Amir Khan and Faryal Makhdoom have been in and out of press headlines ever since their whirlwind romance began in 2012. Paparazzi and celebrity gossip have followed them ever since, through Khan’s boxing career and through the near-collapse of their marriage in 2017. Now, the couple are taking matters into their own hands and giving their fans the first real inside scoop into their personal, day-to-day lives with their new reality series ‘Meeting the Khans: Big in Bolton’. Dropping on BBC Three on March 28, the new show will take us into Amir and Faryal’s life, and show us what they really get up to everyday.
We caught up with the pair to ask them all about their new series, what it was like opening up for the first time and how their celebrity status affects their mental health…
How did the series come about and what are your hopes for the show?
Amir: We wanted to show what our life is about, what my life is about, not only in the ring but outside of the ring. To show what we’re like as a family at home, being a Muslim, being someone from England. We’re normal people but at the same time we have all of our other engagements. You get to see how we deal with things, and how busy we are with our work and everything else.
Faryal: I think, for me, I wanted to show I’m not just a mum or Amir’s wife, but also an influencer; I have my own brand. We’re a young couple with small children trying our best to juggle life, and we’ve had our ups and downs. I wanted to show the positivity of our relationship and how we managed to get through it and we’re in such a better place now.
This series revolves around giving an unprecedented level of access to yourselves. Years after joining social media, you both continue to still face a lot of negativity on a daily basis? What goes through your head when you read hurtful comments?
Amir: Look, you always end up getting hate. I think the day you don’t get negative stuff said to you is when no one is really talking about you. So I don’t really mind it, to be honest. I’ve always used it as a motivation when people talk bad about you. I use that as motivation to make me work harder and train harder.
Faryal: I think it does put me down sometimes. I think that’s why I spoke about mental health so much [in the series] because I think mentally it really takes a toll and it upsets you.
Amir: I think it gives us an opportunity to tell our story so people get to see us the way we want them to see us and the way we really are. There’s nothing fake about us.
Amir, do you think the perception that people have of you, both as a boxer and as a person, is a fair one?
Amir: The last couple of years I think people have got to see me in different areas. For example, one was when I did ‘I’m A Celebrity’. People got to see a different side to me and thought ‘You know what, he’s not a bad guy!’. People normally saw me around fight times, and you know when you are quite nervous, you might come out as quite arrogant. You can’t really control what people say so I just deal with that as it comes. My main focus is to show the real me.
Faryal: We both feel that mental health is so important especially for the young generation and I think it was really important to touch base on that. Especially with being an influencer and having all these eyes on us. It just really takes a toll so I think it was so important in this day and age to really point that issue out and help people out.
You’ve talked about the media attention you receive. As parents, do you worry about your kids growing up with that in the background and is it something that you try to protect them from?
Faryal: That’s a good question because just yesterday my daughter was asking if she could have a Youtube channel! Really I don’t think I would be able to take anyone writing any sort of hate under my daughter’s videos or her pictures or anything, because of whose daughter she is. It was so hard to explain that to her and it’s not fair for children to have to hear or see any of that. They’re just normal kids growing up.
Amir: Maybe I would’ve said to her that she can if she wants. Sometimes, you have to just grow up with that as well because it’s going to happen.
Faryal: Not when she’s six! I’m thick-skinned. I can take everything, but, sometimes, it even puts me down which is why I went to a therapist and spoke about it. I couldn’t imagine my children going through that.
Amir: I really liked the reality show because, in a way, it shows the real you and you can’t fake it. The press usually say “You’re like this or like this”, they make you a certain way.
Faryal: You can use your own voice.
Amir: You are your voice. You go out there and you show people what you are really about. I think people get to see your real personality and I think with me, people always see me as a tough guy, as a strong guy. They don’t see the funny side, the father side.
Did you have any concerns or apprehensions about doing the series to begin with?
Amir: I was quite nervous. I wake up in the morning and the cameras are there. It was very different for me.
Faryal: I think the only bit that I was a bit hesitant about was showing my kids. It is just one of those things, they have to eventually have their own personality. That was the only thing I had mixed feelings on.
Amir: We just want you guys to see the first one. I think that the demand will be there. At the end of the day, we want people to enjoy this show. Do they want to see more? We want to ask that question later, and I really do believe that yes would be the answer. It’s fun, it definitely connects with people our age and older.