It was probably unlikely that a TV comedy series about a Muslim community leader would pass without comment.
And so it was that in the region of 200 complaints were made to the BBC yesterday after it broadcast the first episode of Citizen Khan.
It was claimed that the programme ‘takes the mickey out of Islam’, was guilty of ‘stereotypes about Asians’ and was ‘disrespectful to the Koran’.One scene that particularly provoked anger was where a heavily-made up girl, Mr Khan’s daughter, rushed to put on a hijab and pretended to be reading the Koran when her father entered.
The six-part series, which aired for the first time on BBC1 on Monday at 10.35pm, has been created by British Muslim Adil Ray, who also plays the lead role.
One viewer wrote on the BBC’s messageboard: ‘This is terrible stereotyping, ignorant and just dreadful.’
Another said: ‘HIGHLY disappointed especially when her father walks in and she dis-respectfully opens the Koran!!’
But others defended the show. One said: ‘People are reading too much in to Citizen Khan, especially the hijab thing, it happens!’
The series stars former My Family actor Kris Marshall as the mosque manager and Shobu Kapoor, who is known for her work on EastEnders, who plays Mr Khan’s wife.
The comedy mocks Mr Khan’s self-importance, including his delusions about his position in the community and about his standing in the business world.
Critics have complained that it repeats many stereotypes about British Muslims, with the first episode all about the troubled wedding plans of one of Mr Khan’s daughters, Shazia.
Some claimed while Goodness Gracious Me, the acclaimed BBC2 Asian sketch show, had challenged stereotypes, the new show reinforced them.
The two other writers on the show, Anil Gupta and Richard Pinto, had both worked on Goodness Gracious Me.
A BBC spokesman said: ‘Citizen Khan has made a very positive start, launching successfully with 3.6million viewers and a 21.5 per cent share in a late-night slot.
‘New comedy always provokes differing reactions from the audience. The characters are comic creations and not meant to be representative of the community as a whole.’
In a recent interview with BBC Breakfast, Mr Ray said the show was allowing the Muslim community to laugh at itself.
He said: ‘I think it is a great opportunity, with Mr Khan as a Pakistani Muslim and the character, to take that kind of really rich content and laugh at ourselves and I am a firm believer in that.’