Celebrating Britain's 101 Most Influential Asians 2021

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© Asian Media Group - 2022


Nihal Arthanayake


“BY following your gut, and bringing to light the unspoken societal issues that plague our souls, you pulled me back from the brink of oblivion. Your words, and Sam’s music, made me realise that I have agency. By thinking in new ways, I can see the alternatives. I can begin to see, once again, the life is not that to be endured, but to be enjoyed.”

The quote is from an email Nihal Arthanayake received from a man who was about to take his own life, but happened to listen on his car radio an interview with singer-songwriter Sam Fender on Arthanayake’s daily daytime show on BBC Radio 5 Live.

They were talking about Fender’s song Dead Boys, which dealt with male suicide, and the live performance of the track coupled with the conversation they had afterwards changed the course of that man’s life, who would decide to go back home and seek help. Arthanayake counts this as the most life-affirming moment of his career as a broadcaster.

Arthanayake has, in fact, carved a rather special place for himself through his empathetic interviewing style and his untiring energy in stripping away social stigmas.

He is adept at bringing out inspiring stories from both everyday people and celebrities alike and his ability to relate to people with different life trajectories has seen him making big difference in people’s lives.

His interview with a man who was a victim of human trafficking has been a particularly striking episode. Forced to work in a shop for years without pay and any day off, he was given money only to buy food from the shop he worked in. The moving episode turned out to be a shocking revelation for many listeners that these type of incidents could be happening right in front of their

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