Which British Soaps have featured South Asian Dancing?

British soaps thrive on inclusivity and representation. We take a look at which ones have featured South Asian dancing.

Which British Soaps have featured South Asian Dancing_ - F

"It's so colourful and so much fun to watch."

British soaps have long been a firm fixture of UK television.

One of the things these programmes do so expertly is include people and races from all walks of life.

These groups include the South Asian community in spades.

Over several decades, the shows have represented the Desi demographic within their storylines, iconography, and characters.

Some of the storylines feature dance routines that are resplendent within South Asians.

Viewers of this background love seeing their roots project through dance via the soaps.

Equally, audiences that are not South Asian are introduced to entertaining and diverse dances.

DESIblitz delves into the soaps that have included dancing of this demographic.

So, sit back and find out which British soaps have featured South Asian dancing.

EastEnders

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Set in the fictional Albert Square, EastEnders has been the flagship soap opera of the BBC since its inception in 1985.

Even in the show’s early years, the programme prided itself on representing South Asian characters.

A key component of this representation was the art of dance.

For example, in January 2010, the characters Syed Masood (Marc Elliott) and Amira Masood (Preeya Kalidas) got married.

Amidst a lot of fanfare, the couple perform a vibrant mehndi dance.

Music blares out of speakers but even that is drowned out by the cheers of the people attending the celebration.

In 2011, this routine was repeated at the wedding celebrations of Tamwar Masood (Himesh Patel) and Afia Khan (Meryl Fernandes).

As Afia, Meryl looks gorgeous as she performs the routine, showing the elegance of South Asian dance.

Years later, in March 2023, Nish Panesar (Navin Chowdhry) broke into an energetic bhangra with Freddie Slater (Bobby Brazier) and Bobby Beale (Clay Milner Russell).

Nish is one of the show’s most detestable villains. However, that didn’t stop viewers from praising his fun trait.

One fan comments: “It’s great to see Nish’s fun side.”

With so much diversity brimming in its episodes through dance, it’s no surprise that EastEnders is one of the most popular British soaps.

Hollyoaks

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Weddings are the perfect opportunity for British soaps to display intricate and colourful dance.

In 2022, during the wedding festivities of Shaq Qureshi (Omar Malik) and Nadira Valli (Ashling O’Shea), Hollyoaks embraced Bollywood in all its glory.

The routine was choreographed by Ria Meera Munshi from Ri Ri’s Dance Academy.

Ria sheds light on the experience of working with Hollyoaks to create this unique showcase.

She explains: “In the initial part of the choreography, I wanted more of an improvisation.

“The main section is very much choreographed.

“In the chorus, the cast have their little moments with their characters.

“On the other hand, the supporting artists are continuing with their dancing.

“It’s so colourful and so much fun to watch.

“[One scene] is not so conventional. It’s very much a stream of consciousness which I loved to choreograph.

“It was actually quite challenging for me, to see how to work with Shaq’s thoughts and bring that into a movement sense.

“When I was choreographing the baaraat scene and teaching it, I literally had 10 to 15 basic Bollywood dance steps that I gave to everybody that they could then mix and match.

“The more we worked on it, the more we had this teamwork going on. It looks amazing.”

Doctors

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Continuing with the theme of Bollywood, we come to the BBC daytime soap Doctors.

In this award-winning scene from 2017, Dr Heston Carter (Owen Brenman) proposes to Ruhma Hanif (Bharti Patel).

The dance routine shows dapper men in sparkling kurtas, while women glisten in colourful sarees.

A Hindi song plays in the background, with the singer-songwriter Navin Kundra making an appearance.

Divulging into the routine, Navin says:

“I got contacted by the production team, who had this whole idea of wanting to put on a big Bollywood extravaganza.

“I submitted about three or four songs and they chose this one – ‘Mehbooba’. This is a straight-up Hindi song.

“Based on what I had seen [in Doctors], I rewrote parts of the song in English.

“This is all centred around a proposal and the words do all the talking in the song.

“I know that the whole team was working full-on for this. It is a completely new thing for Doctors.

“I’m not really a dancer but I enjoyed being pushed out of my comfort zone.

“Hats off to all of the cast who managed to pull this off so well.

“It was such a fun day and it translates onscreen. So colourful and full of music which you don’t really get on soap operas these days.

“So, I’m very proud and well done to the whole crew of Doctors.

Award Winner

At the 2018 British Soap Awards, the Bollywood proposal from Doctors was one of the winners of ‘Scene of the Year’.

During the winner’s speech, the recipient exclaims: “Nobody died, nobody cried, we just danced!

“I have to hand it to the choreographers and the dance team from Bollywood Dreams in Leicester. They were amazing.

“To the cast who put in so much rehearsal together.

“Navin, for writing, producing, and performing the song.

“And to the crew, who were just astonishing.

“To produce something of that quality, of that speed, that pace, and that elegance in almost a day is just extraordinary.

“They amaze me every time I work with them.”

The dance routine is original, unique, and fun. With Doctors sadly set to end in December 2024, it leaves behind a gem in the form of the Bollywood proposal.

British soaps canvas equality and diversity in their content.

It is utterly fabulous when they channelise this commendable factor through the medium of dance.

By working with professional choreographers who share these missions and values, they can bring wonderful things to our screens.

These South Asian dance sequences inspire and motivate viewers to explore things they otherwise would not have done.

And that’s what these programmes do so well – educating while also entertaining their audience.

It is no wonder why these dramas enjoy such loyal viewership and fanbases.

So, next time your favourite British soaps bring you something so exciting, be sure to get up and shake a leg too!



Manav is a creative writing graduate and a die-hard optimist. His passions include reading, writing and helping others. His motto is: “Never hang on to your sorrows. Always be positive."

Images courtesy of YouTube and EastEnders Wiki Fandom.

Videos courtesy of YouTube.





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