Midsomer Murders brings in two Asians year after race row
Asian father and daughter move into 'last bastion of Englishness' after show's creator was forced to quit
MIDSOMER MURDERS, the detective drama that was engulfed in a race row last year over the exclusion of ethnic minority characters, is to get its first two Asian characters.
Ace Bhatti, known for his role as Yusef Khan in Eastenders, and actress Soraya Radford (pictured) are to join the cast of the ITV series as father and daughter.
The introduction of an Asian family comes a year after Midsomer Murders' creator and executive producer Brian True-May was forced to step down after claiming the show was "the last bastion of Englishness" because there were no black or Asian faces in the picturesque fictional community of Midsomer Stanton.
"We just don't have ethnic minorities involved, because it wouldn't be the English village then," True-May said in a now notorious interview with the Radio Times. "It just wouldn't work. Suddenly we might be in Slough. We're the last bastion of Englishness and I want to keep it that way."
Amid furious reaction from the show's commissioners at ITV, who said they were "shocked and appalled", and an argument in the press about whether he was right or wrong to make his comments, True-May was suspended and later announced he was stepping down as executive producer.
Now the series' new producer, Jo Wright, a former head of drama series at the BBC brought in to give the ITV show a new direction, has announced that her team is committed to introducing ethnic minority characters in Midsomer's two-hour dramas.
"Like all long-running programmes, Midsomer Murders has to continue to develop and evolve," Wright told The Daily Telegraph. "I feel strongly that a range of ethnic groups should be represented."
Bhatti will play Harmendra 'Harry' Dutta, a widowed village chemist and part-time yoga teacher, while Radford will play Gagan, a 21-year-old PhD student and maths prodigy working at the local observatory. They will feature in the opening episode of the new series, Written In The Stars, in which an amateur astronomer is killed by a blow to the head by a meteorite during an eclipse of the sun.
Written in the Stars will be broadcast on ITV1, Tuesday, 25 September. ·