He may be wowing the West End with his performance of King Arthur in Monty Python's hit musical Spamalot but comedian Sanjeev Bhaskar insists it is West London which he still holds dear. CHRIS LONGHURST spoke to the star of TV shows including The Kumars at Number 42 and Goodness Gracious Me to retrace his roots home along the A40
Ealing, Hillingdon and Hounslow - you name them, Sanjeev Bhaskar has been there. He was born in the former, grew up in the latter and spent plenty of time in the one in the middle! Still able to boast plenty of family ties to all three, Sanjeev is truly a local boy made good.
At the age of two-and-a-half he moved from Ealing to Heston, in Hounslow, where the family lived above a launderette Sanjeev's father had bought. It remained a place to call home until he moved away to study at Hatfield Polytechnic, now the University of Hertfordshire.
He jokes: "I am very grateful to them because my degree came from the poly, but my honorary doctorate came from the university - which is much more prestigious."
Sanjeev always had a love of the theatre, starting with early visits to The Beck, in Grange Road, Hayes, but he started his performing career with his friend Nitin Sawhney, now a noted composer, at the Waterman's Art Centre in Brentford.
The road would not be an easy one but Sanjeev had grown used to dealing with tough times because of the racism he encountered during his senior school days.
He said: "My school was on the border with Southall and there was a 30 per cent Asian mix at a time of high tension. People tried to stop me talking to white kids, which I refused to do for six months.
"People just stopped talking to me which was very hard to take."
He is now firmly loving his role as the King of the Britons and is delighted to be able to add 'musical theatre' to his lengthy resumé which already includes radio, television, author and script writer.
He said: "Theatre is better than any other medium at colour-blind casting.
"I had literally never thought a role made famous by Graham Chapman in The Holy Grail and Tim Curry on stage could be played by anyone other than a white man."
Sanjeev is currently negotiating to remain in Spamalot until the end of its run in January and, when asked if he has any remaining ambitions, replies simply: "To be 5ft 10ins, but that one is probably beyond me!
"At the end of the day I am tremendously proud of my heritage.
"There is such a cosmopolitan mix of cultures and it is such a creative place it undoubtedly made me who I am today."
He may be a superstar, but Sanjeev Baskar will always remain 'the kid from West London.'
* Spamalot is running at the Palace Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, until January. Tickets from £30. Visit www.palace-theatre.co.uk for more information.