DJ Nihal

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DJ Nihal
Nihal at Radio 1's Big Weekend in Preston.JPG
Nihal, talking to the crowd at a Radio 1 event in Preston
Born Nihal Arthanayake
(1971-06-01) 1 June 1971 (age 46)
Harlow, Essex, England, UK
Status Married, with two children[citation needed]
Occupation DJ, radio and television presenter

DJ Nihal (born Nihal Arthanayake on 1 June 1971 in Harlow, Essex) is an English radio and TV presenter who broadcasts on BBC Asian Network and since August 2010 BBC Radio 5 Live.

Early life[edit]

Nihal, born 1 June 1971, to Buddhist[2] Sri Lankan parents,[3] began his involvement in the music industry as a promoter of rap shows in his native Essex[4] while studying at Burnt Mill School, Harlow, Essex.

Music career[edit]


After graduating from university, Nihal began an unsuccessful career as a recording artist. He was briefly a member of alternative hip hop outfit Collapsed Lung. Nihal attempted to find fame as a rapper and worked with Fun Da Mental and Punjabi MC (in 1995), Badmarsh & Shri, Mentor, Sona Family and DJ Sanj and has worked as a freelance music journalist, having written for Asiana, Eastern Eye, The Face, Mixmag, Hip Hop Connection,[5] Attitude, Bear magazine, Cage And Aviary Birds and The Observer.[6]


In the late 1990s Arthanayake turned to music promotion working for artists as diverse as Nitin Sawhney, Judge Jules, Mos Def and Elton John[7] and it was while working for the groundbreaking Asian Beats record label Outcaste Records he promoted, amongst others Badmarsh & Shri's Signs album.[5]

Radio career[edit]

Nihal joined BBC Radio 1 in 2002, to become co-host of a night time Asian Beats show with DJ Bobby Friction coming under the specialist DJ category. The show won a Sony Radio Award in 2003 - achieving Gold standard in the Specialist Music Category for their show: Bobby Friction & Nihal Present.[8] At the end of 2004, they released a compilation album as a reflection of the music they play on the show. After an initial high-profile start, the show was rescheduled to the early morning 'graveyard' hours. Eventually Bobby Friction left the show, leaving the title as "Asian Beats with Nihal".

Nihal became the presenter of the Weekend Breakfast Show on Radio 1, in October 2007, the only one of two DJs to present both a mainstream and a specialist show on the channel, the other being Annie Mac, and he provided holiday cover for other Radio 1 colleagues. In September 2008 he was moved from weekend breakfast to weekend afternoons 13:00-16:00 on Radio 1.[7] On 21 September 2009, Nihal was moved from weekends to a brand-new review programme, named BBC Radio 1's Review With Nihal. The weekly show reviews the latest music. He also became the sole presenter of the specialist Radio 1 Asian Beats show after Bobby Friction left.

In May 2007, Nihal left Kicking Off... to become the host of the daily phone-in talk show from 09:00-12:00 on the Asian Network. In April 2009 his show moved to 13:00-15:00 as part schedule changes. In late 2012 the show moved to 10:00-13:00.

In 2010, he won "Best Radio Show" at the UK Asian Music Awards (UK AMAs) for his show on Radio 1,[9] and a Sony Award for Best Speech Programme for his Asian Network show.[10]

In June 2014, it was announced that in September 2014, Nihal would leave BBC Radio 1.[11]

Till September 2016 Nihal had its own discussion programme related to societal and political topics at BBC Radio A (Asian Network) Channel: Nihal. Discussion and debate on the big issues..

Since Autumn 2016, Nihal has co-hosted the 'Afternoon Edition' show on BBC Radio 5 Live. It runs Monday - Thursday 1pm - 4pm.


Nihal's TV appearances began in 1999 alongside Emma B on BBC2's Webwise.[5] He also hosted his own rap show The Drop on MTV Base,[5] and three hours of live TV every Saturday for digital television channel CBBC entitled The Saturday Show: Extra.[5]

Nihal co-presented three series of BBC2's flagship Asian music arts and culture show - Desi DNA alongside Adil Ray and Anita Rani since 2004[5] and he interviewed Karsh Kale, Padma Lakshmi, Nerm, Outlandish and DJ Pathaan, as well as presenting special features on Jay Sean, Ms Scandalous and Freeform Five.

In November 2004, he presented a documentary for Channel 4 entitled Where's Your F*****G Manners?[6] In August 2005, he appeared on BBC2's Art School, alongside celebrities Ulrika Jonsson and Keith Allen, to spend two weeks at the Chelsea School of Art and learn about modern art.[5]

In 2010, Nihal appeared on BBC2's Celebrity Masterchef,[12] but was eliminated in the first round, after cooking a Thai chicken curry on rosti for the Invention Test.[13]

With inside knowledge of the music industry he is regularly asked provide talking head commentary on various music and culture related topics from the BRIT Awards, The Culture Show and Channel 5's The Wright Stuff to MTV Base's Hip Hop Candy and has appeared as a guest panellist on music comedy quiz Never Mind The Buzzcocks[5] and on BBC4's We Need Answers.

Club promotion[edit]

Following on from the success of the Radio 1 show, Arthanayake launched his own club night called Bombay Bronx in May 2004 as an opportunity to showcase his love of rap music - but with a distinctly Asian perspective. Since its creation, Bombay Bronx has seen some of the biggest artists on the 'Asian Beats' scene perform live, such as Swami, Raghav, Jay Sean, Belgian Ben, Skiddy McGee and Mentor Kolektiv, as well as giving a platform for unsigned artists such as Sunit, Raxtstar and Serese.

As well as DJing at a variety of events up and down the country, Nihal has DJed the Isle of Wight Festival, Glastonbury Festival and Bestival in the UK. Internationally, he has performed in Bangladesh, Dubai, Germany, India, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Thailand and toured the U.S. with Bobby Friction and Raghav.

Other projects[edit]

In 2005, Nihal and former colleague Bobby Friction represented London as members of a team of cultural ambassadors during the successful 2012 Summer Olympics London bid.[4]

He is the voiceover for the Slumdog Millionaire album.[citation needed] In 2010, he undertook a sponsored walk around the coast of Northern Ireland to raise money for Battersea Dogs' Home.[citation needed]

Nihal also appeared on the BBC Radio 5 Live show Fighting Talk on 1 May 2010 alongside Tom Watt (actor), John Rawling and Kevin Bridges. Here he showed his support for north London football club Tottenham Hotspur.

Additionally, Nihal has been responsible for the music accompanying the London New Year's Eve fireworks display for 2011[14] and 2012.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Arthanayake resides in the Dollis Hill area of London[16] where he lives with his wife and two children, one son and one daughter.[citation needed]

Arthanayake is a lifelong fan of Tottenham Hotspur.


External links[edit]