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It’s a green light from the CA audience for brilliant new drama Informer

The CA community gathered together at the Hackney Picturehouse last night, for an exclusive screening of upcoming BBC thriller drama ‘Informer’, followed by a panel with the cast and crew of the show…

We kicked off the evening by watching a preview screening of the first episode of Informer, the new, ground-breaking six-part drama due to be aired on BBC One in mid-October this year. Informer is a sophisticated, character-driven thriller about Raza, a young, second generation Pakistani man from East London (Nabhaan Rizwan) who is coerced by Gabe, a Counter-Terrorism officer (Paddy Considine) to go undercover and inform for him. Informer tells a story about identity in a world where lines are increasingly being drawn and sides are being taken. What happens when you, or your friends, family or neighbours fall on the wrong side of that line and the personal becomes political?

Following the gripping viewing, we dived straight into an animated conversation chaired by the brilliant author and journalist, Sathnam Sanghera. Starting off our panel discussion was former BBC Asian Network presenter, current Radio1Xtra DJ and Informer cast member, Mim Shaikh. When asked how he thought people will react to Informer, Mim said he thought it was such an interesting storyline, that we never really see on British television – it was likely to be considered refreshing.

“People will be like ‘Oh that’s the London I know’. When you see voices on screen that represent you, that speaks to you. There’s a level of trust in the voices in the characters your depicting.”

Next up we heard from cast member Sunetra Sarker, who began her career on the cast on the Channel 4’s soap opera ‘Brookside’ during the 1980’s. Speaking on her journey as an actor from Liverpool, Sunetra spoke of the different landscape in terms of television, compared to when she started working 25 years ago:

“When I started out, I had to be my own role model. Slowly in the last 10 years it’s really changed, so for me to see a script like Informer was ground-breaking. My character here is three-dimension and truthful; which means talking about stuff you don’t normally see on screen. It’s very big deal for me to see a show like this being made.”

The Director, Johnny Campbell, discussed the experience of managing the project, given the unique themes that play out in the drama. He said, “It felt very different. Authentic. Funny. It was very interesting dealing with a subject that’s always portrayed in a one-note way with no depth.”

We then heard from newcomer, Nabhaan Rizwaan who made his on-screen debut as Raza in the drama. When asked if he had any anxiety taking on the role, he mentioned having reservations at first glance. But then looking at Raza’s character, he liked how he was portrayed as a normal young guy living in London, “I just thought it was a really good script and very appealing. It wasn’t a cliche at all”

Producer, Julian Stevens, then touched on their experiences of shooting in the bustling city of London. Finding the reality much better than originally imagined, he said: “The process made me fall in love with London again. There are certain parts of London that don’t get centre stage and it was a huge challenge for us shooting for 90 days from October till February.”

Our biggest challenge was that we were still finishing the script when filming started! It’s a bit like like building a bridge whilst you’re still riding on it. But the number one thing I would advise is hiring really good crew who will go the extra mile for you. Go with the people that inspire you the most.

In light of such a fresh script with multi-layered characters, the cast and crew also discussed the impact the series will have in terms of diverse stories on screen and their hopes for what the future will bring as a result of it. Sunetra said that she hopes everyone will sit up and pay attention, “this should not be for a diverse audience this should just be for those that love great telly. It’s real and it’s truthful.” Mim said “this is like a breath of fresh air. It will show the broadcasters that there is room for scripts like this. We took a risk and it paid off.”

Lola Oliyide, a Development Executive at Neal Street Productions and Script Executive on Informer gave advice for those wanting to get into Scriptwriting was to do lots of reading of scripts to get a sense of what they are about.

We can’t wait to watch the rest of the show when it comes to air! A massive thank you to our friends at Neal Street Productions for hosting the evening, to the team at IJPR for their fabulous organisational skills and of course to our wise and entertaining panel:

  • Sathnam Sanghera
  • Nabhaan Rizwaan, Lead Cast 
  • Mim Shaikh, Cast & Radio1Xtra DJ
  • Sunetra Sarker, Cast  
  • Jonny Campbell, Director 
  • Julian Stevens, Producer 
  • Lola Oliyide, Script Executive