Yesterday Auntie Beeb posted a number of all-star comedy shorts on its iPlayer site… and the first one I sucked down the tubes was Meera Syal‘s Playback. It runs for roughly nine minutes (including a slightly unnecessary introduction), and begins with the host of an entertainment show “filling time” by interviewing ‘Mala Mistry’ (Syal), a uni-browed playback singer, while they await the arrival of ‘Priya Patel’ (Ayesha Dharker), the glamorous Bollywood actress whose gorgeous face is more commonly associated with the singer’s vocals. Mala explains how she was bullied at school for her deep voice and unkempt appearance, before finding validation in American singers like Nina Simone, who inspired her to start working the club circuit… which is where Priya “discovered” her, and locked Mala into an exclusive contract, forbidding her from releasing any songs under her own name! Naturally, Mala’s rather resentful about that, and a lot of bile gets spilt when Priya finally glides into the studio, and tries to steal the spotlight back again!
Although packed with jokes that wouldn’t seem all that out-of-place in an episode of Goodness Gracious Me, it’s also a little more bitter-sweet than their typical sketches tend to be… though I really wouldn’t mind if they went for longer, more involved pieces like this in future episodes… assuming they make another series, that is. Either way, this short is well worth a watch!