Romesh Ranganathan is making a travelogue for BBC Three exploring his Sri Lankan roots.
The comic has cancelled his Edinburgh Fringe run so he can film the six-part series, which has the working title Romesh’s Return Ticket.
He announced the series on social media, tweeting: ‘Pleased to be able to announce that I am being deported for a new series for @bbcthree.’
The premise is that Ranganathan, who was born in Crawley with the first name Jonathan, is being sent by his mother to Sri Lanka to become ‘the good Tamil boy’ she hoped he’d be, despite not speaking the language and being entirely ignorant of his heritage.
Each episode will involve Ranganathan travelling to meet one of his family’s Sri Lankan friends or distant relations to take part in traditional rituals and customs, all planned by his mum.
He said: ‘I am both excited and nervous to be exploring the country of my heritage. My mum has long been frustrated with my lack of cultural understanding, and I am looking forward to her finally telling me that she loves me.’
The comic, whose surname is said with an anglicized pronunciation, has previously joked about his parents scolding him for not speaking their mother tongue, despite it being they who failed to teach him.
And he told Chortle: ‘My parents wanted my name to be Romesh and they called me that from the very beginning. Yet they gave me the first name Jonathan because they thought it would make it easier in England.
‘It’s bonkers but that’s exactly what happened. By the time my brother rolled around, they realised it was insanity, so they just gave him Dinesh.’
Romesh’s Return Ticket is being made for BBC Three by Rumpus, who recently produced Channel 4’s An Immigrant’s Guide To Britain, featuring Henning Wehn and Mark Silcox.
Nominated for the Edinburgh Comedy Award last year, Ranganathan has become a familiar face on panel shows like Mock The Week, Stand Up For The Week and aChannel 4’s recent Election Night coverage.
But Romesh’s Return Ticket is his first television vehicle.
Iain Wimbush, executive producer for Rumpus, said: ‘Romesh is a huge talent and it’s an absolute privilege to be working with him on such a personal project. This is a series where the rules of the traditional travelogue go out the window as his guides won’t be fixers and guide books – they’ll be his own Sri Lankan family … who he neither knows nor understands. We’re very excited; he’s terrified.’
Ed Sleeman, commissioning editor for BBC Entertainment, added: ‘We are delighted to commission Romesh to front this show where the audience is really going to get to know one of the finest comedians in Britain. Across the series we will watch the man from Crawley explore his heritage in Sri Lanka… whether he likes it or not. I can’t wait to see what happens!’
Sleeman commissioned the show along with Damian Kavanagh, digital controller for BBC Three. (Courtesy Chortle.co.uk)