What can we say about Adil Ray’s new sitcom Citizen Khan?
Cliche? Stereotypical? Funny? A potential classic? Amusing but not Hilarious?
All of the above plus:
It’s On BBC1 – not BBC4, not BBC3 – not BBC2! – not on “The Ethnical Channel” – BBC1 – Real Telly! Yay!
The Beeb reportedly received around 200 complaints about Citizen Khan, so it’s clearly doing something right: if a new comedy doesn’t clock up a few calls to the BBC switchboards or a bunch tetchy tweets it’s not been noticed. It achieved a 20% audience share in its slot with 3.6 Million viewers of which 0.0056% complained.
As far as stereotypes, we have a full complement of sitcom characters, Daft dad, Sensible Mum, Nerdy/Dopey Son/Son-in-Law, Racy and/or Demure-Clever daughters. Who doesn’t know a few self important, silly would-be community leaders? Or Dad’s who actually think they are the ones running the household. In sitcoms as in life, its generally the mums who are the management material armed with a full arsenal of common sense and proportion and dad’s are generally like one of the kids, but bigger and with a job.
The thing about Stereotypes and clichés is that yes – they are a convention; a shorthand way to introduce characters, but they are often designed to be undermined as the both the characters and stories develop. It’s also the case that there is frequently a truth in them, for if not we would not recognise them as such – and that in recognising them we may be chastened by a smidgin of self-recognition, or alternatively sufficiently peeved to call the BBC.
No-one here was an outright caricature and they all had heart.
What we do have is an old-fashioned sitcom of the kind that they don’t make ’em like any more. You could almost be watching a random episode of “Only fools and Horses” but in brighter colours like the Simpsons … Actually very much like the Simpsons: check out that sofa pic of the family. Mr. Khan is not that far off Homer, a not so distant relation of “Del-Boy” or “Capt Mainwairing in “Dad’s Army”. All were potentially pompous buffoons, with an inflated sense of self importance, yet they were full of heart and a harboured a sense of reality within them – and were the main characters in ensemble shows that were each the most loved sitcoms of their time.
Creator/Actor Adil Ray who play Mr. Khan seems to have ticked all the boxes for a contemporary-retro-21st-century-sitom; so let’s not get our Sari’s in a knot about this and see where it goes as these broad-brushstroke characters get a chance to breathe. Such broad comedy often has plenty of love in it for it’s characters and it’s subject, it’s more frequently the smart stuff that tends to have a more acid bite.
Footnote: Just noticed that the new (english) guy managing the mosque was played by an actor from the sitcom “My Family” which starred Robert Lindsay who played the title role in the BBC’s late 70’s hit comedy “Citizen Smith”.