×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Riz Ahmed Gears Up for ‘Englistan’ Series and ‘Hamlet,’ Talks U.S. and U.K. TV Biz

Having worked on both sides of the pond, “The Night Of” star Riz Ahmed thinks the U.S. TV biz could learn from the Brits’ “unpretentious” attitude toward the creative process and the U.K. industry could emulate the Americans’ openness to “new voices.”

“The British approach to creativity can be really helpfully unpretentious….That sets us apart and can be really helpful,” Ahmed told an audience of international TV execs at the BBC Studios Showcase event in Liverpool this week. He added: “Something we can learn from the Americans is their embrace of the new – new voices. I think that’s partly because it’s such a massive market [and] you need such a gigantic turnover.”

Ahmed was in Liverpool to tout his sweeping new period drama, “Englistan,” which BBC Studios is selling internationally. Tim Davies, CEO of BBC Studios, interviewed the actor onstage about his career and the show.

“It’s a saga about a British Pakistani family over 40 of the most eventful years of recent British history, from 1979 to 2019,” Ahmed said. “It’s about a lot of things and ideas that are highly resonant and provocative right now. It’s about identity, hope, belonging, and universal themes like family and looking for love.”

Ahmed promised his show will be a new type of period piece. “It is going to be a period drama – but unlike any period drama you have seen before,” said Ahmed, whose Left Handed Films is making the series with BBC Studios. “We’re doing nothing less than trying to write the epic poem of our England and a revisionist British history.”

He added that Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” had influenced him and shown the possibility of taking a different look at events of the past. “That’s kind of what we’re doing – we’re turning people’s idea of Britain and Britishness on its head,” he said. “We’re showing them a world they have never seen before, but in a way that is universal and relatable.”

Ahmed is set for a busy 2019 and confirmed he would star in a modern take on Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” believed to be for Netflix. It was reported in 2017 that he was in talks to star in the adaptation and he said this week that he is working on the contemporary British adaptation of the Bard’s classic.

More TV

  • MAKING IT -- Season: 1 --

    TV News Roundup: NBC Announces 'Making It' Season 2 Premiere Date

    In today’s TV news roundup, NBC announced the “Making It” Season 2 premiere date and HBO Max greenlit a new docuseries from Brad Goreski and Gary Janetti. DATES Hosts Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman will return with the second season of “Making It” on NBC Dec. 2. After the show’s holiday season premiere, the show [...]

  • Luis Fonsi Erika Ender Latin Grammys

    The Second Latin Explosion: How 'Despacito' Ushered in a New Generation of Stars

    Music is an ever-evolving art, and for the Latin Recording Academy, that’s meant riding multiple waves of attention. The most recent arrived with the stratospheric success of “Despacito,” which kicked off a second Latin Explosion with full force in 2017. The Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee hit, later featuring verses by Justin Bieber, made Latin [...]

  • TV Review: 'Catherine the Great' Starring

    TV Review: 'Catherine the Great' Starring Helen Mirren

    For some, “Dame Helen Mirren playing the Catherine the Great” is all the convincing they’ll need to watch this new biographical limited series, which is perfectly understandable. The casting of Mirren in the role, which follows the Russian empress in the embattled latter years of her life, is a smart choice that proves its worth [...]

  • Ricky Martin Celia Cruz Gloria Estefan

    From Idea to Legacy: Latin Grammy Awards Mark 20 Years of Global Recognition

    The idea of creating a separate organization to honor the diversity of Latin music was a discussion that took place for years before it actually happened, but an event driven by one of pop music’s most important crossover artists solidified it. During the 41st Grammy Awards ceremony, a young Ricky Martin was scheduled to perform [...]

  • Science Fair

    Disney Plus Fleshes Out Nonfiction Slate, Including 'Howard,' 'Science Fair,' Mickey Mouse Docu

    Disney Plus further fleshed out its nonfiction content slate at an International Documentary Association showcase event Friday, as the streamer, preparing for its Nov. 12 launch, continues to flesh out its programming strategy. Among the announcements: The streamer has acquired the global distribution rights to “Howard,” the Don Hahn-directed documentary about “Aladdin” and “Beauty and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content