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St Mary's University

BBC Radio Host Nihal Arthanayake Awarded Honorary Doctorate

Award winning BBC radio host Nihal Arthanayake has today been awarded an honorary doctorate by St Mary’s University, Twickenham at a ceremony in Westminster Cathedral.

Nihal Arthanayake in red doctorate robe holding degree certificate in tube

Award winning BBC radio host Nihal Arthanayake has today been awarded an honorary doctorate by St Mary’s University, Twickenham (SMU) at a ceremony in Westminster Cathedral.

Nihal, an alumnus of BA History and English Literature at SMU, received the award during the University’s summer graduation ceremonies. The honorary doctorate was awarded in recognition of Nihal’s extensive career in the British media and his work to improve the quality of our national debate through his Radio 5 Live programme and his debut book Let's Talk: How to Have Better Conversations.

Nihal began his career whilst he was studying at St Mary’s as a performer, recording artist, and event organiser. After graduating he continued pursuing these interests whilst also working as a journalist, writing for the Observer, the Sunday Times, and a number of music publications.

Speaking of the Award, Nihal said, "This is so much of an honour that I can barely process that it is happening to me. St Mary's was the first place that I really began to value knowledge, and I will be eternally grateful to this wonderful University for that."

St Mary’s Vice-Chancellor Anthony McClaran said, “We are delighted to have this opportunity to celebrate all that Nihal has achieved since graduating from St Mary’s. Throughout his career Nihal has demonstrated our values of excellence, respect, inclusiveness, and generosity of spirit, and we are proud to have been part of his journey. He is a fantastic role model for this year’s graduating class.”

He launched his national broadcast career in 1999 with BBC TV appearances, before joining BBC Radio 1 as the host of Asian Beats with DJ Bobby Friction. Nihal saw success from the start in his radio career, winning a Sony Radio Award in 2003. In 2007, he went on to present the Radio 1 Weekend Breakfast Show, where he was one of only two DJs to present both a mainstream and a specialist show on the channel.

Since 2016, Nihal has presented the afternoon show on Radio 5 Live, which features conversation on issues affecting the UK and wider world and interviews with celebrities, politicians, and thinkers. He also presents the BBC Sounds Podcast Headliners, where he interviews some of the biggest names in the music industry.

Located in Twickenham, SMU was established in 1850 and is rated in top 5 in the country for teaching quality and top ten for student experience in the 2023 Sunday Times Good University Guide.

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