Search This Blog

Arsher Ali - Arthur & George

February 2015

ITV expects its new drama, Arthur & George, to be a hit with viewers, as it sits in ‘the Broadchurch slot’.

The three-parter, which begins on Monday at 9pm, is based on a true story that became known as The Great Wyrley Outrages.

In 1906, George Edalji, a young Anglo-Indian solicitor, was imprisoned for mutilating animals and writing obscene letters.

He served three years before being released, after which he set out to clear his name in order for him to return to practising law.

Helping him in his quest was Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

“I can’t believe it’s real; it’s like someone getting done for terror charges and Russell Brand leaping to their defence,” says Arsher Ali, who plays Edalji opposite Martin Clunes as Conan Doyle.

“The actual case, and the achieving of the pardon was quite an historic event,” continues the 30-year-old actor, last seen in BBC drama The Missing alongside James Nesbitt.

“A lot of laws and regulations were changed from that first case. So it is an important landmark case in terms of law now.”

Arthur & George is based on Julian Barnes’ acclaimed novel.

“I’d read that when I left drama school. Then the Nottingham Playhouse did a co-production of it and that landed at my door,” he says, meaning he was offered a part.

“But I thought ‘no’ because they don’t do catering,” he jokes.

The theatre’s artistic director, Giles Croft, is a neighbour and has often asked Ali if he’d like to appear in various productions there but he’s always been too busy.

“I’d love to work at the Playhouse; it’s where I saw my first theatre really.” That was when he was at Bilborough College.

“It would be great to work with Giles. My missus has,” he says of Emmerdale actress Roxy Shahidi, who he lives with in the city centre.

“She did The Importance of Being Earnest with Anjli Mohindra,” he adds, of the Nottingham actress who played his wife in The Missing.

After college, Ali went to East 15 Acting School at the University of Essex, then graduated to roles with the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Comedy film Four Lions, his breakthrough, was five years ago. Since then he’s been a fixture on the small screen, appearing in Silent Witness, Beaver Falls, The Guilty and Complicit.

There will be two more films featuring Ali out this year; one with This Is England actor Stephen Graham and another called Remainder, based on the cult novel by Tom McCarthy.

He’s also writing a screenplay about heavy metal music in Iraq.

Ali is sworn to secrecy about his role in the next series of Doctor Who, which he finished filming in January.

Arthur & George is his first work playing a real person.

Filmed at the end of last year in London, Oxford and the Black Country Museum in Birmingham, it also stars Art Malik (The Jewel in the Crown, True Lies) as Edalji’s father, Emma Fielding (Silk, DCI Banks, Kidnap and Ransom) as his mother and Charles Edwards (Downton Abbey) as Alfred ‘Woodie’ Wood, Sir Arthur’s trusted secretary, who helps him pursue the apparent miscarriage of justice.

“It is an amazing story which emerged from a letter George wrote campaigning to get people on side,” says Ali.

“Sir Arthur is immediately taken by the letter, and is convinced beyond a doubt that George is innocent.”

Of Clunes, Ali says: “You think you know him from Men Behaving Badly, that he’s a kind of oafish, comical guy but he’s not at all. He’s super smart, super sophisticated, very witty and super posh.”

Ali is an avid Forest fan, who writes regularly for the Post and gets to all the games that his schedule allows.

He’s also often to be seen at Trent Bridge during the cricket season.

“I started a cricket team when I was at Haywood School in Sherwood. Although we only had two other teams to play against and I think we always lost those games.”

He and Shahidi will soon be moving North to be closer to Yorkshire Television, where Emmerdale is filmed.

He says with a grin: “If it was up to met we’d be in West Bridgford but with the City Ground and Trent Bridge just down the road, she knows I’d never be home.”

Arthur & George begins on ITV1 on Monday at 9pm.

No comments:

Post a Comment