Meera Syal CBE FRSL is an English comedian, writer, playwright, singer, journalist, producer and actress. She rose to prominence as one of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me and portraying Sanjeev’s grandmother, Ummi, in The Kumars at No. 42.
Meera Syal was born in Wolverhampton and grew up in Essington, Staffordshire, a mining village a few miles to the north. Her Punjab-born parents, Surinder Syal (father) and Surinder Uppal (mother), came to the United Kingdom from New Delhi. Her father was Khatri, and her mother was Jat. When she was young, the family moved to Bloxwich, north of Walsall.
This landscape, and the family’s status as the only Asian family in a small Midlands mining village of Essington, was later to form the backdrop to her novel (later filmed) Anita and Me, which Syal described in a 2003 BBC interview as semi-autobiographical. She attended Queen Mary’s High School in nearby Walsall and then studied English and Drama at Manchester University, graduating with a Double First.
Syal married journalist Shekhar Bhatia in 1989; they had a daughter together before divorcing in 2002. In January 2005, Syal married her frequent collaborator, Sanjeev Bhaskar, who plays her grandson in The Kumars at No. 42; the marriage ceremony took place in Lichfield registry office, Staffordshire. They have a son, born 2005