Statistics don’t tell the story of immigrants; people do.
After a sell-out performance as part of Alchemy 2014, Immigrant Diaries returns to the Southbank Centre with a new line-up of guest comedians, entertainers and broadcasters sharing stories of their heritage and doing what social and political commentators always say we don’t do enough of – talking honestly about immigration.
“Immigration is a hot topic for this May’s election” says host and devisor, Sajeela Kershi, “but there is often more heat than light generated when politicians debate it – Immigrant Diaries is the total opposite!”
This new edition of Immigrant Diaries, for the Changing Britain festival, features stories from the Thatcher, Major and Blair eras and celebrates the contribution immigrants have made to Britain despite the difficulties and seemingly ever-present tensions that they faced across these decades.
The participants are: broadcaster Nikki Bedi who explains how her Indian father wanted to be more British than the British and how she wanted to be more Indian than Indian; presenter Kristiane Backer whose mainstream media career was ended when she converted to Islam; comedian Dave Cohen recounting how he took on the BNP in Tower Hamlets and won; pop and rock star Aziz Ibrahim who will takes the audience on a musical journey from Lahore to Longsite, Manchester, retracing his childhood journey; comedy actor Daniel Taylor remembering how Britain’s race riots shaped his upbringing, leaving different family members with different views on authority, and comedian Inder Manocha, who describes how ‘unethnic’ he feels and the divide between him and his Indian-Iranian grandfather.
Award-winning comedian and writer Sajeela Kershi devised Immigrant Diaries and hosts the show once again, overseeing another collection of funny, poignant, ridiculous and sublime true stories of people who choose to live and work on this marvellously multicultural island. For her own story, Sajeela looks at whether multiculturalism has actually worked through the eyes of her family and their observance of two sets of rituals from two different cultures, even if they were sometimes at odds.
Immigrant Diaries – special guests:
NIKKI BEDI – (@nikkibedi) Television and radio broadcaster Nikki Bedi curates writes and presents The Arts Hour on BBC World Service, is a regular interviewer on BBC4’s Loose Ends and has her own show on BBC London 94.9.
KRISTIANE BACKER – (@KristianeBacker) Award-winning TV presenter and international public speaker Kristiane Backer was MTV’s leading lady, rubbing shoulders with musical legends such Mick Jagger, Bono, Bob Geldof and many others.
DAVE COHEN – (@cohendave) Comedian and writer Dave Cohen was a founder member of the Comedy Store Players with Mike Myers, a Perrier award nominee and is a BAFTA Award winning writer for Horrible Histories, Have I Got News For You, and Not Going Out. Dave also wrote songs for Spitting Image, the seminal satirical show of the 1980s and 1990s.
AZIZ IBRAHIM – (@azizibrahim56) Guitarist, singer/songwriter, and producer, Ibrahim was the former Stone Roses and Simply Red guitarist and co-wrote songs for Paul Weller’s album The Modfather. Ibrahim’s own debut album, described as ‘Asian Blues’, tells the story of his family’s journey from Lahore to Longsite, Lahore being the 2nd city of Pakistan and Longsite Aziz’s birthplace in inner Manchester.
DANIEL TAYLOR – (@DanielTaylor247). Comedy actor and writer, Daniel Taylor is the star of BBC3’s Uncle, and has appeared in award-winning Sky comedy, Hunderby, as well as Cockroaches, Horrible Histories II, The Inbetweeners and more. Daniel is also one half of double act Ginger & Black with Eri Jackson.
INDER MANOCHA – Comedian, actor and writer, Inder worked in international relations and as a therapist before deciding to become a comedian. Among his various credits, Inder appeared in Madonna’s British-based film about immigrants, Filth and Wisdom, and in the first series of Skins. Inder is also a winner of the 2004 EMMA (Ethnic Multicultural Media Award).
SAJEELA KERSHI (@SajeelaKershi) Comedian, writer and actress, Sajeela starred in So I Suppose This Is Offensive Now, the 2007 Edinburgh Comedy Award winning show, was a finalist in the 2011 Hackney Empire New Act of the Year award and is the star of multi-faith BBC Scotland sitcom Mixing It.
Festival: Changing Britain
Comedy / Spoken Word
Purcell Room at Queen Elizabeth Hall
Phone: 0207 960 4200
Friday 24 April, 2015
Duration: 140 minutes (including interval)
Wednesday 25th March 2015