Celebrating Britain's 101 Most Influential Asians 2022

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Nihal Arthanayake


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A PRESENTER with a permanent afternoon show on BBC Radio 5 Live, now named after him, Nihal Arthanayake is one of the most prominent Asian faces on national media.

Arthanayake has carved a niche for himself through his empathetic interviewing style and untiring energy in stripping away social stigmas. 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 such incidents could be happening right in front of their eyes.

Arthanayake 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.

“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 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 show on 5 Live.

They were talking about Fender’s song Dead Boys, which dealt with male suicide, and their conversation 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[1]affirming

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