Lord Waheed Alli - Most powerful Asian media figure in UK

MUMBAI: Labour Peer Lord Waheed Alli has been named the most powerful British Asian in the UK media industry today.

Media publication Asian in Media (AIM) has come out with a top 20 list of the most powerful Asians in the UK media industry.

Actress Meera Syal who can be seen in India on Star World in the comedy The Kumars At Number 42 took the second spot. Syal's close involvement with the popular West End musical, Bombay Dreams, propelled her into the super-league. She made a small fortune from her stake in the production, writing the story and helping to take it across the Atlantic to New York.

Her first novel, Anita and Me, was turned into a movie and her second, Life Isn't All Ha Ha Hee Hee, is being made into a prime-time BBC1 drama.

The one of its kind list aims to celebrate the achievement of the Asian community in Britain's media as well as provide a partial snapshot of how diversified the industry has become. It will be published annually.

The list was compiled by AIM editor Sunny Hundal; BBC political correspondent Reeta Chakrabarti; ITV media and arts correspondent Nina Nannar; Guardian journalist Vikram Dodd and Pedro Carvalho, founder of FNik PR agency.

Hundal said, "This exercise proves that the media industry, especially press and advertising, still have a long way to go in truly reflecting Britain's population. However it also shows that there are quite a few powerful figures behind the scenes that sometimes don't get acknowledged.

"This list wasn't published merely to complain about the lack of diversity in the media industry. We want to show how far British Asians have come. It is important for us as British citizens to play a greater role in engaging with the media."

Seven of the entries are women while the same number are under the age of 40. Sham Sandhu, controller of music and live events at Five is the highest youngest entry at the age of 33. As controller of youth, entertainment and events, Sandhu is one of the top decision-makers at Five. He is responsible for the network's music and youth-oriented shows, and initially commissioned its now-ditched "adult" programming. Sandhu holds the dubious honour of bringing Chris Eubank to a wider audience by giving the former boxer his own reality show.

Tommy Nagra who works at the BBC as the executive producer at Asian programmes unit also finds a place. Nagra produces the BBC's flagship Asian entertainment series Desi DNA, and other programmes for BBC2, BBC3 and BBC4. He makes programmes for a mainstream audience as well as Asian-orientated shows, and heads a sizeable team in Birmingham.

Another person representing the BBC is its Group finance director Zarin Patel.

With cost-cutting and efficiency at the top of the BBC's agenda, Patel is at the heart of shaping the future of the corporation. She is the first Asian woman to be such a senior manager at a British broadcaster.

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