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Arsher Ali has starred alongside actors including Josh Hartnett, James Nesbitt, and Riz Ahmed, but his career as a much sought-after screen star happened almost by accident.
The 37-year-old Nottingham-born actor studied media studies at college with the aim of becoming a sports journalist. He only studied A-Level Performing Arts to woo the girls!
The rest, as they say, is history.
Fast forward to the present day, and the British-Pakistani actor - who's married to Emmerdale actress Roxy Shahidi, with whom he has a four-year-old daughter - has a seriously impressive resume.
He's currently starring in Funny Woman with Gemma Arterton on Sky Max and NOW.
From top TV and movie appearances in Line of Duty, The Missing, The Fear Index and Four Lions, we round up Arsher Ali’s top roles - and where you might recognise him from…
The Fear Index - Hugo Quarry
Arsher Ali is currently starring in financial cyber-thriller The Fear Index, alongside Josh Hartnett, Leila Farzad and Gregory Montel. He plays Hugo, the business partner and best friend of Dr Alex Hoffman (Harnett).
Based on Robert Harris' 2011 novel of the same name, The Fear Index delves into the murky world of financial markets and dangerous conspiracies.
Speaking to BT.com exclusively, Arsher Ali says of the role: "I’m just like Hugo in the book in some ways, but in some ways, the character is having to fight for his place at the table, against other forces who want to keep him down, which is why he strikes out on his own."
Watch Arsher Ali and the cast talk about the book to TV adaptation below:
Watch The Fear Index on Sky Atlantic with a NOW Entertainment Membership.
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Ackley Bridge - Samir Qureshi
From 2017-2018, Arsher Ali starred in Channel 4's TV series Ackley Bridge, about two culturally different schools that merge into one. He played Samir Qureshi, head of pastoral care at the school. From a bad background, Samir reformed himself and wanted to help others at Ackley Bridge.
In an interview with Channel 4, Arsher Ali said that the character of Samir is supposed to be the link between home, school and the community: "Sami has a real care and respect for his job, as it's helped give him a second chance".
Watch Ackley Bridge Series 1-4 on All4 and BritBox.
Line of Duty - PC Hari Bains
One of Arsher Ali’s most famous roles is playing PC Harinderpal 'Hari' Bains in series 3 of the BBC’s critically acclaimed crime drama, Line of Duty.
Hari Bains worked in Strategic Firearms Command under Sergeant Danny Waldron (Danny Mays), before DC Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) went undercover in the unit.
The series, which aired on BBC One in 2016, has been named the best Line of Duty series of all time by DigitalSpy.
Watch Line of Duty Series 1-6 on BBC iPlayer.
The Missing - Malik Suri
Arsher Ali starred in the first season of crime drama The Missing alongside James Nesbitt in 2014.
He played Malik Suri, a ruthless journalist who put all his ethics aside in order to break a story first, including harassing dad Tony (Nesbitt).
The series - penned by Harry and Jack Williams (Liar) - was hugely popular with audiences and critics alike, but being the bad guy on a primetime TV show had its downsides.
Arsher Ali told What's On TV: "I knew I was going to be hated by the nation or whoever watches it... It was tough. I had people's mums telling me how evil I was."
Watch The Missing Series 1-2 on BBC iPlayer.
Beaver Falls - Adil 'A-Rab' Hussain
You might recognise Arsher Ali from the various crime dramas he's appeared in, but one of his first TV projects was in the E4 teen comedy series, Beaver Falls, in 2011-2012.
He played the role of A-Rab, one of the graduates who deceives his way into working at an American summer camp called Beaver Falls.
Ali, who's been vocal throughout his career about the challenges faced by ethnic actors and his continued fight against racial typecasting, called the role a 'breath of fresh air' as it wasn't defined by his ethnicity.
He told Comedy.co.uk: "[Doing Beaver Falls] didn't involve me playing a terrorist. That's rapture for an Asian actor. I don't die, I don't get blown up at the end, I get to see the character through, and he's human and multidimensional."
Watch Beaver Falls Series 1-2 on All4 and Netflix.
Four Lions - Hassan
Arsher Ali's breakout role was in the 2010 black comedy film, Four Lions, in which he starred alongside Riz Ahmed (The Night Of), Kayvan Novak (Fonejacker), Nigel Lindsay (Victoria), and Adeel Akhtar (Ali & Ava).
Ali played Hassan, one of a group of homegrown terrorist jihadis from Sheffield. The film was co-written by Chris Morris, Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong (the latter two writers went on to create Peep Show, Fresh Meat and Succession).
In a 2020 article for NME, TV critic Paul Bradshaw labelled the satirical comedy film "as relevant as ever". He wrote: "Four Lions only seems to have gotten better with age. Not just one of the funniest British comedies ever made, it’s also up there with the most relevant responses to what’s going on in the world."
Four Lions is available to rent or buy on the BT Player and Prime Video.