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Radio / Goodness Gracious Me

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The main cast. Left to right - Nina Wadia, Kulvinder Ghir, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Meera Syal
1998-2001 Sketch Comedy show performed by British Indians Meera Syal, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Kulvinder Ghir and Nina Wadia. Most sketches were self-parody of British Asians and Asian culture, the reaction of white British people to Asians, or Indian-styled spoofs of western TV shows. Began as a radio series, then became a TV adaption on BBC1. A one off reunion special aired in 2014 with a second in 2015 as part of "Indian Season".

Regular characters included:

  • Cheque Please - A tactless playboy who drives his dates away with insensitive behaviour or comments.
  • Bhangra Muffins - Two "street" teenage boys with attitude.
  • Everything Comes From India - A man who believes that everything from shampoo note  to Superman is Indian note  or was invented by Indians.
  • Minx Twins - Gossipy teenage girls.
  • Chunky Lafanga - Bollywood superstar.
  • Smeeta Smitten Showbiz Kitten - A Bollywood reporter whose presenting style leaves a lot to be desired.
  • The Coopers - Snobbish nouveau riche couple in denial that they are Indian.
  • Bhangra Man - A superhero who saves people through the power of bhangra dance.
  • Guru Maharishi Yogi - A spiritual "guru" who likes to con money out of his followers.
  • The Competitive Mothers: Exactly What It Says on the Tin

The best remembered sketch from the show, which has won several awards, was "Going for an English" - a parody of the behaviour of drunken Brits in Indian restaurants.

Tropes used in the show include:

  • Berserk Button: Try suggesting that the Kapoors and Rabindranaths - er, Coopers and Robinsons - are anything but 100% English ...
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: One Smeera Smitten sketch has her saying that after her career hit the skids she'd wound up a drug-addled, manic depressive alcoholic... so naturally she managed to easily get a job at the BBC.
  • Black Comedy: Often invoked when dealing with serious topics such as racism, Honor-Related Abuse and sectarian violence.
  • The B Grade:
    • "My son got a B!"
    • One of the options given in "Fifty Ways to Leave Your Mother" is fail an exam.
  • Broken-Window Warning: The Coopers get a brick through their window from racist neighbours. They ignore the racist message written on it, and toss it in the bin with all the others.
  • Catchphrase: "Kiss my chuddies!", "Cheque please!", "In your dreams, buddy!", "I can make it at home for nothing!", "Chaakde phaate!", "Yes, but how big is his danda?", etc.
  • Captain Ethnic: The Punjabi super-hero BhangraMan, who defeats his foes through his amazing superpower of Indian folk dancing. BhangraMan is meant as a double parody, firstly of comic super-heroes in general, and secondly of the home-grown Indian variant such as Shaktimaan and Nagraj.
  • Captain Geographic: The Punjabi superhero BhangraMan.
  • Catchphrase Interruptus
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: The Bhangra Muffins
  • Cultural Posturing: Mr. Everything Comes From India, including the Renaissance masters and John Travolta.
  • Culture Justifies Anything: Savagely lampooned in one sketch where an Indian woman runs into a women's shelter, screaming that her husband is chasing after her with a knife. The white woman running the shelter decides that this must be a "cultural" matter, and refuses to intervene - even when the husband breaks in.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The first Bhangra Muffin sketch has them using a lot of phrases taken from the then-recent election of Tony Blair... applied to gangsta rap.
  • Discriminate and Switch: A young Indian man nervously tries to come out as gay to his old-fashioned parents. As he expected, they're angry ... because he has a white boyfriend instead of "a nice Indian boy."
  • Education Mama: Gender flipped in this sketch. The mother is very proud of her son's accomplishments while the father is enraged at his perceived shortcomings.
  • Fauxreigner: One sketch was a parody of The Great Escape, where a group of Indian prisoners of war in WWII attempt to escape by posing as East Germans - "very East"
  • Flanderization: A mild but distinct example with Mr Everything Comes From India. In his early sketches he'd set up the joke by mentioning things that actually are from India (e.g. the words "veranda" and "bungalow") before claiming things that definitely aren't (e.g. the phrase "mock Tudor mansion"). In later sketches he'd skip the first bit and go straight to claiming non-Indian things as Indian with absurd justifications.
  • Gag Dub: The "Skipinder the Punjabi Kangaroo" sketch.
  • Gay Bar Reveal: In a Bhangra Muffins sketch.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • A father reassures his distraught wife that they'll confront their son about a matter calmly. Then when their son enters he starts yelling at him.
    • A woman applying for a job at the BBC chides the Asian Babe for being degrading and setting feminism back with her airheadedness. Then in her interview acts just as airheaded.
  • Instant Humiliation Just Add Youtube: Since Youtube didn't exist at the time, the Minx twins being humiliated in partaking in a Christmas show as sheep, while the lazy airheaded white girl who doesn't even know her lines plays Mary, is compounded by their family is in the audience filming them on camcorders.
  • Just the Introduction to the Opposites: "Going Out for an English", about a group of drunk and rowdy Indian friends who visit an English restaurant, repeatedly mispronounce the waiter's strange foreign name (James) and show how macho they are by ordering "the blandest thing on the menu".
    • This sketch is exceptional for the series in that it makes fun of a stereotype of white British, rather than British Asian, behaviour.
  • Kick the Dog: Guru Yogi visits a housewife, and asks if she'd like to be a Hindu. She says she would, and he tells her "well, you can't."
  • Large Ham: Chunky Lafanga
  • Magical Asian: Where the Indian guru teaching the secrets of Hinduism to a roomful of credulous white disciples is quite blatantly only in it for the money, and is feeding them profound-sounding nonsense to justify the "living expenses" they are paying him. He is explicitly an Expy of The Beatles' guru Maharishi Yogi, right down to the name.
  • Moment Killer: A couple trying to say goodbye at a station are bothered by people trying to hawk their wares, even after being told to shove off.
  • Momma's Boy: Often used as a source of humour. One sketch is the song "Fifty Ways to Leave Your Mother". Another has a couple trying to go to therapy over the man being one of these going wrong because the therapist is his mother.
  • The Movie: Partition: The Motion Picture
  • My Beloved Smother: A recurring joke is Asian mothers being extremely controlling, with the bickering mothers getting into an argument about it.
  • My New Gift Is Lame: During one Christmas show, two gals sing about the things they'd like for Christmas, instead of what they'll actually get, which is shirts and MENSA memberships.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: One sketch had a son of a Hindu family who turned Jewish, and who returns home sounding like Woody Allen.
  • Oh, Crap!: The Coopers and Robinsons are about to have a very British gin and tonic, until they notice the tonic water is Indian. They decided to change their drink order.
  • Old People are Nonsexual: Parodied in a sketch where a grandmother tries to give her soon-to-be-married granddaughter advice about the wedding night, involving "vibrating eggs" and far more detail than the granddaughter wants to hear.
  • Plain Palate: The 'Going for an English' sketch involves Asian people going to an English restaurant and ordering "the blandest thing on the menu" as a parody of the National Stereotype about Brits in Indian restaurants.
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy: One song on the show was a parody of "Common People" by Pulp. The singer accuses his white girlfriend of trying too hard to emulate Hindi culture because she thinks it's trendy.
  • Questionable Casting: Invoked with the cast of "Partition: The Movie", where all the actors are clearly the wrong choice (Jim Carrey as Lord Mountbatten).
  • Rule of Three: One episode has a marriage counsellor trying to reassure couples.
  • Running Gag
  • The Scrooge: Another frequently used joke is Asians being insanely stingy.
  • Sound-to-Screen Adaptation: Originally a series on BBC radio.
  • Start My Own: When Smeeta Smitten is fired from the TV show she presents, she decides to create her own show and sell it to the network; and produces several attempted pilot episodes. None of them goes well.
  • Stereotypical South Asian English: The series sends up White British perceptions of Asians, and sometimes the exaggerated accent is used to make a point concerning the ignorant British.
  • Stereotype Flip:
    • One sketch flips the stereotype of obnoxious Brits making fools of themselves at Indian restaurants with a bunch of Indians who decide to "go for an English".
    • The first sketch on the TV show has one white guy having to deal with his all-Indian employers not getting his name, constantly mispronouncing it despite his efforts to help them along.
    • A sketch in the Christmas special has a young man telling his mum and dad he doesn't want to be a pop star, like all his cousins. He wants to be a doctor! And he's never been gay.
    • Later on, there's a woman interviewing three 'teenagers' who're harassed by their friends because they're... middle class. They don't even know how to say "innit", bruv.
  • Take That!: "The Blacked Up Men" aimed entirely at blackface.
  • Titled After the Song: "Goodness Gracious Me" was originally a comic song by Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren, in which Sellers (who was white) played a heavily-accented Indian doctor and Loren his patient, who was in love with him. According to Word of God, the Goodness Gracious Me team originally intended to do a much more aggressive sketch attacking the song, until they listened to the lyrics and realised that, despite the stereotypical fake accent, Sellers' character was actually quite positively portrayed and the song wasn't racist in its humour.
  • Token White: The show had Dave Lamb in the cast to play the Token White Man, who was cast in role-reversal situations where he represented the equivalent of an Indian or Pakistani, who is alone among white people in an unfamiliar culture. This was used to LampShade white British attitudes towards Asians, ranging from well-meaning ineptitude to outright racism. note .
  • Truth in Television: The cast based some of the characters on the show on people they knew and didn't exaggerate when portraying them, offending those people greatly while doing it.
  • The Unintelligible: Bhangra Man speaks only in Punjabi but is always perfectly understood by English-speaking characters.

  • Whole-Plot Reference: The "Marriage Emporium" sketch is one to Monty Python's "Cheese Shop Sketch" (with a bit of the Dead Parrot thrown in at the end).