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The University of Southampton
The India Centre for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development

Fireside Chat: Meera Syal Event

Meera Syal
15 January 2021
Presented via Zoom

Event details

A fireside chat with a difference. Celebrating the inspirational lives of south Asians in the UK.

Friday 15 January 2021, 1.00 pm (GMT) via ZOOM

Register at: 

One of the UK’s national treasures will be revealing what makes her tick when she takes part in our inaugural Fireside Conversations series. 

The University of Southampton’s India Centre, in association with Asian Media Group, Eastern Eye, India Business Group and UKRI, are proud to invite you to join actress, performer and author, Meera Syal, in conversation with former BBC award-winning journalist, Professor Barnie Choudhury.

The event marks the official launch of The Pioneers Project, which focuses on researching the untold inspirational biographies of South Asian diaspora in Britain. 

“This is a unique project, which shows off the contribution south Asians have made to our way of life in the UK,” said Professor Jane Falkingham, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Southampton. “Meera embodies that achievement in spades, and I, for one, can’t wait to hear how her experiences have shaped British culture.” 

The Pioneers project will create a ‘living history resource’ aimed at narrating the life histories of British-Asians who have made Britain their home and contributed to its modern society particularly since the 1960s. 

“We’ve been thinking about how we can tell these stories for decades,” said Kalpesh Solanki, managing editor of the Asian Media Group (AMG). “Our publication, Eastern Eye, has been championing their careers for decades, but this project is something special. It will show what a difference people of south Asian heritage have made to this country of ours.” 

The Pioneers Project will dig deep into the why, what and how these exceptional people have made Britain what it is today. Be at the start of this incredible journey.


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About Meera Syal

Meera Syal is a renowned British comedian, actress and a writer whose achievements extend the boundaries of creativity in media and visual arts as a playwright, singer, journalist and producer.

She is co-creator of Goodness Gracious Me, with Sanjeev Bhaskar and Anil Gupta, one of the most popular English-language sketch comedies featured in BBC Radio 4 in 1996 and later televised in BBC Two from 1998 to 2001. She wrote the screenplay of her book Anita and Me and Bhaji on the Beach, both remain widely acknowledged British comedy feature films. Anita and Me was the winner of Betty Trask Award, and the book was later included in the School and University English curricula both in Britain and overseas. 

Popularly known as Sanjeev’s grandmother in The Kumars at No.42, Meera has emerged as one the widely acclaimed British Asian celebrity star both in UK and globally. Among notable feature films and television dramas include: Holby City, Horrible Histories, Doctor Who, The Jury, Alice through the Looking Glass, Paddington 2, Patrick, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, Nativity Rocks and recently released Danny Boyle’s romantic comedy film Yesterday.

In 2015, Meera was appointed Commander of the Order of British Empire (CBE) for services to drama and literature and prior to this Member of the Order of British Empire in 1997 for her outstanding contributions to the arts. In 2011, Meera was appointed visiting professor of contemporary theatre at St Catherine's College, Oxford. She received honorary degrees from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London and the University of Roehampton. In 2017, Meera was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Meera Syal was born in Wolverhampton to Punjabi parents who came to UK from New Delhi. She grew up in Essington, Staffordshire, attended Queen Mary's High School in Walsall and then did English and Drama at Manchester University, graduating with a Double First.


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