Meera Syal on Bafta fellowship: This represents change

Meera Syal put a bindi on her Bafta and said: “This represents change” as she took home the academy’s highest honour.

The Goodness Gracious Me star was given the Bafta fellowship at the annual television awards, where she was hailed by stars including Olivia Colman, Sir Lenny Henry and Adrian Lester before she adorned the accolade with the red dot.

Collecting the prize on stage at the Royal Festival Hall, she reflected on being “a chubby brown kid from Wolverhampton”, saying she “got othered a lot”.

Bafta Television Awards 2023
Meera Syal with the Bafta Fellowship award at the Bafta Television Awards (Jeff Moore/PA)

She added: “We are all storytellers here.

“So we know how much it matters, what stories we choose to tell, but more importantly, who gets to tell them.

“Not just in front of the camera, but in the writers’ rooms and the makeup vans and around the table where the deals are done.

“As Maya Angelou said, ‘There’s no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you’.

“And we have some cracking ones, truly, you just have to open the doors and listen.”

Looking at her gong, she said: “I know this represents change.

“And we all know we still have work to do.

“But we all stand on the shoulders of our ancestors and giants.”

Bafta Television Awards 2023
Meera Syal and husband Sanjeev Bhaskar (Yui Mok/PA)

She continued: “Finally, to all my fellow travellers, all the ones who’ve been made to feel because of their race or sex or class that their stories don’t matter, they do.

“Because the untold stories are the ones that change us and sometimes can change the world.

“Please keep going.

“I see you.

“And thank you so much Bafta for tonight seeing us.”

Previous recipients of the fellowship include Sir Billy Connolly, Joanna Lumley, journalist Jon Snow and presenter Sir Michael Palin, who also have made an “outstanding and exceptional contribution” to TV, according to Bafta.