The team behind podcast breakouts Serial and S-Town have set their latest audio project – a podcast series about an alleged conspiracy to introduce an Islamist agenda into schools in the UK.
Serial Productions, which was acquired by The New York Times Company in 2020, is producing The Trojan Horse Affair with host Brian Reed, who was behind Serial follow-up S-Town, and Hamza Syed, a doctor-turned-reporter.
The pair are investigating a mystery at the heart of a scandal that emerged in the UK in 2013.
When a strange letter kicked off a national panic in Britain, Syed was skeptical. The letter appeared to be a secret communique between Islamic extremists who’d been infiltrating the city schools in Birmingham – Syed’s hometown – in a supposed plot called Operation Trojan Horse. The letter led to a crackdown on Muslim educators and harsh new British counterterrorism measures.
But Syed suspected the public had been misled and the only way to prove it was to answer the one question that, remarkably, no official or investigator had bothered to look into: Who wrote the Trojan Horse letter — and why? When Syed decided to go back to school for investigative journalism, he pitched this as his first story. To report it, he teamed up with Reed and the creators of Serial.
The pair discover that who wrote the Trojan Horse letter was really only the first mystery to solve, as it started to seem like officials knew more than they were letting on. Had an entire country been duped?
The series, which launches on February 3, was edited by Serial host and co-creator Sarah Koenig and produced by Reed, Syed and Rebecca Laks, along with the staff at Serial Productions and The New York Times.
“The Trojan Horse Affair is investigative reporting on a roller coaster,” said Julie Snyder, the executive editor for Serial. “The story itself is rooted in the most traditional practices of ‘who knew what when,’ but each chapter in the tale is also like its own bizarre mystery novel. Each time you think you’ve arrived at an obvious answer, another mystery unfolds.”