How we use Cookies

What's On

Your guide to everything in Birmingham

Husband-and-wife team to become BBC WM's first high profile British-Asian presenters

BBC WM will have a brand new sound from next week. Graham Young reports

Sunny and Shay Grewal, the new afternoon double act on BBC WM.
Sunny and Shay Grewal, the new afternoon double act on BBC WM.

Their names make them sound like a 1960s’ US pop act.

And it would be as easy to get them as mixed up as Ant and Dec and forget which one’s which.

But Sunny & Shay – who is not to be confused with Aston Villa’s goalkeeper because she’s the pretty one – are about to become BBC WM’s first high profile British-Asian presenters.

The chatterbox husband-and-wife team first made their name six years ago by taking part in Channel 4’s documentary series The Family.

From Monday they will be stepping up to go full-time in the afternoons after impressing BBC WM station boss Gareth Robert, first on the BBC Asian Network and with their continuing Sunday evening show on BBC London.

Danny Kelly will switch to mornings in place of the departing Adrian Goldberg.

The timing of their appointment is extraordinary, given that it will be 50 years ago next month since pop’s most famous couple Sonny & Cher released their first notable single, Baby Don’t Go.

Another coincidence is that while Sonny Bono was 11 years older than Cher, 38-year-old Sunny is nine years older than Shay, 29.

The fact that they are married is old news as far as WM is concerned.

Previous married couples on the station include Tony Wadsworth and Julie Mayer (also with a nine-year age difference and now at BBC Leicester) and current stars Adam Bridge and Caroline Martin, who have five children.

BBC WM sells itself as a station for ‘Birmingham and the Black Country’.

But its catchment area might be widening soon – Sunny and Shay Grewal have extended families in Wolverhampton, Coventry, Staffordshire and Leicester, too.

Not bad considering they’ve discovered both families knew each other in Kenya 60 years ago.

Sunny says: “We’ve loved working in London where we are from, but we have so much more family here.

“We though we might get offered a late night show, so its a shock and exciting to be asked to do afternoons – the kind of thing we’ve wanted since day one.”

The couple say they were determined to live locally so they could concentrate on their Monday to Thursday afternoon show.

“There was never any question of us driving up and down,” says Shay.

“We’ll be living close to the Mailbox right here in the heart of the Midlands.

“We want to immerse ourselves and be a part of everything.”

Sunny adds: “Birmingham is such a cool, young city and so fashionable.”

Sunny and Shay Grewal on their wedding day.
Sunny and Shay Grewal on their wedding day.

The couple have been together for 11 years and celebrate their relationship on the eighth of every month.

They were married in a registry office ten years ago on August 8 and had a proper Indian wedding five years ago... on August 8.

Sunny’s original proposal was on February 8, so on the eighth of every month the couple always do something special to cement their relationship further.

Shay is a Sikh who was also baptised as a Roman Catholic. Convent educated to ‘A’ Level, she says: “I started off in human resources but always wanted to go into journalism.

“I was taught that I could achieve anything I wanted to.”

Sunny says: “University didn’t suit me.

“I wanted to go into films and entertainment but I realised it’s not an easy route, particularly if you want to make money.

“I was at Ealing Tertiary College when I fell in love with radio while working with the police on a four-week radio restricted licence service (RSL).

“I started to write radio plays and was trying to get them submitted, then I was on my way to New York Film School when I met Shay.

“I thought I would let her finish university – Shay has a BA in Sociology and an MA in Comparative World Studies – and then pursue her later on!”

The couple have been working on an online sitcom at sunnyandshay.com and say Asian TV already wants to air the short episodes which are on You Tube.

One mini-film called Angry Dad features lines like: “Who the hell washed these jeans when they are dry clean only. Are you trying to make me look like a tramp all of my life. Can’t you read, it says ‘Dry clean only’. Are you on crack?”

“We try to capture comedic moments and already have an audience of 50,000,” says Sunny.

Is Birmingham’s own Adil Ray an inspiration, the Radio 5 Live presenter turned Citizen Khan creator and star?

“Yes, but he’s done so well we haven’t seem him for more than a year just because of work,” says Sunny.

“Our own inspirations go further back to shows like Eastern Eye and Goodness Gracious Me.

“We don’t look at comedy as being Asian, black or white. Just what makes us laugh.

“Everyone loves shows like Open All Hours and Only Fools and Horses.

“Ricky Gervais is a big influence, too.

“Someone like him changes the language.

“We are British, but our ethnicity plays a part. We love curry like everyone else.”

Lenny Henry was recently complaining about the under-representation of ethnic minorities on the BBC. How have Sunny and Shay broken through?

Sunny and Shay in the C4 documentary series The Family
Sunny and Shay in the C4 documentary series The Family
 

“Lenny wasn’t saying it on a light note because there was a reason for this conversation to be had,” says Sunny.

“But it should always be the best person for the job.

“Look at Archie Panjabi (a London actress who starred in Pebble Mill’s comedy Grease Monkeys).

“She’s now doing well in the US in The Good Wife.

“Our new boss Gareth Roberts just told us that he needs great presenters with great personalities.”

But enough of the serious stuff... who wears the trousers in the Grewal household?

“Shay is all over the kitchen,” says Sunny.

“TV control? I’m normally quite good at that.”

Shay adds: “We are both equal, but he doesn’t cook. Toast is not cooking.”

“It is!” Sunny insists.

“We don’t actually get on,” laughs Shay. “We have opposite opinions on everything.”

Sunny adds: “We are always challenging each other. She loves romantic films, for example, I hate them.

“I like any Bollywood film with Amitabh Bachchan and from Hollywood love Tom Cruise and Tarantino.”

Shay says: “I’m a big supporter of British film, things like Love Actually, Bond and smaller independent films.

“We’ve done red carpet events with Tom Hardy, Bradley Cooper and Angelina Jolie and one film we’ve seen which will be really good this autumn will be What We Did On Our Holiday, with Billy Connolly and David Tenant.

“Sunny has always encouraged me to have my own friends and has had three holidays without me.”

Sunny quips: “I’m all alone because Shay has scared all of my friends away. Who has called me in the last two years?”

Shay lost her father 13 years ago and a nephew was born during The Family.

One day, the couple hope to have children.

Referencing their new job, Shay says: “Nothing can stop (babies) from happening.

“If it’s the right time, it’s the right time if you are in the right frame of mind.”

But Sunny says he’s not yet ready to reproduce. One show at a time...

“At the moment I have so much the mind of a child,” he laughs.

“People often say to us that ‘we didn’t expect you to be so down to Earth.

“But we don’t know any other way to be.”

Sunny’s mother was from India and his Punjabi Sikh grandfather was awarded the St George’s Cross.

“His identity was with a turban, but taught us that you have to respect the city that you’re in,” says Sunny.

Fellow married radio presenters Tony Wadsworth and Julie Mayer
Fellow married radio presenters Tony Wadsworth and Julie Mayer
 

Shay is Punjabi Kenyan.

“We are spiritual people and we want to learn about it and to understand it,” she says.

“My father was a Kenyan officer in Nairobi and Mombasa.

“We’ve discovered that Sunny’s grandma and my aunt were families who knew each other in Kenya 50 or 60 years ago.

“Slowly, our children will become more British.

“Even now we are more British than Indian.”

Sunny adds: “I don’t recognise myself in India.

“It’s a grey area for me.

“If countries accommodate you, you have to be grateful for that.

“You are British, you will sit and watch television just like us. That’s what people really affiliated with us when they watched The Family.”

One reason why Sunny didn’t end up with two degrees like Shay is that he’s dyslexic – but it’s the thing that Shay loves the most about him.

“He is amazing with his voice, because he has lapses if he’s reading a script,” she says.

“The fact that he is so creative is the most beautiful thing about him.”

Who drives if they are going out together?

Sunny says: “I don’t trust Shay to drive me.

“She suffers from car narcolepsy. Within five minutes she is dribbling.”

Despite their celebrations on the eighth of every month, Sunny never buys Shay flowers.

“I won’t get her something that is going to die,” he says “I’d rather buy Shay jewellery – or something long lasting.”

So there they are. Sunny & Shay.

We’ve got them, babes.

Fellow married radio presenters Caroline Martin and Adam Bridge
Fellow married radio presenters Caroline Martin and Adam Bridge
 

MR AND MRS

To test the couple’s theory that they disagree about everything, I asked each of them to take a blind test about whether they prefer Wizzard or Slade; Led Zeppelin or Judas Priest; UB40 or Steel Pulse, Ruby Turner or Joan Armatrading and Duran Duran or ELO.

Here’s what they said, agreeing on three out of the five choices.

SHAY

Wizzard

Led Zep

UB40

Ruby Turner

Duran Duran

SUNNY

Slade

Led Zep

UB40

Ruby Turner

ELO

Journalists

Graeme Brown
Editor (Agenda and Business)
Enda Mullen
Business Reporter
Tamlyn Jones
Business Reporter
Neil Elkes
Local Government Correspondent
Emma McKinney
Education Correspondent
Ben Hurst
News Editor
Jonathan Walker
Political Editor