Asian network past and present

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Monday, March 27, 2017 - 11:48

As part of Asian Network’s expansive ongoing project to mark 50 years of Asian programming on the BBC, Alchemy audiences will get the chance to delve through archive footage and rare recordings of music icons across the decades, such as Lata Mangeshkar, the ‘nightingale of India’, and Qawwali megastar Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

Evocative highlights of the archive also include a flashback to Britain’s seminal 1990s bhangra scene and a display charting the history of Asian arts at Southbank Centre. 

There’s also an important platform for outspoken young voices at Alchemy, led by the award-winning Asian Network DJ Mim Shaikh. The 23-year-old is clearly relishing his radio show, which mixes an eclectic playlist selection with discussions on themes including music, film, fashion, culture and social issues. ‘It’s the biggest amount of freedom I’ve ever experienced in relation to being on-air’, he says.

Shaikh also makes his debut as an Alchemy festival presenter for 2016, as he hosts a live version of his popular topical weekly panel discussion, the Shaikh Debate. This time last year, he was in the midst of Alchemy’s crowds: ‘I remember seeing people from all backgrounds dancing and getting down to some bhangra,’ he enthuses.

‘I love having a good old chinwag with anyone, so to be able to do it in front of a live audience rather than behind the radio microphones will be a new experience,’ he says, of the prospect of focusing on face-to-face audience debate, in contrast with phone-ins and Twitter feeds. ‘Also, the theme is close to my heart. Young people working in creative industries is such a vast topic, and it’s one that I want to try and help inspire and make easier for other youngsters trying to land their dream jobs.’

He’s also positive that a variety of strong young attitudes will be at the heart of Alchemy. ‘I feel that youth culture is a key element, full stop,’ he says. ‘There are so many ideas, aspirations and hopes with young people. The majority of young people I know are more mature than certain adults! So it’s important, and it’s great that Alchemy is championing youth culture through this series of Shaikh Debates.’

Archive Studio, Alchemy 2016
it’s great that Alchemy is championing youth culture