From May to September, the digital network will present a range of programming, including specialised meet the stars events, comedy, drama and dedicated programmes, hearing from voices including the king of Bollywood Shah Rukh Khan, comedy sensation Meera Syal and screen legend Madhuri Dixit.
Bob Shennan, Controller, BBC Asian Network, says: “For some years now the BBC Asian Network has been working with the biggest South Asian and British Asian musicians and actors. However, our Stars on BBC Asian Network season over the coming months is our most ambitious, varied and exciting programming yet.”
Husain Husaini, Head of Programmes, BBC Asian Network, adds: “Shah Rukh Khan is the centrepiece, the biggest star in Indian cinema has made five very personal recorded programmes for us and is also presenting a live show on the network. Listeners will get the amazing opportunity to appear with him.
"But we have far more than the King of Bollywood: we've a series where we talk to the legends of Indian cinema including Dharmendra and Manoj Kumar; four original dramas featuring some of Britain's best actors including Nina Wadia; a series celebrating our favourite British Asian comedians presented by Meera Syal; plus a special event with Pakistani cricketer, Shahid Afridi and a chance to hear our special In Conversation with… Madhuri Dixit.
"Then we go into our now traditional Summer of Melas, where we will be bringing listeners some of the biggest British Asian music stars performing live on-air. This season of programmes makes the BBC Asian Network unmissable for anyone who has an interest in Asian music, entertainment and culture.”
For the first time ever, Bollywood’s biggest star Shah Rukh Khan will present his own radio shows, gracing the station’s airwave with Shah Rukh Khan’s Heroes (28 May to 1 June). This five-part series sees the star exploring his five heroes, treating listeners to some fascinating stories along the way. He’ll also delve into the world of his favourite songs, revealing why he connects them to his five inspirations.
The King of Bollywood will also present The Shah Rukh Khan Show alongside Breakfast presenter Tommy Sandhu (20 June). Bringing him directly to Asian Network listeners, there will be the opportunity to meet the star whilst he is in the studio through an exclusive competition (details to be announced in May).
Meera Syal has always championed Asian comedy and in her four-part series Meera Syal’s Asian Comedy Story (9-12 July), she explores the history and future of the genre, reflecting on her own experiences and career. The final two parts of the series will feature highlights from Meera Syal’s Asian Comedy Night (30 April), which will showcase and celebrate the best in British Asian comedy. For full details and to apply for tickets visit bbc.co.uk/asiannetwork
In addition to The Shah Rukh Khan Show, the Meet the Stars strand includes an opportunity for listeners to meet Pakistani cricketer Shahid Afridi. He will be on hand to offer a wealth of advice at a unique one-off coaching cricket event at Edgbaston (17 July) and he will also co-present a show with evenings presenter Gagan Grewal (18 July). There will also be special Noreen Khan in Conversation with… broadcasts in May, one with musical star Adnan Sami (16 May) and another sees the Afternoon presenter talking to esteemed film actress Madhuri Dixit (23 May).
The network will spotlight Bollywood greats who have been instrumental in laying the foundations for today’s Indian cinema, in the six-part series, Living Legends (25 June-4 July). The individuals highlighted are actors, Dharmendra (25 June) and Jeetendra (2 July), actor and director, Manoj Kumar (27 June), choreographer, Saroj Khan (26 June), music composer, Khayyam (3 July) and Ghazal singer, Pankaj Udhas (4 July).
August sees a month of original dramas including, Ek Awaaz (8 August), a multi-writer production in response to the UK’s inner city riots of August 2011, with focus on the Midlands and Ask Mina (15 August), a comedy about a belligerent TV chef who refuses to let go, a producer who’s desperate to bring his show up to date and a young assistant who simply loves to cook. Beena and Dev (22 August) tells the story of a couple who are struggling to make things work after being together for ten years and finally, The Escape (29 August), is a funny, touching play about three unlikely desi women who escape prison for one day to try and put things right.
The Summer of Melas (July and August) will also feature as part of the campaign and the station will be visiting a number of cities around the country, bringing listeners the best music, highlights, picture galleries and videos from some of the best Asian artists.
Across the campaign, the BBC Asian Network website will host a wealth of content. From exclusive videos, listen again features and dedicated galleries, bbc.co.uk/asiannetwork will support the Stars on BBC Asian Network.Listeners are also encouraged to interact through a host of social media, which will also offer extra special content.