Sanjeev Bhaskar

Bhaskar in 2015
Born (1963-10-31) 31 October 1963 (age 60)[1]
Ealing, Middlesex, England
EducationUniversity of Hertfordshire
Occupation(s)Actor, comedian, television presenter
Years active1991–present
Notable workSee below
(m. 2005)

Sanjeev Bhaskar OBE (born 31 October 1963) is an English actor, comedian and television presenter. He is best known for his work in the BBC Two sketch comedy series Goodness Gracious Me and as the star of the sitcom The Kumars at No. 42. He also presented and starred in a documentary series called India with Sanjeev Bhaskar in which he travelled to India and visited his ancestral home in today's Pakistan. Bhaskar's more dramatic acting roles include the lead role of Dr Prem Sharma in The Indian Doctor and a main role as DI Sunny Khan in Unforgotten. Bhaskar has been the Chancellor of the University of Sussex since 2009.

In 2003, he was listed in The Observer as one of the 50 funniest acts in British comedy.[2] In 2006, Bhaskar was appointed an OBE.

Early life

Bhaskar was born on 31 October 1963 in Ealing, London to Inderjit and Janak Bhaskar, who came to the UK after the partition of India, and grew up living above the family launderette[3][4] in Heston, Hounslow, Middlesex.[5] He was raised in Hinduism.[6]

He earned a degree in marketing from Hatfield Polytechnic before landing a job as a marketing executive at IBM.[7]


Bhaskar soon realised that he preferred comedy to marketing and joined forces with an old college friend, Nitin Sawhney, to start a musical comedy double act called "The Secret Asians"[8] which they first performed in 1996 at the now-defunct Tom Allen Arts Centre in East London. This performance was featured on a BBC magazine show called Reportage. They performed extensively also at the Watermans Arts Centre with numerous other acts at a regular Asian comedy night called "One Nation Under a Groove...Innit". Their real break came when they were performing a show at the Oval House venue in South London where, after a strong review in Time Out magazine by journalist and playwright Bonnie Greer, they were approached by Anil Gupta, the producer of what was to become the BBC sketch series Goodness Gracious Me.

Bhaskar has starred in a number of British-produced films including The Guru, Notting Hill (very briefly), and Anita and Me. He also had a cameo as a shop owner in Yash Raj Films' production Jhoom Barabar Jhoom. He had a major role in the 2019 film,Yesterday, in which he and his wife Meera Syal played a married couple.

Bhaskar, the Kumars and Gareth Gates collectively released the official single for Comic Relief in 2003, 'Spirit in the Sky', which spent three weeks at the top of the UK Singles chart and was the second highest selling single of the year. In 2008 Bhaskar made his musical theatre debut as King Arthur in Spamalot at London's Palace Theatre. In October 2008 he was featured on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs.

He appeared as a guest on the BBC's Top Gear in 2003, setting a time of 1:51.0 around a wet Top Gear test track in a Suzuki Liana, placing him 32nd on the original leader board. In March 2010 he featured on the BBC Radio 4 comedy show I've Never Seen Star Wars. On 23 July 2010 he was guest on the BBC comedy panel game Would I Lie To You?

As part of the BBC's series of programmes on the 60th anniversary of the independence of India and Pakistan, he filmed a BBC documentary series India with Sanjeev Bhaskar with director Deep Sehgal which was broadcast in August 2007.[9] According to the BBC it included "an emotional journey" to his father's ancestral home which is now in Pakistan. His first book India with Sanjeev Bhaskar, based on the documentary series, became a Sunday Times bestseller in 2007. He also featured in a Channel 4 documentary series called The House That Made Me. This show, produced by Nutopia in 2010, recreated his childhood home and introduced him to the characters of his youth.

He wrote and starred in the ITV sitcom Mumbai Calling[10] and the UK tour of the hit American improv show Totally Looped.[11]

On 31 October 2014, Bhaskar hosted Kermode and Mayo's Film Review, standing in for Simon Mayo on the BBC's flagship film show. He also played the lead character in the online animation Rajesh Finesse in 2014.[12]

In 2005, Bhaskar was awarded the Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the New Year Honours List. On 23 February 2009 he was appointed chancellor of the University of Sussex, and he was formally installed at the university's summer graduation ceremony on 22 July 2009.[13] On 26 July 2019 Bhaskar was awarded an honorary doctorate by the university in recognition of his ten years in post as chancellor.

In April 2015, he was given the Outstanding Achievement in Television award at The Asian Awards.[14]

In January 2021, Bhaskar was cast in the Netflix adaptation of The Sandman.[15]

In 2022, Bhaskar appeared in the title role in a television series based on the Inspector Singh novels.[16]

Personal life

In January 2005, Bhaskar married comedian Meera Syal in Lichfield, Staffordshire.[17][18] They have a son, Shaan, who was born at the Portland Hospital on 2 December 2005.

In February 2009, Bhaskar and other entertainers wrote an open letter to The Times protesting against the trial of leaders of the Baháʼí Faith then being held in Iran.[19]


Before the 2010 general election Bhaskar was one of 48 celebrities who signed a letter warning against Conservative Party policy towards the BBC.[20]



Year Title Role Notes
1996 Zoo Rush 2: Destination New York Ravi the Indian cobra (voice)
1998 The Dance of Shiva Sergeant Bakshi Short Film
1999 Notting Hill Loud Man in Restaurant
2001 The Mystic Masseur Beharry
Inferno Jaz Short Film
2002 Anita and Me Mr Kumar
The Guru Rasphal the Cook
2006 Scoop Poker Players Credited as Sanjeev Bhasker
2007 Jhoom Barabar Jhoom Shopkeeper
2010 It's a Wonderful Afterlife Mr Bhatti the Curry Man
Not the Messiah: He's a Very Naughty Boy Mountie
Jackboots on Whitehall Rupee/Old Gil/King Voice Only
London Boulevard Sanji Raju
2011 The Itch of the Golden Nit Ten Heart Hero (voice) Short film
Arthur Christmas Lead Elf Voice Only
Lazy Uncle Dad Short film
2013 The Zero Theorem Doctor 1
2015 Absolutely Anything Ray
2016 Thunderbirds 1965 Himself Short Film
2017 And The Winner Isn't Himself Documentary film
Paddington 2 Dr Jafri
2019 Yesterday Jed Malik
2019 Horrible Histories: The Movie - Rotten Romans Mr. Felix
2020 Dragon Rider Mad Doc Voice role
2023 The Flash David Singh [21]
Denotes works that have not yet been released


Year Title Role Notes
1991 The Real McCoy Various Roles Unknown episodes
1995 Porkpie Sanjay Episode: "And Lead us not into Temptation"
1996 Bollywood or Bust Himself (Host)
1997 Captain Butler Adeel 6 episodes
1997 We Know Where You Live Various Characters 12 episodes
1998 Jonathan Creek Doctor Episode: "Black Canary"
1998 Light Lunch Himself Episode: "Goodness Gracious What a Great Show"
1998–2015 Goodness Gracious Me Various 21 episodes
1998 Keeping Mum Ahmed Episodes: "The Card Game" and "The Morning After"
1999–2001 Small Potatoes Rick Roy 13 episodes
2001 We Know Where You Live Television film
2001–2006 The Kumars at No. 42 Sanjeev Kumar Lead role
53 episodes
2002 Dalziel and Pascoe Graham Shah Episode: "Mens Sana"
2005 Life Isn't All Ha Ha Hee Hee Akaash 3 episodes
2005 Chopratown Vik Chopra Television film
2005–2008 The New Paul O'Grady Show Himself 2 episodes
2005 Angell's Hell John Angell Television film
2006 The Children's Party at the Palace Robin Hood Television special
2007–2008 Mumbai Calling Kenny Gupta 8 episodes
2009 Natural World Narrator Documentary series
Episode: "Man-eating Tigers of the Sundarbans"
2010 Grandpa In My Pocket Rodger Splodger Episode: "Great Aunt Loretta's Not-So-Great Plan"
2010–2013 The Indian Doctor Prem Sharma 15 episodes
2012 Silent Witness Abdul Aziz Episode: "And Then I Fell in Love"
2014 Midsomer Murders Armand Stone Episode: "The Killings of Copenhagen"
The Kumars Sanjeev Kumar 6 episodes
Doctor Who Colonel Ahmed Episode: "Death in Heaven"
2015 Drunk History Robert Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell Episode 1.8
Bollywood and Beyond: A Century of Indian Cinema Himself (presenter) Television film
Horrible Histories Various characters Episode: "Naughty Napoleon Special", "Gorgeous George III", "Tricky Queen Vicky", "Wily Winston Churchill"
2015–present Unforgotten DI Sunil "Sunny" Khan
2016 Thunderbirds Are Go Ethan Sullivan (voice) Episode: "City Under the Sea"
2017 Horrible Histories Singing Greek God Episode: "Monstrous Musicians"
2017–2019 Porters Mr Pradeep 7 episodes
2018–2020 Thomas & Friends Shankar (voice) UK & US versions
2019 Icons: The Greatest Person of the 20th Century Category presenter ("Advocate") 2 episodes, activists category and live final
Red Nose Bodyguard Interviewer Red Nose Day 2019 special
Good Omens Giles Baddicombe Episode: "The Very Last Day of the Rest of Their Lives"
The Switch Host 20 episodes
2020–present Sandylands Les Vegas Television miniseries
2021–present Secrets of the Transport Museum Narrator Documentary series[22]
2022 The Sandman Cain Episode: "Imperfect Hosts"
TBA Inspector Singh Investigates Inspector Singh [23]




See also


  1. ^ "IccQuery". Researcha.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ "The A–Z of Laughter (Part One)". The Observer. London, UK. 7 December 2003. Archived from the original on 3 November 2007. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
  3. ^ Padman, Tony (9 October 2015). "Sanjeev Bhaskar: My family values". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 17 June 2020. Retrieved 13 June 2020.
  4. ^ "Sanjeev Bhaskar: 'I have issues with inheritance tax. it's odd that you get taxed for dying'". The Daily Telegraph. 14 May 2013. Archived from the original on 27 March 2019. Retrieved 13 June 2020.
  5. ^ Whitney, Interview by Hilary. "Time and place: Sanjeev Bhaskar | The Sunday Times". The Times.
  6. ^ Graff, Vincent (19 August 2007). "Spam curry, chips - and our beautiful launderette". The Observer. Retrieved 29 October 2021.
  7. ^ Lacey, Hester (2 May 2014). "The Inventory: Sanjeev Bhaskar". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 16 July 2019. Retrieved 13 June 2020.
  8. ^ "Desert Island Discs – Nitin Sawhney, musician, producer, composer". BBC Sounds. 18:40 minutes in. Archived from the original on 11 October 2020. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  9. ^ "India & Pakistan 60th Anniversary of Independence". BBC. Archived from the original on 21 August 2007.
  10. ^ "Goodness gracious Ni! – Sanjeev Bhaskar interview". The Scotsman. 30 June 2008. Archived from the original on 13 June 2020. Retrieved 13 June 2020.
  11. ^ "Why comedians are dubbing Hollywood". The Independent. 3 February 2009. Archived from the original on 13 June 2020. Retrieved 13 June 2020.
  12. ^ Campelli, Matthew (16 May 2014). "Sanjeev Bhaskar fronts Wildseed pilot". Broadcast. Archived from the original on 6 January 2018. Retrieved 13 June 2020.
  13. ^ "Sanjeev Bhaskar is the new Chancellor of the University of Sussex". University of Sussex. 23 February 2009. Archived from the original on 27 February 2009. Retrieved 24 February 2009.
  14. ^ Wareing, Charlotte (17 April 2015). "Asian Awards 2015: All the winners from the star-studded bash". Daily Mirror. Archived from the original on 4 July 2018. Retrieved 13 June 2020.
  15. ^ Neil Gaiman’s ‘The Sandman’ Casts Tom Sturridge, Gwendoline Christie, Vivienne Acheampong, Boyd Holbrook, Charles Dance, Asim Chaudhry And Sanjeev Bhaskar
  16. ^ "BritBox International Signs Sanjeev Bhaskar for Drama Series 'Inspector Singh Investigates', Acquires Richard Harris and Peter O'Toole Docs". 7 November 2022.
  17. ^ "Family wedding for Kumars stars". BBC News. 25 January 2005. Archived from the original on 9 June 2020. Retrieved 23 August 2013.
  18. ^ Scott, Paul (25 January 2005). "Secret wedding for The Kumars". London Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 31 December 2013. Retrieved 23 August 2013.
  19. ^ "Stand up for Iran's Baha'is – Voices from the arts call for the imprisoned Baha'i leaders in Iran to receive a fair trial". The Times. London, UK. 26 February 2009. Archived from the original on 14 August 2011. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
  20. ^ "General Election 2010: leading stars oppose Tory BBC plans". The Daily Telegraph. London. 25 April 2010. Archived from the original on 30 April 2010. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
  21. ^ Cremona, Patrick (15 June 2023). "Meet the cast of The Flash: all the main stars and cameos". Radio Times. Retrieved 16 June 2023.
  22. ^ "Secrets of the Transport Museums". Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  23. ^ "BritBox International Signs Sanjeev Bhaskar for Drama Series 'Inspector Singh Investigates', Acquires Richard Harris and Peter O'Toole Docs". 7 November 2022.