Our Friend in the Midlands: Guz Khan on regional representation

Our Friend in the Midlands: Guz Khan on regional representation

Guz Khan
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Our Friend in the Midlands: Guz Khan wants TV to try harder to reflect the uniqueness of Birmingham in all its glorious authenticity.

The West Midlands is my home and I bloody love it. So why do I barely see it on the big old telly? Don’t get me wrong, I know everyone from the Spaghetti Junction to Bolivia loves Peaky Blinders – it’s a great show – but it hardly feels like it’s created here.

I enjoy some gangster shizz set in my neck of the woods as much as the next former criminal but, as soon as some of the characters open their mouths, I’m hearing accents that sound like a Welsh guy who has spent considerable time in Berlin, not Small Heath.

It was the fundamental thing that threw me while I watched the dominant performances from brilliant actors. They’re dope these lot, but they aren’t Brummies, mate!

This led me to question whether an actual West Midlander had been consulted over this issue. It’s something we are very proud of.

Our vernacular, our mannerisms and our interests are a tapestry that make us so unique – “Is that understood, bab?”

Television from our region is so sporadic that, when it is done, it has to be amazing.

As a comedian, I obviously gravitate toward the comedy that’s on television. But it’s few and far between, really, when it comes to us.

Citizen Khan had a very successful run, and Adil Ray is definitely a Brummie, but it never quite satisfied the palates of the people it was supposed to represent.

Television from our region is so sporadic that, when it is done, it has to be amazing.

This can only happen when we offer more people from diverse backgrounds a chance to tell their stories, people who represent how genuinely diverse the West Midlands is.

I’m an absolute newbie to the entertainment industry. I never dreamt of being in it.

I never thought I’d be standing on stages or writing scripts for television. It’s just not something that a working-class kid does around here.

So when this came snowballing down on me like a bad day in the Swiss alps – I’ve never been skiing, by the way, that’s what posh white folks do, innit (I’ve been down a hill in a Tesco trolley blindfolded, though, same shit) – the first thing I asked myself is, what would I like to see on TV?

It led me on a path of ensuring that I kept my own show as genuine and authentic as possible. And I mean that in the small and the big aspects of the show.


Man Like Mobeen (Credit: BBC)

Slowly but surely, as things started to come together, I could see how having that in my mind made a difference.

All I could think about before the show dropped was, “Man, all I care about is that the West Mids crew appreciate the ting, I made it for them....”

It did drop, they did love it and I was ecstatic.

People from all demographics were tweeting about the terms they use and the streets they’d walked on, and how the relationships in the show were proper Brummie.

Your dude was vindicated, it was mission complete. I’d made a show that made our lot proud.

Man Like Mobeen has now become more widely known as a show dripping in authenticity, but it’s just one small cog in the machine of the West Midlands.

I want to see Maude tear it up at a launderette in West Bromwich while she’s battling a heroin addiction and running a day care centre at the same time.

These are real stories that should be told by our people, not Cuthbert the Oxford graduate and his scriptwriter from Monmouth.

The West Midlands is my home and I bloody love it. So, hopefully, when we do see it on the big old telly more often, it’ll come with proper accents and some proper West Midlands flavour as well.

“Is that understood, bab?”

Series two of Man Like Mobeen was released as a box set on BBC Three on 7 February.