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Norwich actor to star in new BBC counter-terrorism thriler

PUBLISHED: 11:59 10 October 2018 | UPDATED: 15:27 10 October 2018

Roger Jean Nsengiyumva as Dadir Hassan in BBC One's Informer. Picture ) Neal Street productions/Photographer: Des Willie .

Roger Jean Nsengiyumva as Dadir Hassan in BBC One's Informer. Picture ) Neal Street productions/Photographer: Des Willie .

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An actor who grew up in Norwich after fleeing from the Rwandan genocides is to star in the new BBC One thriller Informer.

Raza (NABHAAN RIZWAN), Dadir Hassan (ROGER JEAN SENGIYUMVA) in BBC One's Informer.- (C) Neal Street productions - Photographer: Sophie MutevelianRaza (NABHAAN RIZWAN), Dadir Hassan (ROGER JEAN SENGIYUMVA) in BBC One's Informer.- (C) Neal Street productions - Photographer: Sophie Mutevelian

The drama, which starts on Tuesday, is a complex, character-driven thriller about Raza, a young second generation British-Pakistani man from East London who is coerced by Gabe, a Counter-Terrorism Officer into informing for him.

Gabe, who has a past he wants to remain secret, is joined by Holly, his new and ambitious partner whose endless curiosity becomes a threat to him. And as the central counter-terrorism investigation heats up, the stakes for all three, their families and relationships, get higher and higher.

The cast includes former Casualty star Sunetra Sarker, Doctor Who actress Sharon D Clarke and Roger Jean Nsengiyumva, a Rwandan-born actor, who grew up in Norwich.

He plays Dadir Hassan, a third generation British-Somali who was raised in the concrete tower blocks of East London. Charismatic, ebullient but a half-cocked hand grenade, any interaction with Dadir could end in a hug or a fist fight.

Roger, who has also starred in Tomb Raider, Sixteen and Chasing Shadows, was a pupil at the City of Norwich School and had a trial for Norwich City.

It was his footballing skills and Rwandan heritage which catapulted him into the film industry.

After starring in Africa United he went on to appear in a BBC1 docu-drama about the triumph of homo-sapiens over other ape-men.

He returned to Rwanda in 2011 to film a documentary highlighting the courage of his mother as she fought to save him from the genocide.

Informer, which is a six-art drama, was written and created by Rory Haines and Sohrab Noshirvani who came up with the idea due to an interest in how spies and handlers interact.

“For a long time the two of us had been interested in the relationship between spies and their handlers,” said Rory. “We felt it was often misrepresented in movies and TV.

“It’s usually a James Bond type character who’s running around doing everything whereas actually, the relationship between an informer and the handler is one of the key ways in which the ‘War on Terror’ is battled. We really wanted to tell that story.

“We wanted to take what we all hear in the headlines consistently about the ‘War on Terror’ and tell the actual human story as opposed to spies, conspiracies and plots.

“How does it actually affect people who live in the city and how is London impacted by it?”

Sohrab added: “This is a tricky subject matter but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t discuss it. That is the worse option to me; to just forget about it and pretend it isn’t the world we live in.

“But at the same time, we need to de-mystify it and say this is a very human thing. These headlines mean that it doesn’t feel human. It feels like it’s happening elsewhere, being done by other people but it is just people.”

• Informer airs on BBC One, Tuesday, 9pm.

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