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, but 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.”
Meera Syal was honoured at Buckingham Palace (Ian West/PA)
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.”
Meera Syal with husband Sanjeev Bhaskar (Doug Peters/PA)
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.