Englistan — everything we know about Riz Ahmed's new drama

Riz Ahmed Englistan
Riz Ahmed is creating the nine-part series for BBC2 (Image credit: Getty)

Riz Ahmed will be bringing us an 'untold British story' in Englistan, his new nine-part series about three generations of a British Pakistani family.

The BBC2 drama will unpack the political values, religious and cultural identities and national economics that affect the lives of parents, children and grandchildren, over four decades.

It's a project the Hollywood star, whose film and TV credits include Rogue One and The Night Of, has been working on for nearly a decade, so here's everything we know so far... 

Englistan release date

There's no news on when this one might be arriving on BBC2, with Riz Ahmed discussing the series in a 2021 interview with Vice.

"It’s a saga to tell and a saga to make! Ask me in another five years and we’ll have hopefully moved forward a bit more!" Let's hope we don't have to wait that long Riz! 

BBC Studios will be distributing the show internationally. 

Englistan plot

A BBC synopsis reads... "Englistan is the story of three generations of a British Pakistani family, the Latifs: Jamal and Fatima, their children Ashraf, Razia and Asim, and their grandchildren Zahed, Naseem and Ayesha. We follow them as they pursue their dreams over four tumultuous decades, navigating shifting circumstances and evolving loyalties.

"Englistan will re-frame recent British history, and shine a light on the forces that have made our society what it is today. We will follow them through political movements and economic boom and bust, through gang-land rivalries and assimilation into the heart of the establishment, through spiritual soul-searching and religious conflict.

"Our characters will question what it means to be true to oneself, to belong and whether ‘home’ is a country, a community, or something much more personal. Above all this is a story of family, of the enduring love a family provides, how it sustains us, restricts us, and defines us for better or worse."

Riz Ahmed on Englistan 

Riz expanded on the plot during a 2019 interview with Variety...

“It’s a saga about a British Pakistani family over 40 of the most eventful years of recent British history, from 1979 to 2019. 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.”

“It is going to be a period drama – but unlike any period drama you have seen before. We’re doing nothing less than trying to write the epic poem of our England and a revisionist British history.”

"We’re turning people’s idea of Britain and Britishness on its head," he continued. "We’re showing them a world they have never seen before, but in a way that is universal and relatable.”

The Hollywood star also believes attitudes towards minority voices have improved in recent years... 

"Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You and Steve McQueen’s Small Axe have really stretched culture," he told Vice. "It’s been a long time coming for us to allow people to do their own thing, and now we’re seeing how special that can be.

"Every time someone does something unapologetically in their own way, it opens up space for that. What Steve’s done with Small Axe is going to open up space for me to do what I’m trying to do with Englistan in more of my own way, you know? It’s had its struggles. It’s a relay race and we’re trying to win a bit more ground for the next load of reinforcements to come in to keep pushing things forward."

Englistan cast

There's no news on who might be starring in Englistan yet, we'll keep you updated as soon as the BBC announce any casting news.

Englistan trailer

There's no trailer available for this one at the moment, but we'll be sure to update this page as soon as one lands. 

Sean Marland
Feature writer for TV Times, What's On TV, TV & Satellite Week and whattowatch.com

Sean has been writing about all things telly for over 10 years and in that time he's been lucky enough to interview stars like Ian McKellen, Tom Hardy and Kate Winslet. His favourite shows are The Great British Bake-Off, People Just Do Nothing and Succession and in his spare time he enjoys drinking tea, doing crosswords and watching football.