The BAFTA Fellowship is the highest accolade bestowed by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) upon an individual in recognition of an outstanding and exceptional contribution to film, games or television and at this year’s awards on May 14 it will be conferred on Meera Syal CBE.
Born in Wolverhampton in the West Midlands and educated at Manchester University where she read English and Drama, Meera Syal’s career began at the Royal Court. 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’. In 1996, the iconic British Indian artist famously joined the cast and writing team of acclaimed 90s radio and television show ‘Goodness Gracious Me’ – alongside off-screen husband Sanjeev Bhaskar, before going on to star in Emmy Award winning television series ‘The Kumars at No. 42’ as grandmother “Ammi”, which earned her a BAFTA nomination for her role as well as gaining recognition from the late Queen Elizabeth II – who was quoted telling former BBC Radio 2 editor Phil Jones, in 2001, that it was her favourite TV show.
The award-winning and nationally beloved actor, screenwriter and novelist has brought her distinctive voice to the UK’s creative arts across multiple artistic genres over four decades, with over 140 credits and counting, said BAFTA as it announced her Fellowship to be presented at the glittering award ceremony at Royal Festival Hall in London next weekend.
As part of the Fellowship, Syal 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.
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Syal said: “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.
“And I am grateful for the chance to pay forward the opportunities and experiences I have been lucky enough to have over my career.”
Fellows previously honoured for their work in television include Sir Billy Connolly, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders, Jon Snow, Sir Bruce Forsyth, Joanna Lumley, Melvyn Bragg, Michael Palin, Sir Trevor MacDonald, Sir David Attenborough, Dame Julie Walters and Kate Adie.
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Jane Millichip, CEO at BAFTA, noted: “Meera Syal has made an extraordinary impact on the screen and literary arts. As an actor and writer, she is an exceptional storyteller with enormous range, which means she is loved by peers and the public as much as she is critically acclaimed. At BAFTA, we very much look forward to working with Meera over the next year on her mentoring scheme. We couldn’t be more delighted to present her the BAFTA Fellowship and celebrate her next month at our BAFTA Television Awards with P&O Cruises.”
*Info: BAFTA Award Nominations