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Meera Syal and Sanjeev Bhaskar in conversation with Linda Williams and Mark Kermode

On 16 March 2022, we were proud to present a Creative Dialogue between writers and comedians Meera Syal CBE FRSL and Sanjeev Bhaskar OBE in conversation with Prof. Linda Williams, Professor of Film Studies at University of Exeter, and Mark Kermode, film critic and musician. 


Meera Syal CBE FRSL

Meera Syal CBE is a multi-Emmy Award-winning British actress, comedian, and writer. Born in Wolverhampton, Syal began her multifaceted career in theatre with roles spanning renowned productions, including the Royal Shakespeare Company's "Much Ado About Nothing," David Hares "Behind The Beautiful Forevers,” (NT) Kenneth Branagh’s production of "Romeo and Juliet,” (Garrick Theatre) and Jeremy Herrin’s West End transfer of "Noises Off." She also starred as Shirley in “Shirley Valentine” (Menier Chocolate Factor y and Trafalgar Studios West End), receiving the Whats On Stage Award for Best Actress.

Her television credits as a writer/performer, include the multi award-winning comedy series "Goodness Gracious Me" and "The Kumars at Number 42," for which she received a BAFTA nomination. Her additional television credits include "The Split, "Broadchurch," “Back To Life” and Sky’s “Code 404”. She will next be seen in the upcoming new Amazon series, "The Devil’s Hour" and will also lead the new AppleTV show “Roar”, an anthology series based on a short story collection of the same name by Cecelia Ahern – out next year. She was also be joining Amazon fantasy series “The Wheel of Time” as a series regular for series 2 .

On the big screen, her film credits include "Yesterday," "The Nutcracker and the Four Realms," "Paddington 2,”,"Doctor Strange," "Beautiful Thing," "Absolutely Anything," and “Alice Through the Looking Glass”. More recently, she has just been seen in Disney Channel Original movie “SPIN” and will also soon be seen in indie movie “The Almond and the Seahorse”.

Syal's first novel, “Anita And Me”, won the Betty Trask Award and is the first novel by a British Asian writer to be included on the national school's curriculum. She has written two other critically acclaimed novels, “Life Isn't All Ha Ha Hee Hee” and “The House Of Hidden Mothers”. Meera holds honorary doctorates at the University of Manchester, the University of Birmingham and SOAS, and was also previously a Visiting Professor for Theatre at St Catherine’s, Oxford University.

Her credits as a screenwriter include the popular films "Bhaji On The Beach," "Anita And Me" and "My Sister Wife," for which she won two Asian Film Awards (AFA), for her screenplay and performance. Meera has also been a recipient of the Women In Film And Television Award for Creative Innovation.

Sanjeev Bhaskar OBE

Sanjeev Bhaskar is an actor, writer, and presenter.  He first came to notice in the ground-breaking television comedy sketch show “Goodness Gracious Me” and the Emmy award winning “The Kumars at Number 42”, (Both BBC) and both of which he wrote and acted in.

He’s also appeared in “The Indian Doctor” (BBC) and is about to start filming the fifth series of the drama “Unforgotten” (ITV). His book “India with Sanjeev Bhaskar”, based on his BBC documentary series of the same name was a Sunday Times bestseller. He has appeared on the West End stage in “ART” and as King Arthur in the Monty Python musical “SPAMALOT”.

Movie credits include “Notting Hill”, “Arthur Christmas”, “The Zero Theorem”, “Paddington 2” and “Yesterday”. Along with The Kumars and Gareth Gates, he had a number 1 pop success with “Spirit in the Sky” for Comic Relief in 2003. Sanjeev is also the current chancellor of the University of Sussex. His personal claim to fame is adding the word ‘chuddies’ to the OED.

Twitter and Instagram:
Sanjeev Bhaskar @TVSanjeev

Linda Williams

Linda Ruth Williams is a Professor of Film in the Department of English and Film at the University of Exeter. She has written and edited several books and teaches British and American cinema with a focus on gender and contemporary industries. She is part of the major AHRC funded research project, Calling the Shots: Women and Contemporary Film Culture in the UK, 2000-2015, investigating the work of women in the UK film and tv industries this century.

Mark Kermode

Outspoken, opinionated and never lost for words, Mark Kermode is the UK's leading film critic. He is Chief Film Critic for the Observer and on the BBC News Channel Film Review; he hosts his own podcast Kermode On Film and has a soundtrack movie soundtrack show on Scala radio. He co-hosts Kermode & Mayo's Film Review on BBC Radio 5 Live, presents Mark Kermode's Secrets of Cinema on BBC2 and a has a monthly live show at the BFI Southbank, Mark Kermode Live in 3D. 

Hailed by Stephen Fry as 'the finest film critic in Britain' he is the author of several books about film, most recently his memoir How Does It Feel? A Life of Musical Misadventures. He plays double-bass and harmonica in the Dodge Brothers, the award-winning skiffle-and-blues band who also accompany silent movies with Neil Brand. He holds two Sony Awards for his radio programmes, and the Dodge Brothers album The Sun Set was voted Blues Album of the Year 2013 by the roots music magazine Spiral Earth. He also co-hosts the Shetland Film Festival Screenplay with Linda Ruth Williams.