Decca Aitkenhead

Sunday Times

Combining meticulous research with psychologically astute questioning, Decca Aitkenhead reveals unexpected facets to even the most exhaustively-covered interviewees. Her candid interview with Pamela Anderson, for example, in which she elicited revelations that didn’t even appear in Anderson’s recent warts-and-all memoir, portrayed the former Playboy model and Baywatch star in an entirely new light – intelligent, thoughtful and self-aware.

Her interview with former vicar and broadcaster Richard Coles is another example. The introduction – “He broke his oath of celibacy. He conducted secret gay blessings in his church. He thought he might win Strictly. He’s angry with the BBC” – offers a tantalising glimpse of the many illuminating admissions she teased from him, some of them far from flattering. We feel we know him better by the end, and his self-confessed foibles mean we probably like him better too. 

Broadcaster Evan Davis chose Aitkenhead to tell the extraordinary tale of his father’s suicide – on the very day he himself got married. Beautifully crafted, moving without being mawkish, the piece generated a vast mailbag and an important debate about assisted dying. “Decca Aitkenhead makes one of the hardest tasks in journalism seem effortless,” said the judges. “You want to read every article right to the end.”