London: Award-winning British-Indian playwright and actor Meera Syal will be presented with a BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) fellowship, the highest accolade bestowed upon an individual in recognition of an outstanding and exceptional contribution to film, games or television.
Syal, who starred in hit BBC comedies, ‘Goodness Gracious Me’ and ‘The Kumars at No 42’, will be honoured at the BAFTA Television Awards, which will take place on May 14 at the Royal Festival Hall.
“I am thrilled and honoured to be the recipient of the BAFTA Fellowship. I am particularly delighted that this year’s award is twinned with opportunities to mentor and support participants in BAFTA’s learning programme — where I hope to engage with many talented practitioners and continue working to make BAFTA a truly representative and celebratory place for all our creatives,” Syal said.
As part of the fellowship, she will work directly with the arts charity over the coming year to inspire and nurture aspiring creatives through BAFTA’s year-round learning, inclusion and talent programmes.
She will be seen in two new major series this autumn — ‘The Wheel of Time’ and ‘Mrs Siddhu Investigates’.
Alongside her MBE and CBE awards, Syal has brought her distinctive voice to the UK’s creative arts across multiple artistic genres over four decades, with more than 140 credits and counting. Born to Punjabi parents from New Delhi, Syal’s cross-cultural stories and performances have played an instrumental force in showcasing the positive representation of British-Asian stories and talent on screen, a BAFTA statement said.
Her work has scored multiple BAFTA nominations and wins, features on school and university syllabuses, and was said to be among Her Majesty the Queen’s favourite TV programmes.
Syal has also received the Women In Film and TV Award for Creative Innovation, honorary doctorates from SOAS, Manchester and Birmingham Universities and was the Cameron Mackintosh Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre at the Oxford University in 2012.
Born in Wolverhampton in the West Midlands and educated at Manchester University, Syal read English and Drama, gaining a Double First.
Her career began at the Royal Court, and alongside her many and continuing theatre roles, her talent saw her quickly graduate to screenwriting — scripting ‘Bhaji on the Beach’ in 1993 and ‘My Sister Wife’ in 1994 — as well as writing and performing in the pioneering comedy sketch-show ‘The Real McCoy’ (1991-1994).
Two of her novels have also been adapted for the screen — ‘Anita and Me’ (2002) and ‘Life Isn’t All Ha Ha Hee Hee’ (2005).
Syal has also since taken on roles in popular television series and programmes such as ‘Beautiful People’ (2008-2009), ‘Dr Who’ (2009), ‘Horrible Histories’ (2009), ‘Broadchurch’ (2015), ‘The Split’ (2018-2022), among others.
The BAFTA Television Awards with P&O Cruises will be hosted by comedians Rob Beckett and Romesh Ranganathan and will be broadcast on BBC One and iPlayer.