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‘Virdee’: Pharmacist crime novelist’s bestsellers to be made into BBC series

The BBC has commissioned a six-part series called Virdee, based on the detective novels by pharmacist A.A. Dhand.

Pharmacist A.A. Dhand’s bestselling Harry Virdee crime novels will be adapted into a six-part television series, the BBC yesterday (August 24) announced.

Mr Dhand is a registered pharmacist based in Yorkshire who has published a series of crime novels chronicling the life of Bradford detective Harry Virdee. 

The new BBC series will introduce the titular cop – played by Sacha Dhawan who is known for Doctor Who, The Great, and Wolf – whose personal life is “in chaos” after his Sikh family disowns him for marrying a Muslim woman, the BBC said. 

Read more: Podcast – Pharmacists after Hours Ep.3: The crime fiction author

While Virdee struggles to “reunite” with his family, he works to hunt down a murderer “targeting the Asian community”, it added.

When the killer kidnaps a local MP’s daughter and holds the whole city to ransom, Virdee “realises that he is going to need the help of his brother-in-law Riaz, a drugs kingpin who runs the largest cartel in the county”, it said.

Over six hour-long episodes, Virdee will face a dramatic choice to “save himself and his family or save his city”, the national broadcaster added.


“Powerful and gripping”


Mr Dhand said that Virdee is, like him, “a proud Brit” with big dreams and a passion for his heritage who “refuses to be shackled by the past”. 

As well as adapting his novels for the screen, he is also a co-executive producer on the series, the BBC said.

Lindsay Salt, director of BBC Drama, said that the broadcaster was “thrilled to be working with Amit”, adding that Virdee is a “powerful and gripping detective story” with a love story at its heart.

“With Sacha in the lead role of Harry and Bradford providing the perfect backdrop, I can’t wait for viewers to be captivated by this series,” she added.

Read more: 'I've always loved to read': The pharmacist with a passion for writing romantic fiction

The BBC said that the detective series will be filmed this year “in and around Bradford”, with further casting to be announced “in due course”.

It added that the series is “an essential part” of the run-up to Bradford’s designation as the “UK City of Culture” 2025. 

The Screen Academy Bradford will be running training programmes “particularly among underserved groups” in the city to “address specific crew shortages and skills gaps” in its production, the BBC said.


Pharmacists with second careers


Mr Dhand is not the only pharmacist with a passion for the creative arts.

In February, C+D interviewed Laura Buckley, a pharmacist with a passion for writing romantic fiction, who had just published her second novel - Love, Technically Speaking.

Northamptonshire pharmacist Graham Brack is also a crime fiction author. His first series, the Josef Slonsky series, is set in 2006 in the Czech Republic while his latest series, the Master Mercurius Mysteries, follows a university professor in the 17th century Dutch Republic.

Read more: Swansea’s dancing pharmacist aims to inspire Welsh healthcare workers

And last month, C+D reported that Dr Zi Hong Mok, a lecturer in pharmacy, would be contributing four dance videos to an Arts Council of Wales project for healthcare workers.

Dr Mok has performed as a dancer across the UK, including at the Olympic Games opening ceremony and at the National Theatre.

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