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#Engage: Meera Syal…teams up with Professor Green? For Shakespeare?


One of the world’s biggest consumer electronics giants is bringing Shakespeare to the generation blighted by short attention spans and video gaming.

Samsung, in partnership with the venerable Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), have released a ground-breaking new android app hoping to inspire students into exploring Shakespeare, both in the classroom and beyond.

In one of the first tests for the new app, Samsung brought together the unique pairing of British Asian actress Meera Syal, the star of innumerable Shakespearean dramas (of both varieties) with Professor Green, one of Britain’s biggest rap artists to perform the Bard at a school in northwest London.

This is what happened:

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#AffirmativeAction: ‘Bring RACIAL QUOTAS for British TV productions’ – Meera Syal

British-Indian Actress Meera Syal says 'racial quotas' may be the way forward if the UK is to address the lack of diversity on British TV screens.

Speaking during the Act for Change conference in London on Tuesday, the 'Goodness Gracious Me' star lent her voice to the on-going debate about the need for TV productions to reflect the diversity in British society.

“For a lot of us this is like Groundhog Day.  We were having these discussions thirty years ago and I can’t believe we are still having them", Syal said.

“I’d like to examine the most radical of the suggestions which is the quota system.  With all the good will in the world attitudes just are not changing.  If things are not changing, you have got to lead people that way. I know people are worried about tokenism but that only happens when there is not a lot of talent out there and there is a massive amount of talent.”

Despite her popularity as a stage, TV and film actress as well as an acclaimed writer, 53-year-old Syal's work has been largely confined to productions about her own community rather than the mainstream: a fate that has befallen innumerable actors Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities.

The absence of ethnic minority on TV has caused widespread anger.

Syal's comments echo those of comedian and actor Lenny Henry, who told the Guardian newspaper in June: "From making very small gains in the industry, when we had a little bit of representation, we have gone backwards.  People aren't just hitting the glass ceiling: they are standing on a glass precipice."

While nearly 15% of the British population is from a BAME community, just over 5% of all jobs in the creative industry are held by people of ethnic origin: a statistic that is made starker given that the BAME community in London - home to a vast majority of the TV industry - constitute nearly half of the entire population of the UK capital.

It is an imbalance that Act for Change aims to redress.

Established in January 2014, the organization examines diversity in British TV drama and campaigns for more BAME representation on screen. 

The organization is backed by several high profile TV stars, including Stephen Fry, Sophie Okonedo, David Harewood, David Morrissey and Jack Whitehall.


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Meera Syal’s Asian Comedy Night: Failing to Lift Off

Overbearing relatives, arranged marriages, aversion to loo rolls and subtlety, Bollywood, Sex, Sex in Bollywood, wool coats that smell of Aamchoor, the uncomfortable attempts at integration: whatever else it may lack, the British Asian community would never be found wanting for comic inspiration.    These are eccentricities that Meera Syal – …

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