PHILIP NOLAN MY VIEW

Could the satirists hope to top ‘go­ing for an English’? We’ll find out to­mor­row...

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - YOUR TV WEEK -

t was voted the sixth best com­edy sketch in the his­tory of Bri­tish TV. A group of In­dian friends, played by reg­u­lar cast mem­bers San­jeev Bhaskar, Kul­vin­der Ghir, Meera Syal and Nina Wadia ( later fa­mous as Zainab Ma­sood in EastEn­ders), go for ‘an English’, or­der­ing the bland­est food on the menu and 24 plates of chips.

It was a sav­agely ac­cu­rate par­ody of the late-night habits of young Brits ar­riv­ing into In­dian restaurants and try­ing to outdo each other by or­der­ing a moun­tain of poppa dums a nd the hottest cur­ries on the menu.

It placed Good­ness Gra­cious Me, right, firmly in the pan­theon of the fun­ni­est com­edy shows on BBC2 and, by way of cel­e­brat­ing the chan­nel’s 50th birth­day, it re­turns for a one- off spe­cial to­mor­row night at 11pm.

The great beauty of the show was that while it os­ten­si­bly dealt with the Asian ex­pe­ri­ence of Bri­tish life, many of the sketches ap­plied to any eth­nic mi­nor­ity. There was the fa­ther who in­sisted that ev­ery­thing, and ev­ery­one fa­mous, had an In­dian con­nec­tion. The same would equally ap­ply to us, who look for an Ir­ish an­gle to ev­ery­thing, or to an­ces­try to es­tab­lish a claim on any­one with an Ir­ish-sound­ing sur­name.

Then there were the Ku­mars, up­wardly mo­bile In­dian yup­pies who called them­selves the Koopars to fit in, and joined the lo­cal ten­nis club to be­come more English than the English them­selves.

When the show started on tele­vi­sion in 1996 (it al­ready had a run on ra­dio), this was a rad­i­cal de­par­ture, the first time In­dian hu­mour reached the main­stream. Bhaskar and Syal, who later mar­ried, con­tinue with their spoof chat­show, The Ku­mars, on Sky One.

It will be fun to see what new gems they come up with – and to find out if they can bet­ter ‘go­ing for an English’. Gabriel Byrne (above) and Michael Gam­bon star in the BBC de­but for Quirke, set in Dublin in the 1950s. Byrne plays Quirke (we never get to know his Chris­tian name), who, de­spite his rack­ety life and se­ri­ous drink­ing habit, holds down the po­si­tion of city pathol­o­gist. And he takes his job very se­ri­ously – so se­ri­ously that when, one night, he hap­pens upon his adop­tive brother, Malachy (Nick Dun­ning), ob­stet­ric con­sul­tant and up­right cit­i­zen, be­hav­ing sus­pi­ciously in the path lab, Quirke is de­ter­mined to find out what’s go­ing on. Why is Malachy com­plet­ing the pa­per­work for a re­cently de­ceased pa­tient, Chris­tine Falls – and why is Chris­tine’s body miss­ing in the morn­ing? Quirke’s dogged in­ves­ti­ga­tion is soon leading him into ex­tremely murky – and dan­ger­ous – ter­ri­tory.

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