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Syal, Meera (1962-)

Actor, Writer

Main image of Syal, Meera (1962-)

Born in Wolverhampton in 1962, Meera Syal's career began as a voiceover artist on the experimental documentary Handsworth Songs (d. John Akomfrah, 1986). This led to work in a number of productions ranging from factual series through to comedy and features. The author of two novels, Anita and Me (1996) and Life Isn't All Ha Ha Hee Hee (1999), she received an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours in 1997.

During the '80s, Syal presented Sunday East (BBC, 1986-87), a magazine programme targeted at the British South Asian population, and wrote scripts for comedy series Tandoori Nights (Channel Four, 1985-87). In 1987 she appeared in the feature film Sammy and Rosie Get Laid (d. Stephen Frears) and the BAFTA-winning series, The Little Princess (ITV).

Syal's career has flourished since the 1990s, with roles in drama series Kinsey (BBC, 1991-92), Holding On (BBC, 1997), Keeping Mum (BBC, 1997-98), In Deep (BBC, 2001-02) and Fat Friends (ITV, 2000-02). Her screenwriting credits include BBC thriller My Sister Wife (tx. 23/2/1992), A Nice Arrangement (Channel 4, tx. 6/2/1991) and the screen adaptation of her novel Anita and Me (d. Metin Hüseyin, 2002).

However, it is for comedy that Syal is best known. She honed her comedy acting skills on the sketch show The Real McCoy (BBC, 1992) and went on to write and act in award-winning shows Goodness Gracious Me (BBC, 1998-2000) and The Kumars at No.42 (BBC, 2001-).

Tejinder Jouhal

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Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Beautiful Thing (1996)Beautiful Thing (1996)

Low-key account of a tentative relationship between two teenage boys

Thumbnail image of Bhaji on the Beach (1993)Bhaji on the Beach (1993)

Intelligent, witty film about Asian women on a day-trip to Blackpool

Thumbnail image of Handsworth Songs (1986)Handsworth Songs (1986)

Experimental documentary exploring race and social unrest in '80s Britain

Thumbnail image of Nice Arrangement, A (1991)Nice Arrangement, A (1991)

Short film about an arranged marriage

Thumbnail image of Sammy and Rosie Get Laid (1987)Sammy and Rosie Get Laid (1987)

Controversial drama about racial and generational division in London

Thumbnail image of Sixth Happiness (1997)Sixth Happiness (1997)

Fictionalised autobiography of gay and disabled Bombay author Firdaus Kanga

Thumbnail image of Goodness Gracious Me (1998-2000)Goodness Gracious Me (1998-2000)

Groundbreaking Anglo-Asian comedy sketch series

Thumbnail image of Holding On (1997)Holding On (1997)

Epic, multi-stranded drama series set in late 1990s multicultural London

Thumbnail image of Kumars at No.42, The (2001-03)Kumars at No.42, The (2001-03)

Comedy chat-show featuring the Kumars interviewing genuine guests

Thumbnail image of My Sister Wife (1992)My Sister Wife (1992)

London-based drama about an arranged Pakistani marriage

Thumbnail image of Real McCoy, The (1991-94)Real McCoy, The (1991-94)

Groundbreaking comedy series from an all-black perspective

Thumbnail image of Tandoori Nights (1985-87)Tandoori Nights (1985-87)

Sitcom set in an Indian restaurant in East London's Brick Lane

Related collections

Thumbnail image of Asian-British CinemaAsian-British Cinema

From the margins to mainstream

Thumbnail image of Funny Women on TVFunny Women on TV

Comedy with a female slant

Thumbnail image of Race and the SitcomRace and the Sitcom

How the sitcom has tackled one of society's must difficult subjects

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