Arsher Ali stars in the new series of the hit teen comedy
American High School always seemed cooler than going to a UK comprehensive. They have no uniform rules, hot basketball players, the chance to cheer them on, and best of all, the prospect of going to a glamourous summer prom. But then again, High School also has a higher percentage of geeks. As actor Arsher Ali confesses to know about: ‘I never liked American High School! All I’d seen of it was Saved By The Bell and you wouldn’t want to be Screech. I certainly never had any ambitions to go to summer camp. You couldn’t tear me away from the streets, I’d much rather be out playing cricket.’
Fast forward a decade and not only is the Brit actor starring in a comedy series which involves high school kids and is set in the US, he’s re-defining the whole concept of geek.
Arsher plays A-rab, a soccer coach in Beaver Falls, a teen series on E4 that revolves around three British under-graduates who spend their vacation ‘teaching’ at a High School summer camp. In a role that’s a far cry from playing Hassan, in the British black comedy Four Lions, as well as the numerous appearances he’s made in several major drama series. For a start, Arsher’s character is caught up in his own emotional dramas, as well as tending to those of the kids. In series one of Beaver Falls, A-rab went to camp to heal his broken heart. Arsher explains: ‘He asked Rachael, the girl of his dreams, to marry him. But then she slept with his best mate.’
In series two Rachael turns up at Beaver Falls to confuse A-rab, who finds himself having an unexpected one-night stand. Not something that Arsher could ever consider doing himself. He assures: ‘One night stands are messy. I’d never have one – you lose a bit of your soul every time you do.’ But has he ever experienced the same heartbreak as A-rab? ‘I’ve had my heart broken a lot, but thankfully not for the last five years!’
Beaver Falls is up there with the quirkyness of other teen series on E4 like Skins, Misfits and The Inbetweeners, but it’s the first time there has been an Asian actor in a lead role. So does this mean Arsher, an untypical celeb, is having to deal with the pressures of fame? Arsher reveals: ‘It’s more like a secret society know me. Beaver Falls isn’t mainstream, but it is to young people. It’s strange to go around and be spotted by teenagers while adults don’t notice me!’
Watching Beaver Falls, it’s still quite hard to believe he’s the same guy who starred in Four Lions - a movie about Islamic terrorists. Yet it must be every actor’s dream to not be typecast? Asher says: ‘To be honest I never wanted to be an actor, I thought I’d be a journalist. Looking back at Four Lions I’m proud I was part of such a historic film but there are still very few roles I’d take on. Beaver Falls has been a completely different experience and it’s so fantastic to be in the second series.’
Beaver Falls, series 2 starts on E4 on Monday 5th August.
Series 1 is available on DVD from mid August.
Follow Arsher on Twitter @arsherali