‘RENAISSANCE man’ Nick Ahad has many strings to his bow- journalist, broadcaster, theatre critic, playwright, soap scriptwriter, actor, and now stand-up comedian.

But, as he tells Anila Baig, at the heart of it all he is just someone with a story to tell.

“I HAVE a joke about it, ‘they come here and steal our jobs’ except it’s me who has stolen all the jobs,” he quips.

But today we are discussing the serious topic of his play, Partition, which will arrive at the Alhambra Studio in Bradford next month (Nov).

The carving up of India to create Pakistan in 1947 left both countries reeling and still bearing those terrible scars so wasn’t Nick worried he was taking on a mammoth project?

“I have done a lot of research and I am very proud of this play. It is essentially a love story between a Sikh boy and a Muslim girl against the backdrop of Partition.

“Some people will watch it and see a simple love story and that’s fine while maybe some others will see it on a deep and symbolic level and recognise that the two people represent the actual nations that were divided.”

In many ways all second generation British Asians identify with ‘partition’ feeling divided, separated, at odds with our ‘Asianness’ not quite fitting in in the country in which we were born but for Nick that feeling was even more intense.

Growing up in Keighley with a Bangladeshi Muslim father and English mother Nick, along with his brother Jason and sisters Soraya and Shakara, he had many facets to his upbringing. Culturally a Muslim, he attended a Roman Catholic primary school. His paternal grandparents ran a pub in Keighley while his father worked in restaurants and on the buses.

His writing talent was spotted early and his English teacher told his parents to register him for the Bradford Grammar School entrance exam.

“She said I was rubbish at everything else but I had a lot of imagination. My parents had never heard of BGS- dad worked in a takeaway and my mum was a cleaner- but they took me down for the exam.”

He won an assisted place at the school.

“I was fat, poor and Asian and at times it was a struggle but looking back it was brilliant for me.”

Perhaps with his eclectic religious background he chose to do Theology at Kent University. “I literally had no idea what I wanted to do.”

University life was filled with drama- in that he took part in amateur dramatics and wanted to become an actor.

“I’d been in all the school plays and all through university I was in a lot of productions but my dad said no to me becoming an actor so it fell by the wayside.”

He has his mother, Denise, to thank for his career as a journalist as she rang up the editor of the Keighley News and asked him to give her son work experience.

“When we were young we were child models so my mum knew the editor. I wrote my first column about university and had a photo byline and I was hooked.”

He eventually trained in journalism where he won ‘all the awards going’ and worked in Wiltshire before coming up to Leeds to join the Yorkshire Evening Post.

Still obsessed with the theatre, he edited a supplement in his own time before being appointed Arts editor at the Yorkshire Post.

When he was asked to talk about the arts on Radio Leeds as a guest he loved it so much he asked if he could become a regular. In little under a year he had his own show, Little Nick’s Big Show. He is also a regular contributor on Radio 4’s Front Row.

At the same time he was taking scriptwriting courses but was frustrated at the lack of opportunities for ethnic minority writers.

“I wanted voices like mine to be heard. I have a massive chip on my shoulder about this: I come from a working class background and I’m an ethnic minority, why can’t my stories be told?

“I was getting really fed up. I had done a lot of courses but I couldn’t get my foot in the door so I approached Bradford’s Theatre in the Mill and asked for some space. I applied for Arts Council funding which I didn’t get so I had to tell the actors I can’t afford to pay you.”

That was in 2012. By the following year he had written a number of plays including ‘Muslamic Love Story’ and was writing for Emmerdale.

He also wrote ‘The Chef Show’ set in an Indian restaurant and directed by Stefan Escreet. The play won the Rural Touring Award for Stage Performance of the Year 2018 and is set to tour again next year.

Married to actress Mez Galaria since September 2016 it was when he went to New York on their honeymoon that he discovered another passion.

“We were in Greenwich Village at a comedy club and I couldn’t believe it, I was buzzing, and Mez turned round to me and said: ‘You know I have never seen you this excited about anything.’

“So I thought why not give stand up comedy a go.”

He has now got 17 gigs under his belt including a turn at the Edinburgh Fringe which he claims was a disaster.

“I was the only brown face there and I made a joke which didn’t go down too well.”

But with his rich cultural heritage to draw upon and his dogged determination I’m sure he will end up having the last laugh.

Partition is on at the Leeds Playhouse, Nov 6 - 10.

Bradford Alhambra Studio, Nov 14, 15.