Meera Syal is a woman of many talents. A successful writer and actress, she has written and starred in a wide range of television, radio and theatre productions. Meera co-wrote and starred in the first Asian comedy sketch show to be broadcast on the BBC, ‘Goodness Gracious Me’, first heard on Radio 4.
Its popularity thrust the talents of the team into the public eye, with fresh, innovative comedy appealing to both mainstream and Asian audiences, winning ‘Best Comedy Series’ at the 1998 British Comedy Awards.
Meera is very proud of her Indian roots and was aware of her racial difference from an early age. At school, Meera was not a victim of racism, but was picked on because she was ‘mouthy’. “I’d grown up with the lads in the yard, I’d hit anyone if they called me names.”
At home she lived in a ‘little India’ – a world preserved by her parents. From a young age Meera wanted to do something creative but didn’t feel that she could. Her parents wanted her to become a doctor. When she told them at 15, that she didn’t want a career in medicine, her parents accepted it.
She studied English and Drama at Manchester University. She did very well there, and got a double first. She didn’t do much acting at university, “I wasn’t picked for the good parts.” So Meera decided to write a play for herself, ‘One of Us’, scripted by her friend Jacqui Shapiro. The story was about a young Asian girl who runs away from home because she wants to be an actress.
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Matthew Willetts MA is the Director of Comicus who has over 35 years experience in television, film, theatre, and comedy club/cabaret entertainment, working as a performer, screenwriter, producer and agent. He lectured at Southampton Solent University in Comedy, Screenwriting, Television, Theatre & Radio. Matthew can sometimes be seen and heard on TV & Radio and often quoted in the national press and media publications. As well as speaking regularly at festivals and industry conferences, he has been a judge at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Montreux Television Festival.
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