Welcome to Tehran - a journey by Rageh Omaar
BBC Four continues to build its reputation for investigative and insightful
documentaries with the announcement today of its plans to broadcast Rageh
Omaar's unique journey inside Iran early next year.
It is a film which demonstrates a marked departure from current affairs
coverage of this fascinating but often misunderstood country.
Welcome to Tehran (1 x 90 min) is an observational documentary that sets out to look at the
region and its people not through politicians, officials and analysts but
through the eyes of ordinary Iranians.
Omaar has visited Tehran - the region's capital - once before as a news reporter, filming the incendiary demonstrations and recording the uncompromising statements from officials since the aftermath of the Islamic Revolution of 1979.
But his experiences of being in the city never left him.
He says: "There is an
energy and vitality to the place that is completely different from the usual
images we in the West have of it. And that's why I wanted to return."
In making the film, Omaar tried to see Iran from the inside by visiting
people's homes and travelling through a rich variety of neighbourhoods and
districts of the city.
Omaar and Producer/Director Paul Sapin struggled for
a year to get the right kind of access which gave them the freedom to fully
explore these rarely filmed areas.
The film is told as a journey through
Tehran but also as a very personal essay by Omaar as he digs deeper into this
complex and fascinating society.
Omaar's journey takes him under the skin of the city and he meets with local
people who share with him their personal stories and feelings about the current
state of affairs in Iran.
There are stories of taxi drivers; wrestlers;
business women; people working with drug addicts and the country's leading pop
star and his manager - the Simon Cowell of Iran - who drove Omaar around
Tehran in his Mercedes-Benz.
Paul Sapin says: "Iran has become a closed society
to the West and it is a real challenge to produce a genuine documentary in this
region due to problems with access for Western journalists, but wherever we
went, we were met with warmth and hospitality.
"Iran is not the austere,
humourless place we're led to believe and that was certainly Rageh's
Notes to Editors
Rageh Omaar began his career in journalism in 1990 as a trainee at The Voice
newspaper in Brixton.
He reported from Baghdad for seven years on Saddam
Hussein's Iraq before becoming BBC News' Africa Correspondent.
He is now based
in Johannesburg where he reports on conflict situations around the world.
Rageh is also a high profile presenter and has fronted special programmes for
BBC Panorama and Everyman strands.
He was voted EMMA's best media
correspondent in 2003.