Goodness Gracious Me - the BBC comedy that explored British-Asian culture - turns 20 this month.Alex Nelson, i Newspaper, 18th January 2018
We have another show that, unlike The Fast Show Special, did film all new sketches for the BBC Two anniversary as we welcomed back the brilliant Goodness Gracious Me. It felt to me as if writers and stars Nina Wadia, Meera Syal, Sanjeev Bhaskar and Kulvinder Ghir had something to prove as almost every sketch had some value to it. All of the favourite characters were back from Mr Everything is Indian who had his theories on Sherlock to the overbearing mother who claimed she could make an Apple Phone from an aubergine. An incredibly timely sketch saw the Kapoor/Coopers attempting to sign up for UKip before realising that they'd been recruited purely because they were immigrants. In line with the celebration of the channel's comedy output, the team also presented their own take on the 'Class Sketch' from The Frost Report. Rather than just being a jokes-only sketch show, Goodness Gracious Me always had much more to say about the way that the Asian population were treated in Britain. A sketch focusing on an Indian newspaper, brilliantly known as The Delhi Mail poked fun at the ludicrous nature of print journalism in this country. I'm glad that this sketch had the most time devoted to it as every joke and observation was cleverly executed to the point that I wondered why anybody would ever by The Daily Mail in the first place. Obviously not everything worked, I wasn't personally a fan of the group's take on Mary Poppins, but there was more than enough evidence here that the team are still at the top of their game. As the show finished with a brilliant spoof of Robin Thicke's 'Blurred Lines', I was crossing my fingers that this reunion special was acting as a pilot for a possible new series. Based on the evidence in this programme alone, Goodness Gracious Me is still funnier and cleverer than the majority of current sketch shows and I for one would welcome its return.The Custard TV, 1st June 2014
Sanjeev Bhaskar, Kulvinder Ghir, Meera Syal, Nina Wadia and "token white" Dave Lamb have lost none of their comedic talent since this sketch show last graced our screens in 2001. Shown as part of BBC Two's 50th anniversary celebrations, this one-off is a selection of new sketches featuring familiar characters, including the man who believes everything has its origins in India (Sherlock and pretty well every other TV detective from Poirot to Columbo) and oh-so-British social climber Mr Kapoor (this time hoping to stand as a Ukip candidate for Parliament).
Among the new routines is an Indian version of Mary Poppins, a clever dig at one of our more right-wing newspapers in The Delhi Mail and a remake of The Frost Report's class sketch that almost works. It's not exactly subtle humour but the simple concept of taking Asian stereotypes and turning them on their heads is as relevant as ever.Jane Rackham, Radio Times, 26th May 2014
Diversity in comedy - whether stand-up or sitcom - is taken for granted nowadays, but the first part of Meera Syal's Asian Comedy Story provided a reminder that racial stereotypes were a regular feature of popular mainstream entertainment only 30 or so years ago.
There are those who would argue that TV shows such as Mind Your Language and It Ain't Half Hot Mum were of their time, but Syal and her peers were left feeling that Asians were being laughed at, not laughed with.
The comedian, writer and actress may not have had anything particularly revelatory to say, but her reflections on how the British Asian comedy scene developed still made for entertaining and informative listening.
Of particular significance was the 1979 anti-racist uprising in London's Southall, which resulted in the Asian community having more of a voice, both politically and culturally. Gradually, opportunities arose for a new generation to offer their own style of multicultural satire. Indeed, Watermans Arts Centre in Brentford became something of a home for Asian comedy, as a host of artists, including Sanjeev Bhaskar and musician Nitin Sawhney, regularly performed there.
Bhaskar pointed out that the same ethos behind a lot of this comedy - to "let our politics inform our comedy, rather than our comedy inform our politics" - also inspired the sketch writing for the radio and TV versions of Goodness Gracious Me, featuring the talents of Syal, Bhaskar, Kulvinder Ghir and Nina Wadia. This old-fashioned variety show with an Asian spin was a big hit, attracting a mainstream audience who simply appreciated the project for being original and funny.
Like many television comedies past and present, Goodness Gracious Me began its journey on radio before making the move to TV. It was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1996 and, while some of the material might now seem out of date, a good deal of the writing stands the test of time.
Unfortunately, the same quality cannot be found in many of the current radio comedy shows that pop up on a weekly basis, penned by writers who seem to underestimate the skills required to create a decent sketch show.Lisa Martland, The Stage, 12th July 2012