‘We Are Lady Parts’ Creator Nida Manzoor On Working With Malala Yousafzai & Meera Syal In Season Two Of Her Punk Comedy And Plans To Write An “Alt Bond” Spy Movie

EXCLUSIVE: The second season of We Are Lady Parts has dropped to acclaim on both sides of the pond and now Nida Manzoor, its creator, writer and director is back at her laptop working up projects including an ‘alt Bond’ spy movie.

Manzoor speaks to Deadline soon after the season two launch of We Are Lady Parts, the punk comedy-drama, which has struck a chord with critics as well as viewers on Channel 4 in the UK and Peacock in the U.S.

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Season two follows the titular punk band as they gain some recognition and navigate the choppy waters of the music business, meeting some of its sharks along the way. They also have to contend with competition from Gen-Z upstart band, Second Wife.

The sophomore run sees each member of the band grappling with different issues, with comedic and dramatic consequences in equal measure: Amina (Anjana Vasan) moves from people-pleaser into her villain era; Ayesha (Juliette Motamed) is dealing with whether she should come out; Saira (Sarah Kameela Impey) is struggling with the direction the band; Bisma (Faith Omole) is grappling with her identity and motherhood, and band manager Momtaz (Lucie Shorthouse) is hustling to get the money together for studio time.

Malala Made Me Do It

Highlights of season two include an appearance from human rights icon Malala Yousafzai and a guest starring role for British actress Meera Syal.

It’s not often Nobel Prize-winners turn up in TV comedy series, but Yousafzai appears in season two as the band play their original song Malala Made Me Do It. “She’s done such important work for girls’ and women’s education and made a real and meaningful impact, but just getting to honor her sense of humor was really fun, because she’s funny, she’s got a really dark sense of humor and is really witty,” Manzoor says.

Yousafzai sits on horseback as the band play, and her appearance on set caused a stir, Manzoor explains: “We were all pinching ourselves. I was a mess, but she was so kind and generous.”

Meera Syal’s punk turn

Another guest was Meera Syal, who plays Sister Squire, a punk rocker from an earlier generation to Lady Parts and who dishes some tough love to Saira. Syal has been honored with a BAFTA Fellowship and her groundbreaking sketch show Goodness Gracious Me is a UK comedy classic.

Manzoor acknowledges both Syal’s craft and the fact she blazed a trail in the industry. “I remember watching Goodness Gracious Me and it was the first thing I’d seen of South Asian people being funny but also subversive on TV,” she says. “It was so radical, and Meera’s so much at the heart of it and so hilarious. Seeing her work since then, she’s been a trailblazer.

“She’s has genuinely been the kind of creative that had to open the doors for someone like me to come through and for a show like We Are Lady Parts to exist,” Manzoor says. “I fully went after her, wrote her a letter and it was just really lucky that she was a fan of the show. Between having her and Malala, honestly, I think I’ve peaked.”

Alt-Bond & Bradford sci-fi

Manzoor is more likely just getting started. She is moving between film and TV and her feature, Polite Society, debuted at Sundance. She tells Deadline she is working on ideas for the big and small screen.

“I’m developing a spy movie idea and a sci-fi TV show that’s sort of set in [Northern English city] Bradford,” she says. Expanding on the spy movie idea, she says it will be “weird and kind of an alt Bond.” It sounds like it might have hefty slices of action too. “I love directing action and I love action movies, so I definitely want to do more of that. I want to do a really fun, wild action movie.”

Whatever comes next will also be funny — “comedy is at the heart of everything I do,” Manzoor says. “But also mixing that with society, with action or with music. I’m just always interested in how we can use genre to tell stories we haven’t heard before.”

We Are Lady Parts is produced by Working Title Television, which is part of Universal International Studios, a division of Universal Studio Group.

“The vision for the show that came in the door was exactly what the show ended up being,” Beatrice Springborn, President at Universal Content Productions and Universal International Studios tells Deadline.

“When you have someone who’s that skilled at projecting what they want to say, who has a point of view, knows how to write, knows how to direct, and has all those skillsets, it’s easy for the studio to take a light touch,” Springborn adds. “And she had a really amazing partners in [Exec Producer] Surian Fletcher-Jones and the guys at Working Title.

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