend was ‘challenging’, and added: ‘We didn’t want to play to the negative portrayal of Muslim parents as domineering or pretend that Muslim teenagers don’t have boyfriends.
But through thinking about parents in general, we thought it realistic that many, like Mr and Mrs Khan, would not like the idea. They would argue they had their child’s best interests at heart.
‘Are we reinforcing the Muslim stereotype of an overly protective parent or just protective parents in general? Mr Khan’s wife and two daughters are fiercely independent women who get their own way.
There will be many fathers of teenage daughters across the UK who recognise that, too.’
Reaction to Friday night’s episode of Citizen Kahn was generally positive, but many still took to social media to call it ‘racist’.
One said: ‘I feel like Citizen Khan is just an excuse for racist white people to have a laugh at “the Muslims”’
Another wrote: ‘The fact that THIS is what represents asian/pakistani comedies/comedians on primetime british tv is awful, sort it out.’