Iconic BBC comedy series is set for a return after 18 years away

Richard Bevan
Richard Bevan
5 Min Read

One of the BBC’s most cherished comedy series, “The Kumars at No. 42,” is returning after 18 years. However, this time, the Kumars are crossing the pond to the United States. The beloved sitcom, which originally graced our screens in 2001, captured hearts with its unique blend of scripted comedy, improv, and interview segments.

The news of the revival comes as a breath of fresh air for fans who fondly remember the show’s seven-season run, which ended in 2006. The American broadcaster Fox has taken the reins for this international reboot of the Kumars. The broadcasting giant will also bring a multi-camera ‘presentation’ instead of a traditional pilot. The filming is slated for March, with Elstree Studios to host the recording..

The original trio of stars—Sanjeev Bhaskar, Meera Syal, and Vincent Ebrahim—are reprising their iconic roles. Bhaskar is set to play aspiring broadcaster Sanjeev, Syal as the lovable grandmother Sushila/Ummi, and Ebrahim as the patriarch, Ashwin. Joining the ensemble is actress Shaheen Khan, who takes on the role of Sanjeev’s new stepmother, Rani.

“We’re thrilled to be working with Fox on this presentation and look forward to introducing our much-loved Kumars family to an American audience,” exclaimed Jimmy Mulville, managing director of Hat Trick Productions, the creative force behind the original series.

The popularity of the Kumars saw the show host numerous Christmas specials.

The reboot of The Kumars hopes to revive the magic of the original

The reboot, titled “Meet The Kumars,” marks a significant chapter in the show’s history. It promises to recapture the original’s magic, where the Kumars, a British Indian family, transformed their backyard into a TV studio to support Sanjeev’s hosting dreams, leading to hilariously awkward encounters with celebrity guests.

The journey down memory lane includes revisiting notable guests such as Westlife, Donny Osmond, and Boy George. The show’s unique format, blending scripted comedy with unscripted interviews, made it a standout success, winning two International Emmys during its initial run.

Interestingly, the Kumars had a brief flirtation with the American audience in 2003 with “The Ortegas,”. Unfortunately, this version that never made it to air. Fox is giving the format another shot, expressing confidence in the Kumars’ universal appeal.

Michael Thorn, Fox Entertainment’s president of scripted programming, sees “The Kumars” as a ‘unique family comedy. “I think the storytelling with this hybrid format is so unique, and it’s something that the original team, with Sanjeev, Meera and Hat Trick, they had a vision for how to do this show. What usually works is supporting the vision and allowing that vision to come through as specifically as strongly as possible as opposed to having someone else adapt their show because the only version that’s really resonated for people was the original. “

So our instinct was, rather than try to get someone to replicate their magic, go to the source and let this brilliant team do it themselves. They have a very simple and specific way to capture the original magic but also feel like it will play for a US domestic audience in a way that feels surprising and, hopefully, on-point for a Fox viewer.” Furthermore, he hopes it resonates with viewers in a way similar to the acclaimed series “Schitt’s Creek.”

Filming to take place at iconic British studios

Adding a cherry on top of this comedic cake, the pilot episode will be recorded in front of a live audience at BBC Elstree Studios on March 13th. This decision aligns with Fox’s belief in the enduring charm of the multi-camera format, a rarity in today’s television landscape.

The Kumars at No. 42 was more than just a sitcom; it was a cultural phenomenon. The hilarious ad-lib, the endearing characters, and unforgettable interviews contributed to its popularity.

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