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BBC commissions Bradford detective series Virdee

A new 6-part drama based on the best-selling crime novels by AA Dhand is to be filmed in Bradford.

Virdee will star Sacha Dhawan (Doctor Who, The Great, Wolf) and be made by the newly formed production company Magical Society – headed up by Paul Trijbits (Jane Eyre, The Letter For The King, The Casual Vacancy).

Announced today by BBC Director of Drama, Lindsay Salt, the series is about Bradford cop, Detective Harry Virdee (Dhawan), who is disowned by his Sikh family for marrying Saima, who is Muslim. 

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. 

“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,” said AA Dhand, who is adapting it for the screen. 

“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.”

The 6 x 60 minute series 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).

“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,” added Paul Trijbits, Executive Producer.

Filming will start later this year in and around Bradford and further cast will be announced in due course.

“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,” said Lindsay Salt, Director of BBC Drama.

“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.”

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