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Last Updated: Saturday, 31 December 2005, 00:01 GMT
Goodness Gracious: Bhaskar's success
Sanjeev Bhaskar on The Kumars at No 42
Bhaskar plays chat show host Sanjeev on The Kumars at No 42
Actor and comedian Sanjeev Bhaskar, who has been made an OBE in the New Year's Honours, first came to public attention with the BBC Radio 4 sketch show Goodness Gracious Me in 1996.

Success came relatively late for 41-year-old Bhaskar, but his triumphant career was part of an explosion in cross-cultural comedy.

In the mid 90s the Essex-born marketing graduate was working for IBM and writing and performing alongside musician and friend Nitin Sawhney in his spare time.

His performance was spotted by Anil Gupta, the creator of Goodness Gracious Me, who asked Bhaskar to join the team working on a new idea for an Asian sketch show.

Nina Wadia, Kulvinder Ghir, Sanjeev Bhaskar and Meera Syal in Goodness Gracious Me: Back Where They Came From
Bhaskar returned to Goodness Gracious Me for a show in 2001

The show, which mocked British and Asian cultures and became famous for its "going for an English" sketch, proved a runaway hit, and by 1998, had crossed over to BBC Two.

With Kulvinder Ghir, Nina Wadia and Meera Syal completing the ensemble, it ran for three series and toured the UK, playing to sell-out audiences.

Bhaskar, by now a popular household name, followed up his success with solo venture The Kumars at No 42.

The spoof comedy, written by Bhaskar, stars the actor as Sanjeev Kumar.

His attempts to host and broadcast a celebrity chat show from his parents' house are regularly thwarted by his inquisitive family who sit next to the celebrity during interviews.

Bhaskar is joined in the studio by Indira Joshi, playing his mother Mahuri, and Vincent Ebrahim as his father Ashwin.

Sanjeev Bhaskar with Sir Cliff Richard
Sir Cliff Richard is among the stars to have featured on The Kumars

The role of his mischievous grandmother is taken by his Goodness Gracious Me co-star Meera Syal, with whom the actor has collaborated on a number of projects.

They also married in January 2005 and celebrated the end of 2005 with the birth of Bhaskar's first child, a son named Shaan.

Despite numerous rejections, the Kumars was eventually commissioned in 2001 and given a slot on BBC Two where it began attracting critical attention.

In 2002, it won best new TV comedy at the British Comedy Awards and picked up an International Emmy - paving the way for a US counterpart where the show was remade for the Fox TV network as The Ortegas.

The Kumars went on to win a further International Emmy in 2003 and three nominations at the Bafta TV awards, including best entertainment programme and best entertainment performance for both Bhaskar and Syal.

Meera Syal and Sanjeev Bhaskar
Bhaskar co-starred with wife Meera Syal on Life Isn't All Ha Ha Hee Hee

In the meantime, Bhaskar has forged a successful career in film.

Film roles include Ismail Merchant's Mystic Masseur, Hollywood comedy The Guru and Anita and Me, scripted by Syal.

Bhaskar also has a script-writing deal with the film studio Miramax.

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