Wednesday 24 January 2018

CBE 'huge honour' for actress Syal

Meera Syal with her husband Sanjeev Bhaskar at Buckingham Palace
Meera Syal with her husband Sanjeev Bhaskar at Buckingham Palace
Meera Syal and her husband Sanjeev Bhaskar after she was presented with her CBE medal at Buckingham Palace

Actress and writer Meera Syal, who has brought her distinctive Asian voice to Britain's creative arts, has described being made a CBE as a "huge honour".

The star has made the nation laugh in hit comedy series like Goodness Gracious Me and The Kumars At No 42, b ut she is also an established author with successful novels and screenplays to her name.

Speaking after receiving the honour from the Prince of Wales, she said: "I feel a bit stunned actually. You beaver away in the creative arts - it's so hit and miss - you go from one job to another, every job is different and you hope the work you do is reaching people."

Syal was joined at the Buckingham Palace investiture ceremony by her husband, actor Sanjeev Bhaskar ,who has appeared alongside her in The Kumars and Goodness Gracious Me.

He said: "The award is hugely deserved, I'd be in huge trouble if I said otherwise, and all the other recipients here today deserve to be recognised."

Speaking about his wife, he added: "I can't think of anyone else who has written screenplays, who has written for stage, written three novels and acts, is a mum and a wife - she's the talented one, puts me to shame."

Syal graduated in drama and English from Manchester University and found acting roles during the 1980s in TV series such as The Diary Of Adrian Mole and the film Sammy And Rosie Get Laid, as well as presenting the magazine show Sunday East for the British Asian community.

But it was in the following decade that her career took off, scripting the film Bhaji On the Beach and starring in the radio series of Goodness Gracious Me, which later transferred to TV, and in turn The Kumars.

She used her experiences growing up in the West Midlands for her first book Anita And Me, which was later adapted for the screen, and found further acclaim with her second book, Life Isn't All Ha Ha Hee Hee. Her third novel, The House Of Hidden Mothers, is published next month.

Her writing abilities have been given further vent scripting the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Bombay Dreams.

Syal had been appearing in the David Hare play Behind the Beautiful Forevers at the National Theatre in London which ended last night.

Asked which creative project she has been most proud of during her 30 year career she replied: "I finished a run at the National just last night so you tend to be in love with the thing you're just doing."

Looking back at her comedy success in the 1990s which showcased humour from the perspective of British Asians she said: "It wasn't just us, there was a whole generation of first generation born immigrants from lots of different cultures who were trying to find expression for their cultural identities.

"We were part of a flowering of a generation that were defining a new kind of British identity."

During the investiture ceremony Oscar-nominated screenwriter and novelist William Nicholson was awarded an OBE for his services to drama and literature.

The 67-year-old, who began his working life as a BBC film-maker, has scripted a succession of celebrated films including Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom and Les Miserables.

Nicholson realised he wanted to be an author from an early age and had written two unpublished novels before heading off to study English at Cambridge. He continued writing while working as a BBC documentary maker and after the publication of his first book, he moved into writing TV dramas.

Shadowlands, his work about the life of CS Lewis, was written for television then adapted for the London stage before transferring to Broadway.

Its later success as a film - earning him an Oscar nomination - opened the door to his work on movies such as First Knight, Elizabeth: The Golden Age And Grey Owl.

He was shortlisted for an Oscar for a second time as co-writer of Ridley Scott's film Gladiator.

The writer has also produced a series of novels including The Society Of Others and The Secret Intensity Of Everyday Life and his young adult book The Wind Singer, the first instalment of an admired trilogy, took the Blue Peter Book of the Year Award in 2001.

The writer said: "I'm very touched and a little bit surprised, these honour are really for people who have served the public and I'm a little bit embarrassed because I feel I haven't served the public."

Asked which project had produced better than expected results he replied: "Gladiator, it was such a brilliant film and such a struggle doing it, but my children's books I'm very proud of, I wrote a series of books beginning with The Wind Singer.

"I still meet grown-ups now who read them as kids and they know me from that which is lovely."

He said he is still working hard and a movie he scripted, Everest starring Keira Knightley and Jake Gyllenhaal, will be released later this year.

Press Association

Promoted Links

Style Newsletter

Stay on top of the latest fashion, beauty and celeb gossip in our Style newsletter.

Promoted Links

Also in this section