Queen's favorite sitcom—BBC veteran reveals closely guarded secret

The Queen's favorite sitcom—'I’ve kept this exclusive story secret for 21 years,' says former Radio 2 editor Phil Jones on his retirement

Queen Elizabeth II attends the Out-Sourcing Inc. Royal Windsor Cup polo match and a carriage driving display by the British Driving Society at Guards Polo Club, Smith's Lawn on July 11, 2021 in Egham, England.
(Image credit: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

The Queen's favorite sitcom has been revealed by recently retired BBC Radio 2 editor, Phil Jones. The retired broadcaster explained the reason he's kept this secret so long and the hilarious conversation he shared with Her Majesty back in 2001.


Although the Queen may be known for her steely demeanor and stiff upper lip, the head of the Royal Family is also known for her dry sense of humor. What's lesser-known, however, is her viewing habits—until now that is.

Recently retired BBC Radio 2 editor Phil Jones described an interaction he had with the Queen, during a press event in Buckingham Palace in 2001. 

Phil wrote about his experience in the New Statesman (opens in new tab), explaining why he kept schtum about the incident in question for so long. "Well, I’ve kept this exclusive story secret for 21 years after I was told by a BBC executive that, on pain of death, journalists should never reveal their conversations with the monarch." 

Then, he spilled the beans on the what, where, and why this whole story came to be. "In 2001 I was invited to a media function at Buckingham Palace," he explained. 

Despite the ease with which Her Majesty was chatting to her guests, Phil had a bit of a moment. "We chatted for ages, which I can tell you is rather surreal. My brain kept saying, 'Bloody hell I’m talking to the Queen and I can’t think of a single thing to say!'"

As his mind flitted over different questions to ask, he finally came to the idea of a fairly banal but insightful question, “what’s your favorite program?”

"Straightaway, she said, 'The Kumars at No 42' and, even more astonishingly, proceeded to recite some of the one-liners from the grandma character, played by the brilliant Meera Syal."

The show in question was a hit BBC comedy series about Asian chat-show host Sanjeev Kumar, played by Sanjeev Bhaskar, who lives and works at home with his family. It was a spin off of the enormously successful sketch show Goodness Gracious Me. 

The show featured lots of celebrity guests including Olivia Coleman, Phil Collins, and Donny Osmond. The series ran for seven seasons and won an International Emmy and a Peabody Award.

In response to the news that he had a high-profile fan, Sanjeev tweeted, "I couldn't possibly comment."

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Considering  the Queen has COVID, here's hoping she's taking the downtime to recover and catching up on her favorite shows.

Aoife is Junior News Editor at woman&home.

She's an Irish journalist and writer with a background in creative writing, comedy, and TV production.

Formerly Aoife was a contributing writer at Bustle and her words can be found in the Metro, Huffpost, Delicious, Imperica, EVOKE and her poetry features in the Queer Life, Queer Love anthology.

Outside of work you might bump into her at a garden center, charity shop, hot yoga studio, lifting heavy weights, or (most likely) supping/eating some sort of delicious drink/meal.