BEST known for his role as the shopkeeper in Still Game, Sanjeev Kohli, has helped shape Asian characters in Scottish comedy.
MATTY SUTTON met the writer behind BBC Radio 4s Fags, Mags and Bags and one of our Glasgow Star Turn judges.
IN his airy West End flat, Sanjeev, 41, chats passionately about his love for the corner shop comedies that have shaped his career.
At the moment he is writing the fifth series of Fags, Mags and Bags, a comedy set in a Lenzie newsagents.
He said: "Most of the best comedies are about people who are trapped.
"If you work in a newsagents, you are trapped, if you want to go to the dentist you have to book it two years in advance and you have to find a member of your family to cover for you, because no one else will.
"So it is very much about being trapped."
The father of three was born in London but moved to Glasgow witjh his parents, dad Parduman, a teacher, and mother Kuldip, a social worker, when he was three.
He grew up in Bishopbriggs, with his two older brothers, Hardeep and Randeep, where his family ran a newsagents.
He said: "I used to help out and I have been obsessed with corner shops ever since and I always knew it would be a good situation for a comedy."
But Sanjeev was not always destined to be a comedian.
He studied medicine at Glasgow University for four months before swapping to a maths degree.
He graduated with at first class honours degree and started a PhD in London, before deciding it was not for him and returning to Glasgow.
He began his media career in 1994 when he was recruited to be a presenter on the multi-cultural magazine show Ghetto Blasting on Radio Scotland.
From there, comedy started to take over and he got involved in writing and producing Chewin' the Fat before being asked to play Navid in Still Game in 2002.
Sanjeev says Still Game was one of the highlights of his career.
He said: "What I like about Navid is that he is just funny, he is Asian and he is very visibly a Muslim in his late-50s, but he is just funny and sarcastic.
"I think Ford and Greg did a brilliant job, because when you are writing ethnic characters, you have to refer to their ethnicity, otherwise it's a cop out, but it is getting the balance – yes he is Asian, yes he is Muslim – but that is not the first thing he is, it's the sixth thing he is."
"The Scottish language and the Scottish dialect are very funny, and sometimes people need reminding of that.
"It is almost like repackaging Scotland for everyone and saying – you are funny."
Sanjeev based a lot of Navid's physical appearance on his dad.
He said: "It scares me when I watch it back how much like my dad I look, my dad is a turbanned Sikh, he is tall and quite imposing looking but when I get the beard on I look quite a lot like him.
"I took my dad to one of the screenings and kidded on that he was Navid and he signed a couple of autographs."
Big brother Hardeep, a comedian and presenter, has always encouraged Sanjeev to write.
Sanjeev said: "He used to tell me all through school that I should be writing.
"He used to do a school magazine and he got me to write a couple of things for it and said 'this is brilliant', but I never took it onboard because I was going to be a doctor.
"All through he has always been very encouraging, he always spotted it in me."
And Hardeep often writes Sanjeev into his own sketches.
He said: "He wrote Meet the Magoons, and he cast me as his brother.
"We have a chemistry and a shorthand and quite a similar sense of humour, we have hardly worked together but I would gladly do it again."
Fags, Mags and Bags is Sanjeev's main focus at the moment, and he hopes it will transfer to television.
He has also just recorded two tracks on a compilation album called Grand Gestures.
Sanjeev will be at King Tut's Wah Wah Hut next Friday to perform his two tracks alongside the other artists on the album.
He describes his 15 minute song, SW19, as a tennis ballad, set in Wimbledon, about a ball boy who falls in love with a tennis player.
Sanjeev added: "I like the idea of them being in this enclosed space with the world watching them but they are not allowed to look at each other.
"The girl had the second fastest serve in the women's game and the last shot is the fastest ever recorded in the women's game. She hits him on the head and knocks him out."
Tickets for the Grand Gestures gige are £7, for more info visit www.kingtuts.co.uk
HOW TO ENTER:
THERE is less than a week left to submit your entries for Glasgow's Star Turn.
With the closing date on Thursday May 31, the time has come to upload your video.
And all you need is a photo and a digital video of your act for your chance to take a shot at the big time.
Submitting your star turn is easy.
If you already have a digital video file that is under 100MB then you're all set.
Just go to www.stars.eveningtimes.co.uk and click 'How to Enter'. Fill in the form, click the 'choose file' or 'browse-' button to select your video and photo files, then hit submit.
Uploading can take a while – anything up to half an hour depending on the speed of your connection – so go and get a cup tea then come back to check you got the 'entry received' confirmation screen.
If you have a video file, but it's bigger than 100MB, you'll need to compress it. If you're using a PC then Windows Movie Maker can do this for you.
If you're on a Mac, use the export options in iMovie to make your file smaller.
If you have problems compressing your file the other option is to upload it to YouTube or Vimeo and we can grab it from there.
Just enter the competition as normal but put a note of your YouTube or Vimeo URL in the description field and put your picture in both the photo and video boxes so that it is accepted.
If you don't already have a video it's dead easy to make one.
Most digital cameras and mobile phones can record good quality video as an AVI, MPG, MOV or MP4 file. Simply copy that file to your computer as you would with a photo, then follow the instructions above.
Or if your phone supports direct upload to YouTube you can do that and simply follow the YouTube steps.
And finally, if none of those options work for you, YouTube has an option to record straight from a webcam.
Most laptops have a webcam built in, so it couldn't be easier – just go to YouTube, click Upload then follow the instructions.
Once your video is on YouTube come back and follow the instructions on entering via YouTube above.