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Press release

  • 24 February 2009

Sanjeev Bhaskar is the new Chancellor of the University of Sussex

Sanjeev Bhaskar

Sanjeev Bhaskar

Writer and actor Sanjeev Bhaskar OBE has been appointed as the University of Sussex's new Chancellor.

Mr Bhaskar, who was one of the team in the ground-breaking TV comedy, 'Goodness Gracious Me', and who wrote and starred in the multi award-winning 'The Kumars at No. 42', with his wife Meera Syal, will be formally installed at the University's summer graduation ceremony in July, 2009.

Speaking about his honorary appointment, Mr Bhaskar said: "I am passionate about the opportunity to contribute to change and development for individuals and society and I am extremely proud to be associated with a radical, transformational university such as Sussex."

The new Chancellor was elected unanimously at a special meeting of the University's Court on 23 February, with support coming from Sussex academics and leaders of organisations across the city and county, including the Mayor of Brighton and Hove, the NHS Partnership Trust, the Police Authority, the High Sheriff of Sussex, and local businesses.

University of Sussex Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Farthing said: "Sanjeev Bhaskar was for me a perfect candidate for Chancellor. Not only is he a gifted and inspiring writer and entertainer, he has also demonstrated a real commitment to education across continents. He will be an important presence on campus for our students and will support me as we progress our ambition to further internationalise the University. Above all, he will be a delightful colleague."

The University's Chair of Council Simon Fanshawe said: "In appointing Sanjeev Bhaskar, the University is making a powerful statement that Sussex is looking to its future. In mid career, he has made a considerable impact in his field and is on the cusp of greater achievement."

Mr Bhaskar was born in Ealing in 1963 and grew up in Hounslow, Middlesex, where his parents ran a launderette. He gained a degree in marketing at Hatfield Polytechnic (now the University of Hertfordshire) and was working for IBM when he tried his hand at performance. He joined forces with college friend and musician Nitin Sawhney to create 'The Secret Asians', a popular arts venue act that came to the attention of Anil Gupta, producer of the ensemble sketch show, 'Goodness Gracious Me'. The show successfully transferred from BBC Radio 4 to BBC TV in 1998.

Mr Bhaskar followed this with his solo venture 'The Kumars at No. 42', in which he played a celebrity chat show host trying to run the programme from his parents' living room. In 2007 he made a series of documentaries on the 60th anniversary of the independence of India and Pakistan, in which he traced his ancestral roots. His first book, India with Sanjeev Bhaskar, was based on the series and has become a bestseller. Among his many current and future projects is an ITV comedy, 'Mumbai Calling', set in an Indian call centre.

In 2005 he was honoured with an OBE for his contribution to entertainment. 'Goodness Gracious Me' won a British Comedy Award, Bronze Rose of Montreux and was BAFTA-nominated. 'The Kumars at No. 42' picked up two International Emmys, a British Comedy Award and a Peabody Award. Mr Bhaskar was also a 2003 BAFTA nominee in the entertainment performance category,

Aside from his showbusiness ventures, Mr Bhaskar has been involved with several education projects, frequently giving talks to schools and college students in England and also in India (Including the prestigious Mayo College in Rajasthan).

In being offered the role of Chancellor, Mr Bhaskar paid tribute to his predecessor Lord Attenborough, who stepped down in July, 2008, after ten years. "Having had the privilege of meeting Lord Attenborough several times and being continually inspired by him as an artist, humanitarian and family man and knowing of his passion for education, it is humbling to follow in his esteemed footsteps at the University of Sussex."

Notes for editors

The role of Chancellor:

The  Chancellor is an honorary role and the figurehead of the University. The Chancellor plays a leading role in the life of the University, most prominently as the person who confers degrees on students at the summer and winter graduation ceremonies. The Chancellor is also the chair of Court, which meets once a year to receive a report on the University's activities, and works closely with the University in its external engagement with the wider world of business and the community.


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