Like mother, like daughter in Syal drama

A television drama based on Meera Syal's novel about the lives of Asian women has turned into a family affair, starring her real-life daughter and boyfriend.

A TELEVISION drama based on Meera Syal's novel about the lives of Asian women has turned into a family affair, starring her real-life daughter and boyfriend.

The comic actress, who is best known for her roles in Goodness Gracious Me and The Kumars at No 42, has adapted her novel Life Isn't All Ha Ha Hee Hee for BBC1. In the drama, currently filming in London, Syal plays the lead character Sunita, while her daughter Milli plays her on-screen child.

The comedian Sanjeev Bhaskar, Syal's boyfriend in real life, plays Sunita's fictional psychotherapist husband, Akaash.

Milli, 12, won the part after entering an open audition, but Syal said the fact that they have a genuine mother and daughter relationship has helped to bring the characters to life.

"What did clinch it ... is you have to get the sense of a mother-daughter connection. There's a shorthand you can't always get immediately with a child actor," Syal said.

Three other relatives are extras in the drama. It will be broadcast in March.

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