9 episodes

A strange letter appears on a city councillor’s desk in Birmingham, England, laying out an elaborate plot by Islamic extremists to infiltrate the city’s schools. The plot has a code name: Operation Trojan Horse. The story soon explodes in the news and kicks off a national panic. By the time it all dies down, the government has launched multiple investigations, beefed up the country’s counterterrorism policy, revamped schools and banned people from education for the rest of their lives.

To Hamza Syed, who is watching the scandal unfold in his city, the whole thing seemed … off. Because through all the official inquiries and heated speeches in Parliament, no one has ever bothered to answer a basic question: Who wrote the letter? And why? The night before Hamza is to start journalism school, he has a chance meeting in Birmingham with the reporter Brian Reed, the host of the hit podcast S-Town. Together they team up to investigate: Who wrote the Trojan Horse letter? They quickly discover that it’s a question people in power do not want them asking.

From Serial Productions and The New York Times comes The Trojan Horse Affair: a mystery in eight parts.

The Trojan Horse Affair Serial

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.7 • 87 Ratings

A strange letter appears on a city councillor’s desk in Birmingham, England, laying out an elaborate plot by Islamic extremists to infiltrate the city’s schools. The plot has a code name: Operation Trojan Horse. The story soon explodes in the news and kicks off a national panic. By the time it all dies down, the government has launched multiple investigations, beefed up the country’s counterterrorism policy, revamped schools and banned people from education for the rest of their lives.

To Hamza Syed, who is watching the scandal unfold in his city, the whole thing seemed … off. Because through all the official inquiries and heated speeches in Parliament, no one has ever bothered to answer a basic question: Who wrote the letter? And why? The night before Hamza is to start journalism school, he has a chance meeting in Birmingham with the reporter Brian Reed, the host of the hit podcast S-Town. Together they team up to investigate: Who wrote the Trojan Horse letter? They quickly discover that it’s a question people in power do not want them asking.

From Serial Productions and The New York Times comes The Trojan Horse Affair: a mystery in eight parts.

    Part 1: The Letter in the Brown Paper Envelope

    Part 1: The Letter in the Brown Paper Envelope

    A strange letter appears outlining a plot by Islamic extremists to infiltrate Birmingham schools. Hamza and Brian visit the supposed mastermind of the plot, and he tells them he did take over a bunch of schools – just not for the reasons in the letter.

    • 59 min
    Part 2: The Case of the Four Resignations

    Part 2: The Case of the Four Resignations

    Hamza and Brian think the source of the Trojan Horse letter might be hiding in plain sight. After learning about the petty personnel dispute that probably gave rise to the letter, they’re even more bewildered about how it ever could have been taken seriously.

    • 53 min
    Part 3: Sir Albert and the Missing “H”

    Part 3: Sir Albert and the Missing “H”

    In a state of surprise, Hamza and Brian leave a meeting with the man the Trojan Horse letter was first sent to. And they learn about an internal investigation report that local officials have kept hidden, but which they think could contain a bombshell.

    • 38 min
    Part 4: The Meeting and the Mole

    Part 4: The Meeting and the Mole

    A series of frustrating interviews with Birmingham politicians leaves Brian and Hamza wondering if crucial information about the Trojan Horse letter was kept from officials in London. Then one rainy Friday afternoon, Brian hears back from a government source who wants to meet right away.

    • 45 min
    Part 5: A Study in Scarlett

    Part 5: A Study in Scarlett

    Hamza and Brian learn that the Trojan Horse letter wasn’t the only unsigned letter alleging an extremist operation was afoot in Birmingham. An interview with a couple who lodged complaints against their school starts out cordially, but six hours later, the atmosphere is so tense that not even an offer of tea can smooth things over. And Hamza stops pretending he’s not angry about what he’s hearing.

    • 1 hr
    Part 6: Cucumbers and Cooker Bombs

    Part 6: Cucumbers and Cooker Bombs

    Hamza takes a long, hard look at what the government found when it investigated more than 20 majority-Muslim schools in Birmingham. And our two reporters have a confrontation – with each other.

    • 1 hr 4 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
87 Ratings

87 Ratings

goober and the ghost chasers ,

Unbelievable Story, Great Investigation

Two different journalists, one fascinating trip down the rabbit hole of this letter and the story around it. The rampant duplicity of the Birmingham City Council, the Police, Michael halfwit Gove and his buddy Witchfinder Clarke - all taken in by this letter and, along the way by an assortment of people and organisations.
Mind boggling in every episode and the fact that the police carried out dawn raids to arrest teacher training assistants and take away their electronics you’d think would be ludicrous in a novel, not actually something they’d do.
Everyone agreed this letter was a fake, but surprising how no-one involved didn’t see any inconstancy in referencing it in court or in the House of Commons, and in the Council.
It’s patently obvious who wrote the letter, forged the resignations got the Council to back down then woo’d the police. You seriously couldn’t make this up.
The real story though is the suspicion of Muslims that underpins everything that happened and those poor people who lost their jobs as a result of this fantasy.
Two great hosts and their interaction is pivotal in making this all come to life.
Another smash by Serial.

Christinafog ,

Riveting!

I really enjoyed this series. It was very well developed and took me through the story step by step. It evoked such feelings in me - frustration, empathy, compassion and anger. I am left with the opportunity to draw my own conclusions and I think that was the only honourable position for the journalists to leave me in. I conclude that the person who wrote the Trojan horse letter (I have a clear idea of who that was), was a very dangerous, destructive and duplicitous person, who would stop at nothing to achieve her goals. I can understand the feelings of Hanza that being a journalist may simply not be worth it given the prejudice that he faces every day. However, hearing this story and being exposed to journey that it too him in, brought these everyday struggles to life for me - and helped me to be a witness. Excellent work!

Aoifers!! ,

Brilliant podcast

Loved every minute!!

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