He made his debut in ‘West is West’, fresh-faced and new to acting, and tells us what it means for him to have been in this popular TV comedy drama…
SOME people are probably going to find it difficult to say goodbye to the four intrepid lads who feature in coming of age BBC 3 Series, ‘Ladhood’.
The first episode of the final series dropped on Monday (September 5) evening and now all three seasons and the six episodes of 25 minutes that make up each series is available on BBC I-player (UK only – see link below). The acclaimed drama is written and stars Liam Williams.
The drama revolves around William’s own late teens self (played by Oscar Kennedy) and him narrating his experiences to camera growing up in Garforth, suburban Leeds, at the time – but now as a man in his 30s, looking back at those antics. The final series ends with Liam, the central character, contemplating university and drawing the curtain on his schooldays.
We watch the young Liam, Addy (Aqib Khan), Ralph (Samuel Bottomley) and ‘Craggy’ (Shaun Thomas) get into all manner of scrapes and have the older Liam assess the impact these had on his life. As this series starts, the older Liam finds himself looking back at the boys’ first flat share, as his London landlord in present time ups the rent and tells him he can lump or it leave.
All four boys are inherently likeable though as you would expect – just a bit daft. But who isn’t at 16/17?
Adnan Masood to give his full character name is just one of the lads – except of course, he is brown and Muslim.
Khan – who is best known probably for his breakthrough role as Sajid Khan in ‘West is West’ (2010) the sequel to the hugely successful, ‘East is East’ – starring in ‘Ladhood’, has been another career highlight.
“I’ve been doing this because I love the show – even if it made things difficult for me because of other bits of work or other opportunities.
“I am so proud of this job and so proud to work with Liam Williams and the whole team on ‘Ladhood‘. I use to watch his TV shorts on i-player in 2013/14. Things have come full circle, you could call it kismet.”
A striking breakthrough can be a hard act to follow – but Khan has a good 12 years an an actor now.
“As an Asian lad, I’ve starred in over half of the things I’ve done – it’s incredible,” he reminds www.asianculturevulture.com as we speak ahead of the latest series dropping.
“It’s a nice representation for those who feel they might have some sort of peer pressure to fit in and not be themselves, when really people like you, for you, and the show reflects that.”
The point being is that Addy is both just one of the lads but there is also something different about him.
He isn’t white and he isn’t of the same faith, but none of this is remarkable in itself and Addy’s issues don’t differ greatly from those of young Liam, Ralph or Craggy.
“No matter what background we are from we all face the same issues, we all feel the same, we all know what right and wrong is generally,” Khan told acv.
Adnan has stuff going on – he can look a bit dormant at times or fixated about one of the girls in his school (he is in episode 1 anyway) and Khan sees broader parallels to his own life.
“Adnan himself has some troubles and some crises within himself.
“I think many people would relate to Adnan. My life was a little bit more raw in that sense, I think it was more subtle for Adnan, but still I related to it a lot myself,” Khan reflected. “He is a young British man and the show does show the little that he has to deal with being Asian and Muslim. That’s normal for a lot of different people out there, different cultures, different families.”
Some scenes he had to depict on screen were not that far away from his life as Aqib Khan. While he doesn’t go into detail, he told us: “Some of those scenes weren’t too difficult to perform for me, even though it would have been difficult viewing. It’s brilliant writing and it opens people’s minds up to some issues some people might be facing.”
Plucked from obscurity, at the age of 18, he had a part alongside the legendary Om Puri who played his Dad going back to Pakistan, taking his youngest Parka wearing kid to meet his other (Pakistani) wife. ‘East is East‘ showed George Khan’s main family, the one he brought up in Salford with Ella (Linda Bassett).
He touchingly names Puri as his mentor, and adds “RIP” to his name, when he talks about ‘West is West’.
Khan had no prior acting experience but his talent shone through and the variety of his more recent roles show an actor continuing to grow and develop – he appears in the BBC TV smash, ‘Ghosts’, the Russell T Davies BBC drama, ‘Years and Years’, and a couple of feature films, ‘Lies We Tell’ (2017) the Mitu Misra directed crime thriller starring Gabriel Byrne and ‘Remember Me’ (2014), another crime genre flick this time with TV icon Michael Palin.
Currently Khan isn’t signed up to anything following ‘Ladhood’ but it shouldn’t be for long – he’s a talent to watch.
“I’d never been to an audition in my life. ‘West is West‘ was my first.
“I’m very fortunate, scripts have always helped me identify with the characters, and the people around me have always helped me perform and gave me good advice. It’s a vague and volatile industry.”
He feels he has come full circle – he started out in comedy.
“Comedy is something everyone around me assumed would be comfortable for me. I am glad I didn’t do any comedy for 10 years. “I am really excited and open now to anything and everything.”
Ladhood is available from BBC I-Player (September 5) https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episodes/p07t80ht/ladhood