The BBC has commissioned Virdee, a new detective series based on AA Dhand’s best-selling crime novels and starring Sacha Dhawan (Doctor Who, The Great, Wolf), from newly formed production company Magical Society, headed up by Paul Trijbits (Jane Eyre, The Letter For The King, The Casual Vacancy).
The new six-part drama for BBC One and BBC iPlayer was announced today by Lindsay Salt, Director of BBC Drama, at the Edinburgh TV Festival’s Spotlight on the BBC session. The series introduces Detective Harry Virdee (Sacha Dhawan), a Bradford cop disowned by his Sikh family for marrying Saima, who is Muslim. Harry struggles with the abandonment, constantly attempting to reunite with his family. With his personal life in chaos, he must hunt down a killer targeting the Asian community.
When the murderer kidnaps a local MP’s daughter in Bradford and holds the entire city to ransom, Harry realises that he is going to need the help of his brother-in-law Riaz, a drugs kingpin who runs the largest cartel in the county. Pulled together in an alliance that could ruin them both, Harry must make a choice: save himself and his family or save his city. He will not be able to do both.
AA Dhand says: “Like me, DCI Harry Virdee is a proud Brit who dreams big and whilst he is passionate about his heritage, it is not something which solely defines him. He refuses to be shackled by the past and believes in merging worlds, cultures and identities; no matter the cost. Hey, aim big or go home – this is Yorkshire.”
Paul Trijbits, excutive producer, says: “Working with Amit to get the Harry Virdee books to the screen has been a long but utterly satisfying journey. It’s no mean feat for Amit to have succeeded in adapting this love story set in such a rich and complex world and wrapping it all up in a crime series.”
Lindsay Salt, Director of BBC Drama, says: “I’m passionate about supporting writers at every stage in their careers and we are thrilled to be working with Amit on his very first drama for television along with the team at Magical Society. Virdee is a powerful and gripping detective story but at its heart are two people in love and their struggle to be accepted as a couple. With Sacha in the lead role of Harry and Bradford providing the perfect backdrop, I can’t wait for viewers to be captivated by this series.”
Virdee (6 x 60’) is adapted for the screen by AA Dhand. The series is executive produced by Paul Trijbits, AA Dhand and Jo McClellan for the BBC, and produced by Stella Nwimo (Top Boy, Gangs of London). The co-producers are Gareth Coulam Evans, Callum Dodgson, Sylvie Richards and Karl Hall. Virdee is a Magical Society production in association with Screen Yorkshire for BBC One and BBC iPlayer. Cineflix Rights is the exclusive worldwide distribution partner.
Virdee will be an essential part of the activities leading up to the 2025 Bradford City of Culture. To support the production, The Screen Academy Bradford has been set up to deliver a series of bespoke training programmes across all departments, designed to address specific crew shortages and skills gaps, particularly among underserved groups in Bradford. The academy is spearheaded by Magical Society and supported by the BBC, the HETV Skills Fund delivered by ScreenSkills, Bradford Council, West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Tracy Brabin Mayor of West Yorkshire and Screen Yorkshire. The academy producer is Ameenah Ayub Allen (Ali & Ava, Rocks).
Filming will start later this year in and around Bradford and further cast will be announced in due course.