Hardeep Singh Kohli

Hardeep Singh Kohli

Kohli in 2015
Born 21 January 1969
London, England
Residence London, England
Nationality British
Alma mater University of Glasgow
Occupation Broadcaster
Relatives Sanjeev Kohli (brother)

Hardeep Singh Kohli (born January 1969[1]) is a British broadcaster and writer of Sikh heritage who has appeared on radio and television.


Kohli was born in London and moved to Glasgow in Scotland when he was four.[2] His parents came to Britain from India in the 1960s. The family's roots lie in the Punjab. His mother was a social worker, and his father a teacher, then a property landlord.[2] His first school was Hillhead Primary School in the West End of Glasgow, after which he attended Meadowburn Primary.

At age eight, he moved to St. Aloysius College, a private Roman Catholic school in central Glasgow. Kohli studied Law at the University of Glasgow.[3]

While studying, Kohli worked in a few restaurants and began working as an usher at the Citizens Theatre.[4]



After leaving university Kohli joined the BBC Scotland graduate production trainee scheme.[5] He moved to BBC Television Centre, London, to direct children's TV, and Janet Street-Porter's series Reportage. He was one of the directors of It'll Never Work, which won awards from the Royal Television Society and BAFTA. Kohli left the corporation in 1996 to begin working independently.[6] He wrote, directed and starred in Channel 4's Meet the Magoons in 2004,[7] which was axed after one series after a poor reception. Nancy Banks Smith and A. A. Gill were lukewarm; and while the show was entered for a Golden Rose at the Montreux Comedy Festival it was unplaced. Kohli presented a documentary In Search of the Tartan Turban, which explored cultural identity as a Briton and a Scot belonging to an ethnic minority. The producers won a children's BAFTA and produced a brief Channel 4 daytime schools series, Hardeep Does... that covered a variety of topical issues including sex, religion and pets.[8]

In September 2006, Kohli took part in the first series of BBC One's Celebrity MasterChef programme, reaching the final along with Roger Black and the ultimate winner, Matt Dawson. In January 2007, he had a three-part series on Channel 4, £50 Says You'll Watch This, exploring gambling. The show involved Kohli taking part in a celebrity card game, visiting casinos in Las Vegas. In October 2006, February 2007 and January 2009 he appeared on the BBC political panel programme Question Time, and was an occasional presenter on Newsnight Review, Saturday Live on BBC Radio 4 and Loose Ends.

In 2008 Kohli presented a cookery series for UKTV with John Torode and participated in a celebrity edition of The Apprentice to raise money for charity.[9] Sport Relief Does The Apprentice was part of the BBC's annual charity initiative Sport Relief and aired on 12 and 14 March 2008. He was the first Celebrity Apprentice to be "fired". He also appeared on Gordon Ramsay: Cook Along Live. He appeared in the Scottish segment of the BBC's 2008 Children in Need appeal, anchored by Jackie Bird and Des Clarke. Also in 2008, Kohli filmed a documentary about Scientology, mainly the so-called Free Zone, titled The Beginner's Guide to L. Ron Hubbard. The documentary is presented as a road trip, in which he travels from London via East Grinstead, Moscow and Munich to an undisclosed Russian location of a Ron's Org training camp.

Kohli was the presenter for series two of CBBC game show Get 100. In June 2009, he was one of five volunteers who took part in a BBC series of three programmes Famous, Rich and Homeless about living penniless on the streets of London.[10] In August 2013, he presented an edition of The Food Programme on Radio 4, about his fondness for bacon and the production of bacon in Scotland. Kohli also appears quite frequently as a panellist on The Wright Stuff on Channel Five. He stood in for Matthew Wright (the host presenter) while Wright was recovering from a back operation.[11]


From 2007 to 2009 Kohli wrote Hardeep is your Love, a column for Scotland on Sunday,[12] on topics that mainly concerned food and family and being ashamed of enjoying Harry Potter.[13] 'Kohli was put forward for Scottish press awards as a columnist twice, but was never placed. In 2009 the column was axed.

Kohli occasionally writes for The Guardian and The Independent.


Hardeep Singh Kohli performing at Isle of Arts 2012, in Ventnor, Isle of Wight.

In August 2009 Kohli performed a one-man show, The Nearly Naked Chef (a reference to Jamie Oliver's The Naked Chef), at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.[14] The show received mixed reviews from local and national press. According to The Guardian, "the impression is of a man who has wrongly assumed that comedy is as easy as it looks. It isn't, as Kohli proves".[15]


Kohli has written a book about food and travel in India, Indian Takeaway (2008), described by The Guardian as 'likeable but clumsy'.[16] Also in 2008, Kohli was a judge for the Man Booker Prize.

Personal life

Kohli is the father of two children – he was divorced in 2009 from Sharmilla Kohli. His younger brother is the successful film and TV actor and writer Sanjeev Kohli.[2][17]


As a landlord

In June 2008, The Herald reported: "Properties owned and rented by comedian Hardeep Singh Kohli have been branded 'grubby and dirty' and substandard as the celebrity was issued with warnings over his conduct as a landlord. Mr Kohli... was also denied three-year licences for two flats which are part of a raft he owns and leases through his father's company in Glasgow's west end." [18][19]

Suspension from the BBC's The One Show

In July 2009, Kohli was suspended from his roving reporter role on The One Show after an informal complaint by a female member of staff for inappropriate sexual behaviour. He apologised unreservedly. No formal action was taken by the BBC and the story was leaked to the newspapers.[20] It was said in March 2010 that it was possible he could return to the show but he never appeared again.[21]

Political views

Support for Scottish Independence

Kohli wrote and spoke in support of the campaign for a 'yes' vote in the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence, appearing at the rallies for Scottish independence on 22 September 2012 and on 21 September 2013 in Edinburgh.[22]

Kohli returned to Scotland prior to the referendum in order to take a prominent role in the Yes campaign but, when media opportunities were not forthcoming, he returned to London and participated in some media from his London base. Kohli joined the Scottish National Party in November 2014 after the independence referendum.


  1. "Pick of the Week: 23/01/11". Pick of the Week. 2011-01-23. Event occurs at 18.15–19.00. BBC. BBC Radio 4.
  2. 1 2 3 "Relative Values: Hardeep Singh Kohli and his brother Sanjeev". London: The Times. 26 August 2007. Retrieved 6 March 2010.
  3. Sale, Jonathan – "The Independent: Passed/Failed – Hardeep Singh Kohli" 8 September 2005
  4. Sale, Jonathan – "The Independent: My First Job: Hardeep Singh Kohli, comedy writer, was a theatre usher" 28 June 2007
  5. "Hardeep Singh Kohli-newsnight review". BBC 2. 9 September 2005. Retrieved 6 March 2010.
  6. "Take a walk on the W1 side". London: The Guardian. 2 June 2007. Retrieved 6 March 2010.
  7. "The hosts-Meet the Magoos". More4. Archived from the original on 11 January 2006. Retrieved 6 March 2010.
  8. "Faith and Belief". Channel 4. Archived from the original on 2 February 2009. Retrieved 6 March 2010.
  9. "Hardeep Singh Kohli appeared in Sport Relief Does The Apprentice for charity", Charities Aid Foundation, 28 February 2008. Retrieved on 2008-02-29.
  10. "Famous, Rich and Homeless". BBC One. Retrieved 6 March 2010.
  11. "Guests from 30th May 2011". Channel5.com. 2 May 2011. Retrieved 4 March 2012.
  12. "Don't lose your heads over my turban". Scotland on Sunday. 7 October 2007. Retrieved 6 March 2010.
  13. "'I read Harry Potter secretly on trains, half embarrassed, half ashamed. I loved it'". Scotland on Sunday. 29 July 2007. Retrieved 6 March 2010.
  14. Julian Hall (20 August 2009). "Hardeep Singh Kohli: The Nearly Naked Chef, The Gilded Balloon". The Independent. London. Retrieved 4 September 2009.
  15. Logan, Brian (16 August 2009). "Hardeep Singh Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 5 March 2010.
  16. London: The Guardian, 13 September 2008, 'Melting pot – Nicholas Clee chews over the link between what we eat and who we are'
  17. "Birmingham Mail – What's On – Theatre in Birmingham – Comedy: Hardeep Singh Kohli on cooking and comedy". birminghammail.net. Retrieved 6 July 2010.
  18. "Comedian Singh Kohli's rented Glasgow flats 'grubby and dirty'". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
  19. Braiden, Gerry (11 November 2008). "Kohli brothers 'victims of racist vendetta'". The Times. London. Retrieved 11 November 2008.
  20. "Hardeep Singh Kohli suspended from One Show after 'overstepping' mark". The London Evening Standard. 13 July 2009. Retrieved 2 March 2010.
  21. "Hardeep Singh Kohli will return to BBC TV after sex allegations". The Sun (Scotland). Retrieved 6 July 2010.
  22. "BBC News - Scottish independence: Yes campaigners rally in Edinburgh". BBC News. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
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