Welcome to a new series on this blog, which will attempt to introduce some fresh understanding into areas that may have been overlooked. It should be noted that whilst every attempt will be made to ensure that little known facts is broadly accurate - there is no guarantee that is, and anyone quoting from it in the future may end up looking rather foolish.
It is a little known fact that Tariq Ali was originally scheduled to play the role of a Pakistani Marxist doctor in the early episodes of Eastenders. Indeed he even promoted this as a groundbreaking opportunity for Asian born actors in his Guardian column of the time ‘Pompous Perspectives from Pimlico’.
However, after a row over a parking space at Elstree Studios, Lahore's greatest living thinker was replaced by the character of Dr Legg. Only one pilot recording had been made, featuring ‘Dr Ali’ reading Black Dwarf in his surgery whilst he waits for patients (no speaking dialogue was allowed, as Ali was not a member of Equity).
BBC Director General Mark Thompson had to sign off his sacking as it was feared that replacing a Pakistani Doctor with a Jewish one may damage the then perilous Middle East peace process. However, after Ariel Sharon said he could not see what all the fuss was about, Thompson decided it was OK to go ahead.
And Tariq Ali has never worked for the BBC since….