The Trojan Horse Affair Investigative

Hosted By: Brian Reed and Hamza Syed
Produced By: Serial

The Trojan Horse Affair is a podcast from Serial Productions and The New York Times that investigates a 2014 scandal in Birmingham, England. In March of that year, a letter appeared on the desk of a city councillor, alleging that a group of Muslim extremists were plotting to take over the city’s schools. The letter, which was anonymous, was quickly dubbed “Operation Trojan Horse” and sparked a national panic.

Over the next few years, multiple investigations were launched, and a number of school leaders and teachers were suspended or removed from their positions. But as the reporting team behind The Trojan Horse Affair discovered, the story was not as clear-cut as it seemed.

The podcast tells the story of the scandal from multiple perspectives, interviewing parents, teachers, journalists, and politicians. It also examines the wider context of Islamophobia in Britain and the role that the media played in fueling the panic.

The Trojan Horse Affair Podcast Hosts:

Brian Reed is the host and co-creator of the podcast S-Town, a production of Serial and This American Life, which won a Peabody Award for being “a pioneering classic of the form.” Brian was also a senior producer at This American Life, where he edited, produced, and reported some of the program’s most ambitious stories. He has received the Dart Award for Reporting on Trauma, the Overseas Press Club Award, an Education Writers Association Award, and two Peabodies.

Hamza Syed joined Serial Productions in 2018 to report The Trojan Horse Affair. Hamza earned a master’s degree in investigative journalism from De Montfort University in Leicester, England, in 2019, where he was awarded the Channel 4 Prize for Investigative Journalism. Before becoming a reporter, Hamza was a medical doctor.

Praise from Listeners*:

  • In-Depth Storytelling: Reed and Syed take their time to tell the story, and they do a great job of explaining complex concepts in a way that is easy to understand.
  • Strong Interviews: The Trojan Horse Affair features interviews with a wide range of people, including parents, teachers, journalists, and politicians. These interviews are essential to understanding the story and the impact that it had on the people of Birmingham and appreciated by listeners.

Criticisms from Listeners*:

  • Too One-Sided: Some listeners have accused the podcast of presenting a one-sided view of the Trojan Horse Affair, and of downplaying the concerns of whistleblowers and others who raised alarms about the Islamist plot.
  • Inaccuracies: Listeners have also alleged that the podcast contains factual inaccuracies. For example, some have pointed out that the podcast claims that all of the whistleblowers in the Trojan Horse Affair were anonymous, when in fact this was not the case.

* The True Crime Connection teams aims to keep this as an unbiased search database. In order to do this, we curate what people love the most and the least about a podcast by analysing ApplePodcast reviews.

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Both show and individual episode descriptions for listings on the TCC website have been submitted directly from the podcast featured or found online. We do our best to make sure all information is accurate, however; if there are any corrections to be made, please let us know here.