Serial Productions, the company behind the true-crime show that helped trigger the podcast boom, is coming out with a new limited-series looking into a hysteria in Britain triggered by an alleged Islamic plan to infiltrate the country’s schools — which may have all been a hoax.
“The Trojan Horse Affair” is hosted by Brian Reed, known for his hit series “S-Town.” Reed teamed with Hamza Syed, a doctor-turned-reporter, to investigate what was dubbed Operation Trojan Horse. The story starts in 2014 with a mysterious letter detailing a supposed Islamic plot to take over schools in Hamza’s hometown of Birmingham.
The letter appeared to be a secret communique between Islamic extremists who had been infiltrating the city schools, and it led to a crackdown on Muslim educators and harsh new British counterterrorism measures. But Syed realized that no official or investigator had bothered to look into who wrote the Trojan Horse letter — or why. Together, he and Reed reveal who wrote the letter and ultimately raise the question: Had an entire country been duped?
All episodes of the eight-part series will be available on Thursday, Feb. 3, on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and other podcast platforms. (Listen to the trailer at this link or below.)
“’The Trojan Horse Affair’ is investigative reporting on a roller coaster,” said Julie Snyder, Serial Productions’ co-founder and executive editor. “The story itself is rooted in the most traditional practices of ‘who knew what when,’ but each chapter in the tale is also like its own bizarre mystery novel. Each time you think you’ve arrived at an obvious answer, another mystery unfolds.”
“The Trojan Horse Affair” was edited by “Serial” host and co-creator Sarah Koenig, and produced by Brian Reed, Hamza Syed and Rebecca Laks, along with staff at Serial Productions and the New York Times. The original score was written and performed by Thomas Mellor.
The New York Times acquired Serial Productions in 2020, operating it as a studio within its audio content division.
“Serial,” the true-crime podcast that debuted in 2014, was a spinoff from “This American Life.” The series, exploring questions about the 2000 conviction of Adnan Syed for the murder of his girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, was a key catalyst in fueling broad interest in the podcast format. (Syed, who has appealed the conviction, remains in prison serving a life sentence.)
Since the Times acquired Serial Productions, together they have launched “Nice White Parents,” about the powerful forces shaping public schools, and “The Improvement Association,” a true story about election fraud.
Listen to the trailer for “The Trojan Horse Affair”: