Moroccan actor Youssef Kerkour receives Bafta nomination for role in British comedy series 'Home'

The sitcom tells the story of a Syrian refugee, played by Kerkour, who moves in with a British family

Youssef Kerkour of HOME. Courtesy of Channel4

Moroccan actor Youssef Kerkour says it is a "tremendous honour" to receive his first Bafta nomination for his role playing a Syrian refugee.

The 2020 Bafta nominations were announced on Thursday morning, after being delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Kerkour was nominated for Best Male Comedy Performance for his role as Sami Ibrahim in Home.

Written and created by English actor and writer Rufus Jones, Home follows the story of a Syrian asylum seeker, played by Kerkour, who moves in with a middle-class English family in Dorking, south of London, after they find him hiding in the boot of their car upon their return from a family vacation in France.

When asked what the show was about in an interview with Channel 4, Kerkour said: What I always tell people is 'Just think of Paddington, but instead of a cuddly bear, it’s a big cuddly Syrian refugee'."

Kerkour grew up in Rabat, Morroco and attended the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts in London, where he currently lives.

Jones first wrote the series in 2015 when the anti-immigration rhetoric in the UK had started to escalate. He sought out the advice of Hassan Akkad, a former teacher and current refugee rights activist, who fled Syria in 2015, to ensure the series was as authentic as possible. Akkad then came onboard as an advisor, and was present on set, even helping Kerkour perfect his Damascus accent.

"When I watched the pilot Sami’s accent, despite not being that important because it’s in Arabic and ninety nine percent of the audience are going to be English speaking, sounded really Moroccan. So I helped the Arab speaking cast with their accents," Akkad said, in another interview with Channel 4.

In a tweet acknowledging the nomination, Kerkour said it was "a tremendous honour to be nominated in such stellar company", before paying tribute to Jones.

"There is a name missing IMO [in my opinion]. That name is Rufus Jones. His writing will give you nominations."

Chernobyl leads the pack for this year's Bafta awards, with the HBO original scoring 14 nominations, including best drama mini-series.

It secured double the nominations than the next best-performing show, Netflix drama The Crown, which has seven nominations. Phoebe Waller-Bridge's Fleabag and Japanese thriller Giri/Haji have six nominations each, while His Dark Materials and The Virtues have five, and Killing EveSex Education and Top Boy have four

The winners of the 2020 Baftas will be revealed on Friday, July 17.