Celebrities choose the TV moments that have shaped their lives, with Brian Conley. Nina Wadia looks back at The A Team, Moonlighting and Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em.
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TV, the magic box of delights.
As kids, it showed us a million different worlds,
all from our living room.
This takes me right back.
That's so embarrassing!
I am genuinely shocked.
Each day, I'm going to journey through the wonderful
world of telly with one of our favourite celebrities...
It is just so silly.
Oh, I love it!
Is it Mr Benn?
-..as they select the iconic TV moments...
..that tell us the stories of their lives.
Oh! Oh, my gosh.
-Some will make you laugh...
..some will surprise...
-..many will inspire...
Look at this. Why wouldn't you want to watch this?
..and others will move us.
Seeing that there made a huge impact on me.
Got a handkerchief?
So, come watch with us,
as we rewind to the classic telly that shaped those wide-eyed
youngsters into the much-loved stars they are today.
Welcome to The TV That Made Me.
My guest today is one of the most recognisable faces on our screens.
She's made us laugh, she's made us cry,
and it is a real pleasure to have her here today.
Please welcome the wonderful Nina Wadia!
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
-How are you?
Nina Wadia burst onto our screens in 1998 in the award-winning
comedy sketch show Goodness Gracious Me.
In 2007, she joined the cast of EastEnders as tough talking Zainab Masood,
before joining David Jason in Still Open All Hours as local
gossip Mrs Hussein.
The TV that made her includes a calamitous comedy sitcom,
a frustrated housewife...
..my custard is unpredictable.
..and the show that made her a star.
..when you can make it at home for nothing!
-So, are you excited about this trip down memory lane?
-Because I feel old.
Oh, you don't look old.
-You look absolutely radiant.
-Thank you, but, yeah, no...
Just actually having to think about all the stuff I used to watch.
We're looking forward to today.
Today is a celebration of TV classic moments that you have chosen,
but first up, we're going to rewind the clock now, Nina,
and have a look at a very young Nina Wadia.
Nina was born in Mumbai, in India, in 1968.
She and her family moved to Hong Kong when she was nine,
after her airline purser dad landed a new job running a restaurant there.
After heading to the UK to finish of her education,
she decided to pursue a career as an actor,
attending drama school in Wandsworth, in London.
Her big break came on the award-winning sketch show
Goodness Gracious Me,
where she played a whole variety of characters.
Nina broke away from comedy to join EastEnders,
where she was at the centre of some explosive storylines.
-What's it like looking back?
-Strange, really strange.
Brings back a lot of fond memories.
Because, sadly, both my parents have passed,
so it is nice to see them again.
We had very few pictures of the five of us. Very few pictures.
Because, you know, cameras weren't that easily available,
and all that stuff, at the time. And we weren't particularly well off,
so... I found this one particular black and white still
of the five of us.
The edges have all been kind of eaten away with damp from where
we found it in our place.
But it looks really amazing, it is
like somebody's particularly framed the five of us in this cloud.
It is quite special, quite special.
You had quite an unusual childhood, didn't you?
-Because you weren't born here.
-No. My heritage is Persian.
But I was born and brought up in India, and then in Hong Kong.
And in between, with Dad on postings with the airlines,
I used to... I have kind of lived all over the world a bit.
-Was your father a pilot?
-No, he was a purser. A flight purser.
-He was the real kind of actor in the family.
What sort of telly did you have in Mumbai or Hong Kong?
-Well, in... We... It was Bombay at the time.
We had... It was a big thing when we actually had a telly come in,
it was a huge thing.
And I remember as a child being very confused at this box arriving.
I didn't know how they made people that small.
They could move and walk in them. That was really surprising to me.
And I remember there was a lot of news,
because that's the only real programmes they had there.
News in Marathi and in Hindi.
I had kind of just started to learn those languages,
I was very little.
So I'd say, "Who is this lady who always comes
"and tells us really bad things every day?"
I didn't like her very much.
And then there was this big thing, because we got a colour TV.
-And it was about the year before we left for Hong Kong,
I was about nine.
And I'll never forget, there was this thing... They went:
"Oh, we've got cable! Cable TV!"
And I'm thinking, what is cable TV? What's cable TV?
Well, that was a guy in the top flat who had the best TV signal
running a cable to the back of our TV!
So who was in your family?
So Mum, Dad, my brother, my sister and myself.
And I was a mistake, as you know, my brother and sister
-kept reminding me.
Because they were a lot older than I am.
So I sort of suddenly came along a bit later,
and just, you know, was thrown in.
And one thing which really annoyed me was the fact that
I very rarely had new clothes.
I was always given either my brother or my sister's old clothes to wear!
So I was a little bit of a tomboy as well.
-And then we moved to Hong Kong.
-Yeah, how exciting was that?
-And what age would you have been?
That would have been sort of coming up to nine, now,
and there was the opportunity for Dad to go to Hong Kong,
and run a restaurant.
And Mum wanted him to stop flying, because, you know,
he missed a lot of birthdays and things, mostly mine,
cos he'd get overtime at Christmas,
and I'm born around Christmas time, so it would be like, here we go,
Dad's not going to be there for my birthday.
But he always made sure that there was some parcel or present
that arrived with one of the other guys from the flight crew,
so I really used to look forward to that as well.
So it was a very exciting time.
So we're going to have a look at your first choice, now, Nina.
This is the first sort of TV programme that you came to love.
-It's the A-Team.
I love it!
'These men promptly escaped from maximum-security stockade
'to the Los Angeles underground...'
With its iconic theme tune,
1980s action adventure series the A-Team was one of the first shows
that young Nina watched after moving to Hong Kong.
THEME TUNE PLAYS
THEY BOTH DUN-DUN THE THEME TUNE
Breakfast At Tiffany's star George Peppard
played group leader Hannibal,
whose plans always saved the day.
This is when men were men!
Dirk Benedict was the smooth talking Faceman,
the team's second-in-command.
Look at him, his blue eyes. Look at that!
Dwight Schultz was the insane and unpredictable pilot
"Howling Mad" Murdoch.
Oh, Murdoch used to make me laugh.
-He was definitely off the wall, wasn't he, that guy?
I kind of liked all of them in different ways,
but I actually really liked Mr T.
I just... I loved him! He was so...
I loved that he hated to fly so much. This really big, strong...
Like, "I'm not getting on a plane!"
Appearing, too, was Rocky III star Mr T,
who played BA "Bad Attitude" Baracas.
-AS MR T:
-I pity the fool.
-Yeah, wonderful stunts, wasn't there?
-Oh, superb stunts.
I mean, for a television programme as well, yes.
Cars just flipping over like nobody's business.
Look at that, look at that!
-Can I watch the whole episode, or do I have...
-Fasten your seatbelts.
-Keep the nose down.
In this hair-raising clip,
pilot Murdoch has been
temporarily blinded, but as always,
Hannibal has it all under control.
Yeah, we're definitely out of fuel.
You see, this is my favourite combination.
-It's humour and action.
Two things I love.
OK, when you think you're going to hit the runway,
you pull back on that yoke as hard as you can.
Hang on, you're not allowed to smoke on a plane.
It's the A-Team, you can do anything you like! And it's fine.
Get on the brakes, Smith. Hit the brakes!
-HANNIBAL: Where are they?
-I got 'em!
BRIAN: One of the running themes was BA's aversion to flying.
This was his worst nightmare.
-See, there's a stunt, isn't there?
See, BA, flying isn't so bad.
I love it when a plan comes together.
"I love it when a plan comes together." There we go.
-There you go.
-Oh, so good!
It bring backs happy memories.
It really does. We're just...
It was one of those where I, of course, got to sit on the floor,
in our house, because the sofa wasn't big enough for all of us.
-Of course, being youngest...
-Being the youngest,
but then also my brother, so my brother and me down there,
Mum and Dad and my sister on the sofa, and that's it,
we used to just... I used to LOVE watching this.
So what were you like as a kid, then?
It's really weird, I went through...
I started off very good,
I was a very good little girl.
I studied a lot, I used to love school.
I loved school, I just enjoyed it
cos I had a lot of friends at school and...
And I loved sport, and that was my kind of real background,
and you know, and then when we moved to Hong Kong,
I had a completely new set of friends there.
Because I grew up kind of playing cricket
and things like that in India, I started to play it over there,
and people found that a bit funny, and also...
When I then went from Hong Kong to here and people said,
"Oh, there's a girl from Hong Kong coming," and I was Indian,
they'd go, "What happened to her? We were expecting a Chinese girl to come in!"
But...I was a good kid.
So was there many American imports
that you used to watch in Hong Kong? TV shows?
-Yes, it was mostly...
Mostly American stuff, which is why the A-Team sort of came along.
And then we had...
strangely, an Australian show that came over,
which was Prisoner Cell Block H, which was...
For some reason, I was really scared of those women.
And it was a show that my mum and my sister loved, but I was too young.
And they used to scare me, saying, "Oh, you can't watch this show."
So then I'd go and hide.
And then, they'd go, "Actually, this bit's fine,"
and it would be the horrible bit where some woman was beating
another woman up, and I'd go "I don't like it!"
-So you used to find Prisoner Cell Block H terrifying?
I really did.
-I find shows where women are cruel to women most upsetting.
Yeah! I don't mind men beating each other up,
it's women being cruel I don't like.
-So do you feel confident enough to watch a little clip, now?
-From Prisoner Cell Block H?
-Do I have to?
Yes, I'm afraid you do. This is The TV That Made Me, and here it is.
This is Prisoner Cell Block H.
-Do you want me to hold your hand?
Prisoner cell Block H was set
in the fictional Wentworth detention centre.
The show focused on how inmates dealt with the power struggles,
friendships, and rivalries of life behind bars.
She was all right.
The really naughty older one.
-This is Liz.
-Liz, that's right.
-She had that voice, didn't she?
-She has the voice of a murderer.
-That one! She's the scary one!
One of the main sources of conflict was over who was prison top dog.
In this scene, Frankie, played by Carol Burns,
is making it very clear that she is in charge.
See, look, look, she's going, she's going to hurt her now.
Don't hurt her, don't hurt her!
What are you saving up for, your old age?
-You should be worried about your old age, Lizzie.
Old bones take a long time to heal.
It also made me think that all Australians are mean.
And there comes the tennis player.
I always thought she looks like Martina Navratilova, this woman.
-She does, doesn't she?
Anything wrong, Lizzie?
No, Mrs Jackson.
692 episodes of this, there was.
It was created by Reg Watson,
who also created Neighbours.
Prisoner was screened late at night in the UK.
With its wobbly sets and outlandish storylines,
it rapidly became cult viewing.
This is why I'd never steal or kill someone, because I'd end up there!
-So this definitely made you scared of prison?
It made me scared of life generally.
I think all teenage girls should watch this show,
and they'll be really decent human beings.
For me, suddenly seeing a show that was mostly women,
which is also very unusual for its time.
Most shows were kind of run by men and had men in them,
and then seeing these women that were really quite hard and whatever,
I was like...
Mind you, it came in handy for my career a bit later,
when I had to play stronger women.
-Yeah, yeah, yeah.
-I took a bit of that with me.
Several TV comedies and dramas
have made prison life
the backdrop to their plot.
'80s drama Tenko saw women trapped
in the appalling conditions
of an early 1940s Japanese prison camp.
On a more light-hearted note,
played by Ronnie Barker,
tried to avoid trouble
while scoring victories over the authorities in Porridge.
Pauline Quirke and Linda Robson
played Birds Of A Feather's
Sharon and Tracy.
Their lives were never the same
after husbands Chris and Daryl were in prison for armed robbery.
And Pauline Quirke
found herself behind bars
in the psychological thriller
Now, for your next choice, Nina,
let's see what show you cancelled everything to see.
This is, of course, your must-see TV.
Best show ever.
Cybill Shepherd starred as Maddie
in one of the biggest series
of the 1980s.
# Some walk by night... #
The show introduced us to a wisecracking future megastar
as cheeky chappie investigator
It was a classy comedy drama,
focused on tension between
the two lead characters.
# ..cos we met on the way... #
-Would you still watch it?
-I would still watch it again
if it were on now.
-But it's got the ultimate man in it for me.
Still, even now, Bruce?
Still, even now. Still, even now.
Not during the whole thing, David,
you haven't said a word.
I don't have to say anything.
This was now slightly older.
I was kind of maybe 16 or 17...
Oh, my God, this is the scene!
-They finally, after how many series, get together.
What do you mean, not worth it?
Not worth it, not worth it. No woman is worth this, all right?
Season three promised a culmination of David and Maddie's
But in this scene, it looked like yet again it wouldn't happen.
I'm not worth it? I'm not worth it?
Look who's talking about worth, Mr Bargain Basement.
If there was a close-out sale on human beings,
you'd be the last one to sell!
Yeah, you ought to know, honey!
See, I left Hong Kong before this aired...
..and I begged a friend of mine there to tape it on VHS, and said,
"I will miss the episode, they get together!
"I've been waiting for six years," or however long it was.
And she did, she sent it to me, and I watched it about 100 times.
This one scene,
cos I just thought it was so sexy.
I was only 16, I was like...
"This is so sexy."
Did you wear the tape out?
Here comes the slap.
-And she'll do it again. Watch!
-Ooh, that had to hurt.
Third one coming.
MUSIC: Be My Baby by The Ronettes
Ooh, there goes the table! There was no need for that.
That was a good table, that. LAUGHTER
-OK, we can stop now, this is embarrassing.
-No, I'm enjoying it.
-He's so gorgeous, isn't he?
You think she's gorgeous, I'm sure, but... Yeah, no.
And then that was it. After... I then became this big Die Hard fan.
When he then decided to go into action movies, forget it!
That was it for me. But...
Yeah, he's just... He has that...
It's the humour.
It's the humour along with the fact that, you know,
he looked the way he looked, as well. It's just kind of...
And then he went into action. Finished, I'm done.
So did you watch this Moonlighting with your family?
Never in a million years.
I couldn't watch this show with them.
What sort of programmes were your parents strict about you watching?
Anything that involved a kiss.
-Well...up until about 15...
-So Moonlighting was definitely out.
Moonlighting was out! Moonlighting was, you know,
going to my friend's house after school, watching what she'd taped.
Going, "I'm studying, Mum, I'm doing my physics."
"(Oh, my God!)" You know.
So there was a lot of...
running to friends' places to watch certain stuff, whatever,
but that was just a general thing, because we...
You know, in India,
in all of the Bollywood films that we'd ever watched as a kid,
the people go close to kissing, but they don't ever touch lips.
-So we actually see people actually locked lips, you're like,
"Oh, my gosh! They actually did that!"
So if you were in the lounge, how would your mum and dad react
to you, if something was on that was a bit...
that there was a kiss involved, or a cuddle?
I would actually get up and leave.
-I would get embarrassed. I... I can't do it.
In fact, even as a grown-up, right,
if my kids, now... My kids are 12 and 8.
My daughter's there, I'm like... I put my hand over her eyes like that.
I just find it a bit funny.
I remember, again, when I was in EastEnders,
the press would ask me, "Do you let your kids watch the show?"
I would go "No!" It's too adult.
There's no way I would let my kids watch it.
And then, of course, newspaper: "Wadia bans children from TV!"
I'm like, "No, I don't ban them from TV."
-I just think it's too adult for them.
Moonlighting's David and Maddie
are one of countless TV couples
who've been the subject of a
Just Good Friends,
starring Paul Nicholas
and Jan Francis, featured two ex-lovers
who try to become friends long after they broke up.
But the old spark is still alive.
Love was in the air in the hit comedy series The Office.
played by Lucy Davis,
and sales rep Tim,
played by the future Hobbit star
Martin Freeman, finally got together in the 2003 Christmas special.
Volatile East End couple Kat and Alfie,
played by Jessie Wallace
and Shane Richie,
eventually got married
in the Queen Vic,
but their relationship has had its fair share of ups and downs
over the years.
Now, let's look at a show that has a very big influence on you.
And I think you're not alone in that.
It is, of course, Blackadder.
This period sitcom
followed the ill-fated exploits
of the ruthless and cynical
opportunist Edmund Blackadder,
and his hapless sidekick Baldrick.
The second series is set during the Elizabethan era.
It started in 1983.
-Would you believe? Yeah.
Baldrick is loyal, but very dim,
much to Blackadder's frustration.
If I have two beans,
and then I add two more beans...
..what do I have?
This scene is typical of the comedic relationship between the two.
Let's try again, shall we?
I have two beans.
Then I add two more beans.
What does that make?
A very small casserole.
Baldrick's declarations that he had hatched a "cunning plan"
were almost always the exact opposite.
One, two, three, four!
So, how many are there?
-And that one.
Three... And that one.
So if I add that one to the three,
-what will I have?
-Isn't it great?
-Love it! Just so clever.
-It's just so clever.
Towards the end of my teens
that was when a lot of British shows started coming over,
and I think one of the first ones I saw out there was Blackadder.
And I was just fascinated by this incredibly cruel man,
but he was so funny. I loved that he was cruel with it, and it...
-This, of course, is Rowan Atkinson.
-This is Rowan Atkinson.
And it just started to shape my sense of humour,
when I realised that...
the British sense of humour's more mine, which is slightly cruel.
But it's very witty, and very funny, and I love the use of sarcasm,
and irony, which I think I had anyway,
but I didn't know how to express it,
or I didn't think it was OK to express.
So, did you like the way they set the series in a different era?
-I think that was...
-That was so clever.
That was really clever.
In fact, to be honest, everything about that show was just genius.
It was absolutely spot on.
Obviously, Richard Curtis was part of the whole thing,
and I mean, Ben Elton's a huge part of that, isn't he?
-Oh, wonderful writer. Yeah.
So, that whole team of people, you know, so incredibly? clever.
The equivalent, I guess, of Saturday Night Live in the States, you know.
They have these groups of people that just...
-They just work.
And that was them.
Would you like to have been in it?
I would have loved to have been in it!
Who would you have liked to have played?
Ah... It would have to be Queenie.
It would just have to be.
-I mean, Miranda Richardson is just incredible.
I'm completely bored with explorers.
And if you haven't brought me
I'm going to have you executed!
Miranda Richardson's portrayal
of a cruel, immature Queen Elizabeth
was comedy gold.
Anyone who failed to keep the every petulant Queenie happy
faced certain execution.
-A most extraordinary gift from the island paradise we visited.
-What is it?
By her side was Stephen Fry, as grovelling advisor Lord Melchett,
one of Blackadder's biggest rivals.
If you throw it away...
it comes back!
That's no good, is it?
Because when I throw things away,
I don't want them to come back!
Now, Blackadder was famous for his fantastic descriptions and insults.
I'm going to read some out for you now.
Now, they're either all about Baldrick, George or Blackadder.
But which is which?
Who was thicker than a whale omelette?
Was it Prince George, Baldrick or Blackadder?
-Well done. She got that right, ladies and gentlemen.
Who's plans were as cunning as a fox who has just been appointed
Professor of Cunning at Oxford University?
-Baldrick, George or Blackadder?
It was Baldrick, correct.
Who was the least convincing female impressionist
since Tarzan went through Jane's handbag and ate her lipstick?
-Don't know! I really don't know.
-It was George.
-Lieutenant George, so you got one wrong, you got one wrong.
Who was as happy as a Frenchman who has invented
a pair of self-removing trousers?
Baldrick, George or Blackadder?
Final one - who was very amusing and brave as well,
not to mention being as clever as a chap with three heads?
-Baldrick, George or Blackadder?
-What did you say?
You got four out of five. Well done indeed, Nina.
-Well, here's a programme that you chose as your sneaky peek.
It's Benny Hill.
Benny Hill is one of the great success stories of TV comedy.
For over 35 years, his mix of slapstick
and suggestive humour was a huge hit.
I think the music was so...well, brilliant, iconic, wasn't it?
At its peak, his show was pulling in audiences of up to 20 million
and celebrities including Charlie Chaplin
and Clint Eastwood were said to be amongst his biggest fans.
Strangely, my parents would let me watch this with them
and I would always pretend I needed some water and run to the
kitchen when the girls took their clothes off and ran round the field.
Why are three girls hiding behind a tree?
-It is quite ridiculous, isn't it?
-So camp. I love it.
The most common running gag was the chase scene,
where Benny got himself into silly predicaments.
-Was it the innuendoes that used to make you laugh?
To be honest, his comic timing was brilliant.
It was just he's such a clever man.
So what other shows resonate with you at that age?
Um, Morecambe and Wise and, um, Tommy Cooper, I loved.
I loved that kind of... We used to say it's koylu.
Koylu, in our language means just, kind of, it's so corny
but it's so brilliantly delivered.
That's a good way of explaining it, yeah.
And that's what we'd say to my dad, "Oh, so koylu, Dad."
It was dad humour, but done so brilliantly you loved it.
The Two Ronnies.
See, I like words, I like language and Ronnie Barker,
-when he did all of his wordplay in his shows...
-Loved it, yeah.
-Fork handles and all of that stuff.
I LOVED it.
I thought that was so incredibly clever, and then to end up
being lucky, working with Sir David Jason now on Still Open All Hours.
With a picture of Ronnie Barker up there, I'm like,
"This is not happening, this is surreal."
It's things that I dreamed would happen are happening.
-So I feel incredibly blessed. Incredibly blessed.
-So, talking of your parents, let's have a look at your next choice.
-Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em.
Accident-prone Frank Spencer, played by Michael Crawford,
spends his life going from one calamity to the next.
-Started in 1973 and ran till 1978.
And this sequence, wasn't this all...? He did all of this himself.
Did his own stunts, yeah.
He's such a brave man. Oh, my gosh.
What a genius. Absolute genius. Here we go, here we go, here we go.
This incredible roller-skating scene is typical
of the sheer bad luck that Frank experiences in every episode.
-That took some doing, didn't it?
I can't bear it!
Betty! Betty, I've been articulated!
Look at that!
Now, Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em, it was very physical humour, wasn't it?
Yeah. And I love that.
-Was this a show that you all watched as a family?
-Yes. Yeah. Loved it.
Absolutely loved it. And, just, it made us laugh.
The put-upon character of the wife, Betty,
"Oh, he's going to do this again."
It's the quality of - I can't stop saying that enough -
it's the quality of the actor, their training,
and every single moment is made important. For me, it's details.
What do you think is required of a good comedy actor?
Detail. It's the detail. The littlest thing, the littlest look,
the littlest moment that you can find in anything that you do,
that's the genius.
That's the bit that's genius.
I mean, you've done both. You've done comedy acting,
-you've done straight acting.
-Do you think, what is the toughest?
-Comedy. By far.
I mean, look, I'm sitting next to,
I'm sorry, but an absolute legend here and your...
The skills that you guys have is incredible.
And I've learnt from that.
I've learnt from watching that and I believe I always will.
I'm not someone who sits back and goes, "Yeah, I can do that."
I can't. I'm always fascinated and always want to improve myself.
So, for me, it's that ability to be so quick off the mark
and know exactly...to pre-empt anything that's thrown at you.
It's amazing, absolutely amazing.
Was laughter a big thing?
I mean, did your dad have a good sense of humour?
Huge sense of humour.
My parents used to just throw really, really fun parties.
They had very fun, very loud friends.
And, as a kid, we were all allowed to muck in
with all the other friends and their kids and all of that.
But once it got to 9 and 10 o'clock, it's like,
"Off you go to bed" and then you'd hear just laughter the whole time.
And they'd play cards. And that's what I grew up with.
I grew up with just joy around me.
You know, which is a big thing.
-Oh, if you're a child, it's very important.
-Absolutely, it is.
Frank Spencer is one in a long line of hilarious
accident-prone TV characters.
Whenever danger comes near,
you could always depend on Lance Corporal Jones to deliver
his notorious catchphrase, "Don't panic!"
Whilst doing just that.
Last Of The Summer Wine's Compo, played by Bill Owen,
was often the guinea pig for the boys' latest harebrained scheme.
He would go to any length to impress the disinterested Nora Batty.
Basil Fawlty, played by the brilliant John Cleese
had an uncanny knack of turning a simple task into an almighty fiasco.
The ever-optimistic Del Boy's mantra of "He who dares"
rarely paid off.
Lucrative jobs, like removing a priceless chandelier,
often ended in disaster.
Now, Nina, we're moving on to a show that made you feel
just a little bit sad.
Behold, the dreaded sponge.
There's a young Nicholas Lyndhurst there.
And, of course, the lovely Wendy Craig.
Butterflies, penned by The Liver Birds writer Carla Lane, was about
a woman trying to escape the boredom and monotony of family life.
Slight problem with her meals, didn't she?
Could not cook to save her life.
It would appear that Adam has got all the custard.
Sorry! Thought it might pour.
Not my custard, Adam.
You should know by now that my custard is unpredictable.
-She is the ultimate character to play.
Cos she's funny, but deep inside she's sad.
-I mean, you're laughing now, but at the time, this was TV tears.
Because I felt for her, especially when she meets the other guy.
Nothing really happens with them,
but she meets him and she really wants that other life too.
That's the thing with women generally - we want it all.
We want the love, but we want the excitement of the affair,
but we want our career, but we want children.
We want it all and that lady there, that's who she was playing.
So she has this family unit, she loves them,
but she thinks something's missing.
She wants that excitement of another romance
or the excitement of something else.
I look in the mirror, and I think... I think...
Go on, tear those to pieces while you tell me what you think.
A lot of these things that I've seen,
I've always been interested in watching how the women play it,
because there were never that many women doing the kind of comedy
that I would aspire to,
so when you had people like Wendy Craig come along,
or you had Miranda Richardson creating her character,
you got, "Oh, yeah, there is a possibility. I can do it."
Now, Nina, it's time to move on to your big break -
Goodness, Gracious, Me.
-Get some tea.
-Oh, no, no, no. No need.
I made this at home, for nothing!
-Now, about the wedding...
-Yes. Do you have any thoughts on the venue?
Yes. I thought...we'll make it at home for nothing.
One of Nina's most memorable characters
was the embarrassingly frugal mother,
Mrs "I can make it at home for nothing!"
You think weddings are all free booze and fancy gifts
and # Come On Eileen # ? Hm?
-Are you sure that this is going to be...?
-Yes, of course.
Why waste money, when you can make it at home for nothing?
Now, I thought, as a bridal outfit, I would give your daughter
this sari which my mother gave to me on her death bed.
-So who inspired that one?
My mum! Obviously, my mum.
And the reason was - I'll explain this - when we'd go out
to dinner or something, Mum would go, "Where are we going?"
And if you said, I don't know, "A pasta restaurant." "Pasta?!
"I can make it at home in two minutes here!"
You'd go, "Yes, but, Mum, every pasta you make has a chilli to it,
"so I'd rather go to an Italian restaurant."
So that's where that came from. Mum was not too pleased.
-Great time, though?
-Yeah. Best time.
We laughed, from morning to night, just laughed, making this,
because it's our experiences.
It's our experiences of being an immigrant in this country
and what it's like. That was my first proper TV.
I'd been a theatre girl up till that point.
I was doing loads of Shakespeare and that was my kind of thing.
Then we made a one-off series, on radio, and the next thing
we knew, they said, "It's not just radio, we're going on TV."
And I went, "I don't have any TV experience."
So what you see there is my first foray properly on TV.
Was you surprised at how huge it became?
I'm still surprised how huge it became.
I was just happy that, kind of, Indian people laughed at this show.
I thought that's what it was going to be,
was something for the Indian community.
It didn't even occur to me that people understood what
we were trying to do, you know, and then it went worldwide after that.
Just it went crazy and people, I think people just related
to the characters themselves,
not necessarily the fact that they were Indian characters.
There was an event we were invited to with the Greek community
in North London and they said, "You're an honorary Greek."
The same thing happened, we went to a Jewish event,
"You're an honorary Jew.
"We have Jewish mums who are like the competitive mums."
So every community felt like they knew someone there
and it was humour that kids could watch, right up to grandparents.
-And so it worked.
-So obviously you then moved on to EastEnders.
I'd never seen the show before. I'm not a soap fan, at all.
So, for me, that was a big thing. I was called in.
Neither my agent or myself had mentioned
to the casting director and the exec at the time that I was pregnant.
I was eight months pregnant when I went for the meeting,
and I thought, "This is odd. Surely they... Why are they seeing me?
"It's not like I can start next week."
And it was a shock for them when I walked in the door. They went, "Oh!
"We need you to start straightaway." And I said, "Not going to happen."
-So I thought, you know, "Job's gone away."
Um, then my son was five weeks old and they rang and said,
"Can you start next week?"
And, you know, because we'd talked about a character that
I would create, and they said, "What kind of thing would you like?"
And they told me what THEY wanted.
The brief was "Pauline Fowler, but funny."
Now, I'd, of course, known of Pauline Fowler.
Even if you don't watch a show, everyone knows,
like, you know who Ian Beale is, even if you don't watch it.
So, I thought, "She's really grumpy. Grumpy old woman. How do I do that?"
So, of course, I asked my husband,
"How do I create a character who's a grumpy old woman, but funny?"
He went, "Just be yourself."
-I said, "All right, then!"
-We're going to take a little look.
Here we are.
-I'm glad for the good times.
-Oh, there were good times?
That was very funny. Ha, ha.
I'm glad for them too, Mas.
This is the moment that Nina's character Zainab
and husband Masood finalise their divorce.
-So, should we...shake hands, or...?
-I don't know. Do we?
Gosh. Oh. Eurgh. Yuck.
I mean, I've known Nitin for so...
I've known him longer than my own husband.
He's played my husband in so many other things,
so we kind of knew each other a lot before we worked together,
so it was very easy working with him
and it was very easy to find that couple and that family.
It was very, very good.
And on Enders, they made fun of us,
because we actually hung out together as a family.
So you were there for six years. How difficult was it to say goodbye?
-Was it your decision?
-My decision. And very hard.
-Why did you make that decision?
-I was missing my kids.
It's very long hours, long days.
I was really missing them and I thought, "No, I need to go away.
"I need to freshen up."
And if they ever want her back, I would go back but with force.
I'd go in and just be funny again and stick to that side,
-because I enjoyed that side of her.
So, Nina, what sort of TV do you like watching these days?
What do you enjoy?
Um, again, sticking with the comedy theme, but slightly different,
I was saying Modern Family is one of the ones that we can watch.
We tend to kind of, for evening telly viewing or a Saturday night
or something, we tend to watch something
that the kids will enjoy too, but that's funny.
I'm doing a lot more documentary watching.
You know, the kind of biopics of rock stars
and a bit more grown-up stuff, grown-up TV.
My guest obviously gets a chance to pick a theme tune for us
-to play out on.
-What's it going to be?
-Oh, it's a tough choice.
I'm going to go with Dukes Of Hazzard.
-OK, so it's going to be The Dukes Of Hazzard.
-My thanks to you, Nina.
-Thank you so much.
-Thank you so much.
-You've been an absolute joy
to have a little chat with today. So, my thanks to Nina
and my thanks to you for watching The TV That Made Me.
We'll see you next time, bye-bye.
MUSIC: Theme from The Dukes Of Hazzard (Good Ol' Boys)
Former EastEnders star Nina Wadia joins Brian on the sofa to take a look back at the classic television that made her the person she is today.
First up, Brian winds back the clock with an episode of The A Team, before we rekindle Nina's love for another American classic, Moonlighting, featuring a young Bruce Willis. Brian then surprises Nina with a clip from Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em, a show that had a big influence on her. We round up by discussing her big break on legendary sketch show Goodness Gracious Me and her time as Zainab Masood on EastEnders.
Nina talks openly about her childhood and the shows that inspired her to become the much-loved actor she is today.