Egyptian journalist-cum-actor Ebrahim Eisa (seated) appeared on the set of the TV comedy "The Land of Hypocrisy". Image Credit: Facebook photo

Cairo: For the first time in the long history of the Egyptian entertainment industry, there will be two versions of one television show.

Producers of an Egyptian TV comedy, scheduled to be broadcast later this month, have said they will make a special version of their show for Saudi television after officials there objected to the appearance of an anti-Saudi writer-cum-actor in the show.

Well-known Egyptian journalist Ebrahim Eisa, an outspoken critic of Saudi policies in his articles, performs in “Ard Al Nafaq” (The Land of Hypocrisy”, a serial starring celebrated comedian Mohammad Henedy.

Eisa has completed shooting his role in the comedy due to be shown in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan when viewing rates usually peak.

The show’s producer Jamal Al Adly said that the Saudi television informed him that they will cut the scenes in which Eisa appears as a condition for showing the serial.

“This has prompted me to decide to make a special version for the Saudi television with another actor,” Al Adl told private Egyptian online newspaper Masrawy.

“Removing Ebrahim’s role will disrupt the plot of the serial,” he added.

“The original version, featuring Ebrahim, will be shown in other Arab countries,” Al Adl said.

Egyptian actor Hesham Selim is nominated to play Eisa’s role in the Saudi version.

“The Land of Hypocrisy” is adapted from a famous Egyptian comedy film of the same name produced in 1968.

The serial is one of more than 30 TV soap operas especially produced to be shown during this Ramadan, which is expected to begin on May 17.

Last month, head of the state Saudi Broadcasting Corporation Dawood Shirian told official television that they had cancelled an agreement to show a serial after finding out that it features a “person who defamed our country”. Shirian did not name the work or the person.

“The person, who defamed the kingdom, will not appear on our [TV] channels,” he added in a statement widely interpreted as referring to Eisa.

Traditionally, Ramadan is a peak season in the Arab world for TV entertainment including big-name soaps.

At least four other Egyptian serials will be shown on Saudi state television this Ramadan.