Celebrating Britain's 101 Most Influential Asians 2022

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Meera Syal and Sanjeev Bhaskar


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NO ONE really knows what the Queen’s favourite TV programme is – but recently New Statesman columnist and BBC Radio 2 and sports broadcaster Phil Jones spilled the beans.

In late February 2022, just as he was about to hang up his BBC microphone, he decided to recount a conversation he had with the monarch back in 2001. He had been told that journalists could not under any circumstances except on their deathbed tell others about the conversations they had with the Queen.

Eschewing that principle because of his impending retirement from the BBC, Jones said that he was struggling of things to say and finally blurted to the Majesty: “What’s your favourite programme?

She answered: “The Kumars at No. 42”.

Jones said she was very familiar with the characters, especially Ummi the grandmother – played by Meera Syal and even recounted some of her one-liners.

Bhaskar reacting to Jones’ revelation said in a tweet: “I mean I couldn’t possibly comment.”

The BBC programme was essentially a comedy chat show which featured an Asian family living at No. 42 (Wembley in London) with Sanjeev Bhaskar, playing an alter ego character, also called Sanjeev. It ran between 2001-2005 and was briefly revived by Sky and broadcast as The Kumars at No. 42B.

Bhaskar says the Queen had spoken to him before and was aware of the show and its characters – but had imagined that she had simply been well-briefed. Now what would Ummi make of those briefs?

Syal is currently involved in the filming of The Almond and The Seahorse, based on a play by Kaite O’Reilly which looks at the effect of traumatic brain injury and what it can do, to not only the sufferer but the family who has to support and help them.

The film has several

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