The title of the show is a reference to the hit comedy song "Goodness Gracious Me" by Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren, in which Sellers plays an Indian doctor in brownface make-up and sings the title phrase. See more »
[In an English restaurant in India. Ordering some food]
Indian man 1:
. For starter we shall have 6... no 12 bread rolls. For main course everybody?
Indian Man 2:
What's the blandest thing on the menu?
James the Waiter:
The scampi's our specialty sir.
Indian Man 2:
I'll have that.
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The strength of 'Goodness Gracious Me' was that it appealed to a wide audience - not squarely Asian or White British, but to everyone. And with sketches and characters like the Coopers/Kapoors (more English than anyone around them), Mr 'Check Please' (insulting every girl he sits down in a restaurant with), the Showbiz Kitten (Meera Syal purring like a poisonous cat), the huge Bollywood spoofs (usually involving Kulvinder Ghir poncing around in some ridiculously glamorous setting like the Indian song and dance fests), the 'Innit' teenagers, and, my favourites, the song pastiches, how could it fail? The four main performers were all instrumental to the show's success - Meera Syal as main writer and a key performer, with a classical acting background; Nina Wadia with her squeaky voice and amusing screen presence (some great characters were created for her); Sanjeev Bhaskar laying the foundations for his chat-show Kumar character; and Kulvinder Ghir as the daft scene-stealer who was better than you initially thought he was.
'Goodness Gracious Me' set the standard for ethnic comedies to follow, and by bringing the humour into the mainstream (the Indian family who 'go for an English', for example), it broke through boundaries that had been previously set for what would work in prime-time TV. Not enough episodes were made but what did get to the screen was definitely among the funniest comedy of the late 1990s.
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