DI Ray: Line of Duty star's new ITV drama highlights everyday racism

New crime drama DI Ray will portray the realities of being British-Asian in 2022, ITV News Arts Editor Nina Nannar reports.

The power of popular drama to enlighten is well known - and it doesn't get much more popular than Line of Duty.

Now one of the stars, Maya Sondhi, who played PC Maneet Bindra, has turned writer and highlights everyday racism in the work place. The theme is threaded through her new police drama, DI Ray.

Starring Bend It Like Beckham's Parminder Nagra, the whodunnit drama explores casual racism and ignorance in the work place.

Nagra plays a high-ranking police officer suffering the indignity of her colleagues not believing what she could be.

Writer Sondhi came up with the idea while acting in Line of Duty and sent the idea to the show’s creator Jed Mercurio.

When asked what experiences of DI Ray's she had experienced, the writer replied: “Assuming that you can speak certain languages even though you’re not from there, or just assuming that you can because you’re brown.

“I’ve been in situations where, for example writers rooms, where I’ve thought I think I’m just here to tick a box.

“But then you have to kind of get over that and go right, well I am here, so I need to prove that I deserve to be here.”

She said it was important to raise the issues of racism and ignorance, particularly in the workplace, in the drama because "awareness is brilliant".

"A lot of people probably don’t even realise they’ve said or done things, or assumed things, that actually could be quite hurtful for somebody else," she added.

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Speaking about her character, Nagra told ITV News: "She realises that she may have been brought on because of the colour of her skin because the crime is “culturally specific”.

"She then starts to wonder am I here because of my merit, or am I here because I’m ticking a box?"

Nagra, who portrayed issues around identity and racism in the hit film Bend It Like Beckham 20 years ago, said DI Ray is another opportunity to show the realities of being British Asian.

“I’ve been born and brought up in Leicester and that’s very much a part of my identity and it’s not either or.

“It’s nice to see that this is a person who’s been brought up in this culture and this is now who they are and presenting that.”

Watch DI Ray on ITV 1 on Monday or on ITV Hub