Sarfraz Manzoor

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Sarfraz Manzoor
سرفراز منظور
Manzoor in 2021
Manzoor in 2021
Born (1971-06-09) 9 June 1971 (age 50)
Lyallpur, Punjab, Pakistan
OccupationJournalist, broadcaster, Screenwriter

Sarfraz Manzoor (Urdu: سرفراز منظور; born 9 June 1971) is a British journalist, documentary maker, broadcaster, and screenwriter of Pakistani origin. He is a regular contributor to The Guardian, presenter of documentaries on BBC Radio 4, and a cultural commentator who appears on programmes such as Newsnight Review and Saturday Review. His first book, Greetings from Bury Park was published in 2007.

Early life and education[edit]

Manzoor was born in Lyallpur (now Faisalabad), the second largest city in Punjab Province and the third largest in Pakistan. He emigrated to Britain in May 1974 with his mother, older brother and sister to join their father, Mohammed Manzoor, who had left Pakistan in 1963 to find work.[1] Manzoor attended Maidenhall Infants and Primary Schools in the Bury Park district of Luton. In the autumn of 1979, Manzoor's family moved to the Marsh Farm estate and he attended Wauluds Primary School[2] and in the autumn of 1982 began at Lea Manor High School. After completing A levels at Luton Sixth Form College, Manzoor left Luton to study Economics and Politics at Manchester University. Manzoor's father died in 1995, three days before he turned 24.[3]


Manzoor worked for six years at ITN, during which he was a producer and reporter on Channel 4 News[4] interviewing such figures as Woody Allen, Brian Wilson, Sinéad O'Connor, Peter Gabriel, Don McCullin and Charlie Watts. He left Channel 4 News and joined Channel 4 as a deputy commissioning editor[5] before signing a contract with Bloomsbury Publishing for his first book.

Manzoor scripted The Great British Asian Invasion for Channel 4[6] and wrote and directed Death of a Porn Star for the same network which told the tragic story of the life and death of Lolo Ferrari. He presented a documentary for Channel 4[7] on the 2006 Guardian Hay Book Festival On the Way to Hay in which he interviewed Monica Ali and Will Self.[8]

In March 2005, Manzoor wrote and presented Luton Actually,[9] a documentary for BBC 2. The programme, a personal and affectionate portrait of his hometown, featured Manzoor tracing his family's journey from Pakistan to Luton.

In 2007, he published Greetings from Bury Park,[4] a memoir that detailed his life growing up in Luton and the twin impacts upon his life of the death of his father in 1995 and the music and especially the lyrics of Bruce Springsteen. Manzoor had admired the United States, wishing to live there, but after the experience of witnessing the 9/11 attacks in 2001 he came to view Britain as being his true home.[10]

Manzoor has written and presented documentaries for BBC Radio 4. These include From Luton Streets to Jersey Shores where he travelled to New Jersey to examine the connections between Springsteen's New Jersey and Manzoor's hometown of Luton; Don't Call Me Asian which examined the rise in British Indians and Pakistanis defining themselves by their religion and nationality rather than simply as British Asians; A Class Apart which explored the consequences of faith schools on social cohesion; Taking the Cricket Test which saw Manzoor follow the Pakistan cricket team across England during the 2006 test series; a documentary profile of Little Richard, who was interviewed;[11] a programme on matrimonial websites in August 2009;[12] a three part series Whatever Happened to the Working Class? in February 2009[13] and a programme which told the story of the George Harrison album Wonderwall Music in March 2009.[14]

Manzoor contributed an article White Girls to the literary quarterly Granta, issue 112.[15]

Manzoor has written for Daily Mail, The Guardian, The Independent, New Statesman, The Observer, Prospect, The Spectator, Uncut,[16] Marie Claire and The Times.

In 2010, Manzoor married Bridget, a speech and language therapist, a union initially disapproved of by his mother and siblings because she was a non-Muslim white woman.[17] The couple have two children.[18]


A film inspired by his life, Blinded by the Light, was released in August 2019. Manzoor co-wrote the script,[19] with Gurinder Chadha and Paul Mayeda Berges. It is based on Manzoor's memoir Greetings from Bury Park.[20]


  1. ^ Muneeza Shamsie "Of Fathers and Sons", Newsline, 1 December 2007
  2. ^ Sarfraz Manzoor "Is Luton the new Paris? No, but the birds are fit", The Observer, 24 May 2009
  3. ^ Manzoor, Sarfraz (15 August 2021). "Why I rejected my parents' wish for an arranged marriage". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 25 August 2021. (subscription required) (extract from Manzoor's memoir They: What Muslims and Non-Muslims Get Wrong About Each Other)
  4. ^ a b Muneeza Shamsie "Interview: Sarfraz Manzoor", Newsline, 1 December 2007
  5. ^ Author profile, Bloomsbury website
  6. ^ "The Great British Asian Invasion", BFI Film and TV database entry
  7. ^ Sarfraz Manzoor "Why do Asian writers have to be 'authentic' to succeed?", The Observer, 30 April 2006
  8. ^ "On the Way to Hay", Ethnic Now (press release), 25 May 2006
  9. ^ Sarfraz Manzoor "Showing 'crap town' Luton in new light", BBC News, 5 March 2005
  10. ^ John Massaro "Sarfraz Manzoor – Greetings From Bury Park: Race, Religion and Rock ‘n Roll", Spiked magazine, 15 January 2008
  11. ^ "50 Years of Little Richard", BBC Radio 4 programme page
  12. ^ "Love At First Site", BBC Radio 4, August 2009
  13. ^ "Whatevever Happened to the Working Class", BBC Radio 4 programme page
  14. ^ "Bombay's Beatle", BBC Radio 4-page, March 2009
  15. ^ Granta 112: Pakistan Essays & Memoir, 16 September 2010,, accessed 5 January 2020
  16. ^ Sarfraz Manzoor profile, BBC Newsnight Review page
  17. ^ Sarfraz Manzoor (29 September 2010). "My family said they would boycott my wedding". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
  18. ^ Manzoor, Sarfraz (18 February 2017). "Sarfraz Manzoor: Our long, hard battle to have a second child". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  19. ^ Lee, Benjamin (28 January 2019). "Blinded by the Light review – Bruce Springsteen inspires mawkish misfire". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  20. ^ "How Sarfraz Manzoor's love for Bruce Springsteen's music inspired "Blinded by the Light"". CBS This Morning. 17 August 2019. Retrieved 20 August 2019.

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