Great news for British comedy fans! The ‘Goodness Gracious Me’ cast are preparing to come together for a grand reunion, marking the 25th anniversary of this popular 90s/2000s sitcom. In an exciting development that’s got fans and critics buzzing, the UK’s leading festival of British South Asian Culture has announced this special get-together, due later this year, amid rumours of a possible TV comeback.
Kulvinder Ghir, Nina Wadia, and the show’s first writer, Sanjeev Kholi and crew members will take centre stage at the reunion. The full line-up will be revealed in September, which will undoubtedly bring in a mass of people.
For those unfamiliar, ‘Goodness Gracious Me’ initially graced our radios on BBC Radio 4 from 1996 to 1998 before being televised on BBC Two from 1998 to 2001. It marked a significant cultural shift in British comedy and provided a platform for British South Asian actors to make their mark on mainstream media.
The reunion offers a great opportunity for reflection. Actors Kulvinder Ghir and Nina Wadia will be joined by original scriptwriter Sanjeev Kholi to discuss why the show was such a watershed moment for actors from the British South Asian community and how it has shaped the industry 25 years later.
The show was a pioneer in lampooning British Asian stereotypes, a point particularly encapsulated in some of my favourite sketches, like “Going for an English”, “Cheque Please”, and “The Coopers vs. The Kapoors”.
“Going for an English” brilliantly subverted the British tradition of “going for an Indian” by having a group of Indian friends go out for an “English”. The way they misbehave by ordering the blandest thing on the menu, mispronouncing the names of dishes, and getting rowdy, emulates some Brits’ notorious behaviour in Indian restaurants.
“Cheque Please” showcased a character who’d go to any length to pick up the bill at a restaurant, even faking heart attacks or other ailments. The sketch always ended in a full-on battle, with weapons in tow, over who gets to pay the bill.
“The Coopers vs. The Kapoors” was a hilarious depiction of a cultural clash within an Indian family desperately trying to prove their Britishness. They insist on being called ‘The Coopers’ instead of their actual name, ‘The Kapoors’, while misrepresenting or misunderstanding British stereotypes.
Post ‘Goodness Gracious Me’, the four leads, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Kulvinder Ghir, Meera Syal, and Nina Wadia, all soared in their careers, earning multiple awards for their performances. They include two Emmy Awards for ‘The Kumars at No. 42’, starring Sanjeev and Meera. Nina was also recognised for her acting in EastEnders, and Kulvinder went on to feature in several Hollywood films, including ‘Blinded by The Light’.
Tickets for the reunion of ‘Goodness Gracious Me’ as part of the 2023 DESIblitz Literature Festival are on sale today (Tuesday 18th July). Priced at £10, the event is set to take place at Birmingham’s B Music (formerly Symphony Hall).
This reunion allows us to bask in the nostalgia of this iconic show but also stirs up hope for its return to our TV screens. With whispers of a fourth series in the air, there’s no better time to relive the best of ‘Goodness Gracious Me’ and look forward to what the future might hold for this comedic gem.