It’s not clear whether Adil Ray, creator of Citizen Khan, intended the multitalented Bhavna Limbachia to be the star of the show in her role as daughter Alia, but that series two kicks off with a story centred on Alia shows he knows it now. The result was a comedic tour de force as Mr Khan leaves aside his naked ambition to become Sparkhill Muslim community’s most renowned leader and finds himself unintentionally integrating to get his supposedly observant daughter into a Catholic school. In a scene that I think will make TV history we see Alia convert a hijab into something not unlike a nun's wimple, perhaps making the point that the first garment is not a million miles away from the second.
Alia is, of course, a modern girl enjoying a modern life while letting her father believe she is a devout Muslim. I would identify the relationship between Alia and her father as the conjunctio oppositorum holding the show’s many hilarious expeditions together as two worlds are only just kept from colliding. In the second episode, however, Ray recontextualises this by having his mother-in-law bond with a British man who turns out to be gay.
Hilarity ensues; but the many popular comedies have an edge to them as well, witness Love Thy Neighbour and Till Death do us Part. Citizen Khan’s edge is the peripheral, mute chorus of neighbours who are unhappy, for example, that Alia comes back at all hours.
Ray airs the fears of Westerners of all backgrounds in comic, therefore safer, form, eg "we Pakistanis don’t have bridesmaids; in our culture, your bride becomes your maid". Will he let the chorus step out of the wings and put the views that shock us all in their mouths? Time will tell.
Click to watch Citizen Khan S2E1: Alia's college - BBC i-player
Click to watch Citizen Khan S2E2: Naani's Day Out - BBC i-player