Adil Ray’s royal roots

Ack­ley Bridge star Adil Ray on dis­cov­er­ing he’s de­scended from ugan­dan kings

TV Times - - My Tv Week - Han­nah Davies

FAC­TUAL Who Do You

Think You Are? thu / bbc1 / 9.00Pm (WALES, 10.40Pm)

Like his al­ter ego, Mr Khan in the hit BBC sit­com Cit­i­zen Khan, ac­tor Adil Ray grew up in a Pak­istani com­mu­nity in Birm­ing­ham.

So it was a sur­prise, while delv­ing into his an­ces­try for this week’s Who Do You Think You Are?, to dis­cover that he’s not only part Ugan­dan, but a de­scen­dent of the East African coun­try's an­cient royal lin­eage.

Here, Adil, 43, last on our screens as rich busi­ness­man Sadiq in C4 school drama Ack­ley Bridge, tells TV Times more about his new­found re­gal sta­tus…

Why did you want to take part in Who Do You Think You Are?

My dad’s side of the fam­ily is from Pak­istan, but my grand­mother Aisha – mum’s mum – was African. She was the ma­tri­arch of our fam­ily and died when I was a child, so I had a real de­sire to find out more about her African back­ground. There was also a ru­mour in my fam­ily that we were re­lated to the Kabaka – they’re the wealthy rulers of Bu­ganda, which is a small Ugan­dan king­dom – but no­body ever be­lieved it!

You trav­elled to Kenya and Uganda ex­plor­ing your grand­mother’s back­ground and met some Ugan­dan cousins. What was that like?

It was re­ally spe­cial meet­ing Sarah and Yu­daya. They told me a lot more about my grand­mother – she was born in Uganda, then mar­ried my grandfather, who was In­dian, when she was just 13. It was amaz­ing be­ing in their house be­cause I could feel the same love from them that I’d had from my grand­mother.

What else did you learn about her? It’s so sad. Her fa­ther, Moidin, was of Turk­ish and In­dian de­scent and her mother, Razia, was Ugan­dan. But when her fa­ther died, the Asian side of the fam­ily took my grand­mother away be­cause they didn’t want her to be brought up as African. She still saw her mother, but they couldn't com­mu­ni­cate be­cause they spoke dif­fer­ent lan­guages, so they just used to touch each other and hold hands.

You also dis­cov­ered that the ru­mours that you’re de­scended from African roy­alty were true. Did that sur­prise you?

Yes, the thing I never thought was go­ing to be true is true! My great great-great grandfather, Ka­manyiro Mag­imbi, was a chief­tain and his sis­ter was the mother of King Mu­teesa I of Bu­ganda! Ka­manyiro wasn’t just any chief, ei­ther. He was an amaz­ing man who stood up to the English ex­plor­ers. He didn’t suc­ceed, but it’s an in­cred­i­ble story.

Will the fact that you have royal blood change you?

I don’t think so, al­though I still don’t know if it means we get a stake in Uganda! But it’s one thing to say you’ve got African blood and quite an­other to say you’re part of the Ugan­dan royal fam­ily. Do you feel proud now you’re aware of your African her­itage? Ab­so­lutely. This whole ex­pe­ri­ence has taught me that so­ci­ety puts us into boxes and says, ‘You’re Mus­lim, you’re Pak­istani, you’re African’, but ac­tu­ally we’re all a bit of ev­ery­thing and none of us knows who we are un­til we look into our back­grounds.

None of us knows who we are un­til we look into our back­grounds

You’ve re­cently starred in Ack­ley Bridge, which is one of this year’s most talked about shows. Are you ex­cited about the sec­ond se­ries? Re­ally ex­cited! It’s been such a de­par­ture from do­ing some­thing like Cit­i­zen Khan. It’s been a chal­lenge, but re­fresh­ing too, and I’ve had to learn a lot from the other ac­tors like Jo Joyner, Liz White and Paul Ni­cholls. I love that the show isn’t scared of tak­ing on tough sub­jects, but that it also doesn’t take it­self too se­ri­ously. There’s a real en­ergy and raw­ness to it, which I think is what makes it so pop­u­lar.

is pre­viewed on pages 76-77

Clown prince: The comic ac­tor un­earths his African roots

adil ray

fam­ily af­fair: Adil Ray (front cen­tre) with grand­mother Aisha and cousins

Adil in BBC’S

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