BBC’s Informer’s character-driven diverse cast and unapologetic storyline drops you into the world of an informant working behind enemy lines.
Informer is a ‘character-driven thriller about Raza, a young second-generation British-Pakistani man from London who is coerced by Gabe, a counterterrorism officer, into informing‘.
I braced myself for a stereotypical portrayal of terrorist narratives. But, surprisingly I was faced with a dynamic twisted storyline that left me on the edge of my seat. Considering this is BBC commissioned it was my view they’ve pulled the guns out to reach a wider audience. The BBC published its first commitment to increase diversity on and off air to represent today’s UK in March 2018. With that said ‘Informer’ will be one of the first TV shows to go out on air with that intention.
The BBC’s head of Diversity inclusion and Succession Tunde Ogungbesan, said that diversity is one of the BBC’s biggest priorities and it was clear that the script penned by very talented duo now based in America, Rory Haines, and Sohrab Noshirvani met this remit.
But did Informer go any further to beat the stereotypical subject matters that we are so familiar with? Sort of. Episode one, ‘No sleep till Brooklyn’ opened almost immediately with action, but unfortunately gave us the oldest trick in the book by killing off a black man within the first 4mins. Lead character Raza (Nabhaan Rizwan) is a young, second-generation Pakistani man from East London. Raza embodies what it takes to survive the common view of UK based Muslims through the eyes of the law and what it is like to be oppressed by the harsh realities of daily racial profiling and harassment. Rizwan acts with raw honesty, his humorous portrayal of an Asian Sikh from London’s East End will leave you with consistent laughs.
Informer will make you consider whether it will have an impact on how non-Muslims view Muslims as it doesn’t break stereotype with its heightened focus of the dark side of Islam. One could argue does television have the power to alter perceptions? Does it have a responsibility to especially as many are still grieving traumatic experiences from terrorist attacks which have occurred in the UK? Is it too soon to release such an argumentative and distressing production topic? Or, maybe, a series like Informer is the best way to inform the masses through via contemporary thriller. The fast-growing radical groups in the UK have definitely been highlighted. Is it time that our ignorance is challenged?
Paddy Considine is ‘Gabe’ the undercover counter-terrorism officer who recruits Raza to work for the unit. Considine hits us with a pleasing reverse twist against all expectancy of what a terrorist officer is. Sharon D. Clarke MBE gives an expected stand out performance as boss of the anti-terrorism force ‘Rose Asante’. It’s also great to see a woman in quite a male-dominated production.
Would I recommend Informer? Yes, however episode one will definitely ruffle some feathers. Though there is truth that young Black and Asian boys especially are being radicalised I’m keen to see if there will be any redeeming portrayals of these youths as the series evolves. Another thought is will the creative team and or the BBC be condemned for tapping into this world, especially after some have criticised tv series ‘Top Boy’ and ‘The Intent’ film franchise for their portrayal of black men as criminals. The Informer falls into similar territory with Asian people the focus this time.
Review by Shakira N Meghie
Director: Jonny Campbell
Writer: Rory Haines | Sohrab Noshirvani
Cast: Sharon D. Clarke, Nabhaan Rizwan, Arinzé Kene, Roger Jean Nsengiyumva, Sunetra Sarker, Paddy Considine
Air date: BBC 1 Tuesday 16th October, 9pm