Shobna Gulati

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Shobna Gulati
Shobna Gulati in 2012
Born (1966-08-07) 7 August 1966 (age 57)
Oldham, Lancashire, England
  • Actress
  • Television presenter
  • Writer
  • Dancer
Years active1991–present
Coronation Street
Doctor Who
Midsomer Murders
Inside No. 9
Anshu Srivastava
(m. 1990; div. 1994)
Children1 (Akshay Gulati)

Shobna Gulati DL (born 7 August 1966)[1] is an English actress and presenter. Gulati is known for her roles as Anita in dinnerladies, and Sunita Alahan in the soap opera Coronation Street from 2001 to 2013. From 2013 to 2014, Gulati appeared as a panellist on the lunchtime talk show Loose Women. She took over the role of Ray in the West End production of Everybody's Taking About Jamie in 2019 and also reprised the role for the movie adaptation. Most recently, she played the role of Mari Hoff in 2022 UK Tour of The Rise and Fall of Little Voice and is set to reprise the role of Ray in Everybody's Talking About Jamie for the 2023-2024 UK and Ireland Tour.[2]

Early life[edit]

Shobna Gulati in 2007

Gulati was born in Oldham, Lancashire, to Hindu Indian parents. She grew up in the Salcombe area of Openshaw, Manchester, where she became friends with actress Sarah Lancashire.[3] She has a degree in Arabic and Middle Eastern politics from the University of Manchester.[1]


One of Gulati's earliest appearances was as a dancer in the video for Boy George's 1991 single "Bow Down Mister". In the late 1990s, she appeared in both series of Victoria Wood's BBC sitcom dinnerladies. She appeared as Ameena Badawi from October to December 2000 in EastEnders. She appeared in Coronation Street as Sunita and in the same role in "East Street", a crossover between both soaps, as part of the 2010 Children In Need telethon. In 2001, she appeared in the short film Shadowscan, directed by Tinge Krishnan, which won a Bafta Award and, in 2004, was nominated for a Manchester Evening News theatre award for her work in the play Dancing Within Walls, which was staged at the Contact Theatre in Manchester.

Gulati has also appeared on the TV quiz shows Call My Bluff, Have I Got News for You, The Weakest Link, Russian Roulette and as Diana Ross in Celebrity Stars in Their Eyes. In early 2006, Gulati took part in the Reality TV series Soapstar Superstar.

After Gulati left Coronation Street for the first time in 2006, she played Nisha Clayton, a regular role in the final series of Where the Heart Is, and made appearances in New Street Law and the one-off comedy drama Magnolia, which was written by Dave Spikey for BBC's Comedy Playhouse series.

In October 2006, Gulati appeared at the Royal Albert Hall as part of a short skit featured in The Secret Policeman's Ball. In the sketch, Gulati and her co-star Nitin Ganatra play a holidaying couple who are under the mistaken belief Guantanamo Bay is a holiday resort. The sketch also starred the American actors Chevy Chase and Seth Green.

Gulati was one of the storytellers in a CBBC revival of Jackanory and in the UK tour of the hit play Girls Night by Louise Roche. She also appeared on the Channel 4 special Empire's Children, tracing her family's history during the partition of India. In summer 2007, she appeared in Pretend You Have Big Buildings at the Royal Exchange, Manchester.

In 2008, Gulati made her debut as a filmmaker, producing the short film Akshay for the motiroti's 60x60 Secs.[4] This was shortlisted for the Satyajit Ray short film awards. During this same period, she returned to her Coronation Street role as Sunita Alahan, where she stayed for three years.[5]

On 11 June 2009, Gulati appeared in the BBC1 programme Celebrity MasterChef. She did the first stage tour of dinnerladies in early 2009 and she has appeared as a guest story teller for Bedtime Stories on CBBC. Gulati made her Loose Women debut on 18 November 2010 to celebrate 50 years of Coronation Street, appearing with regulars Kate Thornton, Sherrie Hewson and Carol McGiffin. Gulati returned to the show on 11 April 2012 appearing alongside regulars Andrea McLean, Jane McDonald and Janet Street-Porter during soap week. Gulati returned to the show as a regular from 13 March 2013, taking over from Sally Lindsay who took time off to film Mount Pleasant, from September 2013, Gulati became an occasional panellist on the show, before leaving on 30 May 2014.

In June 2011, Gulati was a guest on Countdown. Announcing her departure from Coronation Street, she expressed her desire to write and perform more comedy than her work in a soap opera had permitted her time to do.[5] In 2016, she appeared in the ITV/Netflix series Paranoid. Gulati made a guest appearance in Casualty on 29 October 2016.

In 2017, she appeared as Saba in the British romantic comedy film Finding Fatimah.[6] In 2018, Gulati appeared in the Doctor Who episodes "Arachnids in the UK" and "Demons of the Punjab" as Najia Khan, mother of The Doctor's companion Yasmin Khan.[7]

Gulati played Ray in the West End production of Everybody's Talking About Jamie at the Apollo Theatre in 2018.[8] Now adapted as a screenplay, Gulati played the part of Ray alongside Sarah Lancashire. Everybody's Talking About Jamie was released on 17 September 2021.[9] In 2022, she led the company of The Rise and Fall of Little Voice as Mari Hoff, and starred in the show alongside her son Akshay.[10] Shobna is set to return on the 2023-2024 UK and Ireland Tour of the show reprising the role of Ray.[11]

Gulati wrote a memoir titled Remember Me? on losing a parent to dementia based on her experiences caring for her mother, who died in 2019.[12] During publicity interviews for the book, Gulati revealed that she had contracted Coronavirus earlier in 2020.[13]

In May 2021, Gulati starred as Vicky in the three-part comedy drama murder mystery series, Murder, They Hope.[14]

In December 2022, Gulati appeared as Posy in the Christmas special of BBC dark comedy Inside No. 9, "The Bones of St Nicholas".[15][16]

Personal life[edit]

Gulati is the daughter of K. A. Gulati who arrived in Oldham from Bombay, India, in 1960.[17] She has a younger brother, Rajesh, and two older sisters, Sushma and Hema.[17]

Gulati married the architect Anshu Srivastava in a Hindu ceremony on 10 November 1990; the couple divorced in May 1994.[18] Shobna lived separately from her husband and became pregnant.[19][20] From 1999 to 2003, Shobna was in a relationship with the ex-Emmerdale actor Gary Turner.[18]

Gulati has a working knowledge of six languages and is a vocal supporter of Asian women's rights and various anti-racism campaigns.[21] Shobna works on female body image issues.[22] Shobna is a supporter and a season ticket holder of Manchester United.[23]

In 2015, Shobna was appointed as a deputy lieutenant of Greater Manchester. This gives her the right to use the Post Nominal Letters "DL" for life.[24]

Shafilea Ahmed[edit]

Gulati was called in to join a murder hunt in December 2004 following the murder of Shafilea Ahmed. At a press conference appealing for more information about the teenager's death, Gulati read out some of the poems found in her bedroom by police during their investigations which "were a testimony to her sadness at being caught in a culture clash with other members of her family". After the reading, Gulati said that she believed they showed that Shafilea was trapped between two cultures. "It can be very difficult if you are born here but your parents were not and there can be a lot of cultural issues," she said. "It is a situation facing many young Asian women who are unable to express themselves properly within their families. I feel these words are the sort of style she would use when talking with her friends. If she is out there she should let people know she is safe because there are organizations and individuals who can help her."[25]

Gulati went on to say that she sympathized with the teenager's difficulty in balancing her culture with her upbringing. "She has obviously been unable to express herself in terms of her family and she probably talks like this to her friends, or has written these songs in private."[26]


Year Title Role Note
1998–2000 dinnerladies Anita 16 episodes
1999 Wetty Hainthropp Investigates Cafe assistant Television short
2000 EastEnders Ameena 6 episodes
2001 Shadowscan Satinda Short film
2001–2006, 2009–2013 Coronation Street Sunita Alahan 674 episodes
2006 New Street Law Salina Morris
Where the Heart Is Nisha Clayton 5 episodes
Magnolia Janice Television film
2007 Honey and Razor Blades Shanti Short film
2008 Coming Up Maya 1 episode
2011 Junkhearts Beth
2014 In The Club Fiona 5 episodes
2014–2017 Doctors Gina Kasana / Sujatha Shah 5 episodes
2017 Finding Fatimah Saba
2017–2018 River City Farah Khurana 9 episodes
2018 Hold the Sunset Desiree Episode: "Old Flames"
2018–2019 Treasure Champs Kari 28 episodes; Voice only
2018–2020 Doctor Who Najia Khan 4 episodes
2020 Adulting Shona Television film
On the Edge Andi Episode: "For You"
2021 Murder, They Hope Vicky 3 episodes
Celebrity Best Home Cook Herself Participant
Midsomer Murders Shaila Handsworth Episode: "For Death Prepare"
Going the Distance Vic Television film
2022 My Name is Leon Salma Television film
Hullraisers Nima
Inside No. 9 Posy Series 8 episode 1: "The Bones of St Nicholas"[27]



Commonwealth honours[edit]

Commonwealth honours
Country Date Appointment Post-nominal letters
 United Kingdom 9 March 2015 – present Deputy Lieutenant of Greater Manchester[28][29] DL


University degrees
Location Date University Degree
 England 1988 University of Manchester Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Arabic and Middle Eastern politics[30]
Honorary degrees
Location Date University Degree
 England 2006 University of Huddersfield Doctor of Letters (D.Litt)[31]


  1. ^ a b, Shobna Gulati official website
  2. ^
  3. ^ ITV GMB Lorraine, 15 September 2020 interview.
  4. ^ "60x60 Secs website". Archived from the original on 26 August 2008. Retrieved 15 August 2008.
  5. ^ a b "Coronation Street actress Shobna Gulati to quit soap". BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat. 31 October 2012.
  6. ^ "Finding Fatimah official website". Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  7. ^ Jeffery, Morgan (23 October 2018). "Shobna Gulati on playing Yaz's mum and facing down spiders in Doctor Who: "I'm an arachnophobe!"". Digital Spy.
  8. ^ "Shobna Gulati joins cast of Everybody's Talking About Jamie". What's on Stage. 20 April 2018.
  9. ^ Darvill, Josh (10 August 2021). "Everybody's Talking About Jamie film release date, cast and full trailer". Stage Chat. Retrieved 25 November 2021.
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ ITV GMB Lorraine interview, 15 September 2020.
  13. ^ "Shobna Gulati: 'I've played the Queen, Thatcher and the Virgin Mary – on radio'". The Guardian. 16 September 2020.
    - "Coronation Street's Shobna Gulati details 'terrible' Covid-19 battle as she says her body 'gave up'". OK!.
  14. ^ "Murder, They Hope". Retrieved 22 May 2021.
  15. ^ Rees, Jasper (22 December 2022). "Inside No 9, review: there was an unexpected ghost at this macabre Christmas feast". The Telegraph. Retrieved 30 April 2023.
  16. ^ "Inside No. 9: The Bones of St Nicholas". BBC. Retrieved 30 April 2023.
  17. ^ a b Fletcher, Rebecca (19 January 2002). "The little man in my life". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 31 August 2016.
  18. ^ a b Staff writer (13 November 2003). "She was just 24 when she wed in a Hindu's part of her". Sunday Mirror.[dead link]
  19. ^ Staff writer (16 May 2009). "Shobna Gulati: I still can't look at myself in a full-length mirror". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 31 August 2016. I married this British Indian guy who I met at a wedding but we were separated within a year. It was an acrimonious split. Basically, I was too young to get married. Then I met Akshay's father in London. I was 28 when I became pregnant we split up. I didn't want to have a termination so I decided to go ahead and have the baby.
  20. ^ "No Regrets For Shobna Gulati". FemaleFirst. She told Scotland's Sunday Mail newspaper: "It can take over your life. People began to treat me as Sunita. My son is now 15 but when I was in dinner ladies he was only three...."
  21. ^ Wylie, Ian (22 November 2004). "Shobna Gulati just can't relax". Manchester Evening News.
    - Marsden, Carl (4 March 2009). "Shobna: Girls are not second class citizens". Oldham Advertiser.
  22. ^ Nikki Bedi (presenter), Shobna Gulati (guest) (9 December 2009). Nikki Bedi (Radio) (BBC Asian Network ed.). BBC. Retrieved 31 August 2016.
  23. ^ "Shobna Gulati on Glasgow's food, football and New River City role". Glasgow Live. 5 November 2017. Apart from planning a trip to the Oran Mor's smash hit long-running afternoon theatre experience, A Play A Pie and A Pint, the lifelong Manchester United supporter, and season ticket holder has been getting to grips with her other favorite pastime.
  24. ^ "Flying the flag for Oldham". The Oldham Evening Chronicle. 4 March 2015.
    -}}[permanent dead link]
  25. ^ "Street star joins murder hunt". Manchester Evening News. 12 August 2004. Archived from the original on 5 May 2013. Retrieved 27 January 2021.
  26. ^ "Hidden angst of 'trapped' teenager". BBC News. BBC. 11 January 2008. Retrieved 26 January 2013.
  27. ^ "Inside No. 9 Christmas special 2022". Retrieved 14 December 2022.
  28. ^ "Deputy Lieutenant Commissions | the Gazette".
  29. ^ "Shobna Gulati". The Manchester Lieutenancy. Retrieved 13 April 2022.
  30. ^ "University of Manchester Alumni Magazine June 2011". The University of Manchester. Retrieved 13 April 2022.
  31. ^ "Honorary awards are a recognition of national and international success". The University of Huddersfield. Retrieved 13 April 2022.

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