Rachael Healy

The Guardian

Rachael Healy’s work for the Guardian spans television, theatre and comedy, with a particular focus on workers’ rights, diversity and equality. Her journalism seeks to scrutinise the arts, holding people and organisations to account, and bringing readers new perspectives on culture.

In an exclusive investigation into Britain’s Got Talent that she worked on with Sirin Kale, Healey revealed that BGT judge David Walliams had made derogatory and sexually explicit comments about contestants during filming of the ITV family show. They revealed BGT staff recorded which contestants would likely be “buzzed off” on live TV, saying of one: “Only put through because he is so unlikeable.” They obtained exclusive documents, corroborated by multiple hard-to-reach sources. The investigation exposed misogyny and a culture of disregard for talent show contestants. It was published amid mounting criticism of reality TV’s treatment of participants – earlier in 2022, ITV faced criticism over the allegedly toxic culture on the Jeremy Kyle Show, and deaths of former Love Island participants. The impact of the investigation was immediate and far-reaching. It was the most-read article on theguardian.com on the day of publication, eventually achieving 1.2 million page views. It was picked up by every UK newspaper, multiple TV news programmes, plus worldwide publications. Soon after, it was announced that Walliams would be leaving BGT. The article also prompted media scrutiny of his position as children’s author, with Tortoise Media putting our reporting to his publisher HarperCollins.

Since the post-pandemic resumption of live performances, there have been many anecdotes about apparently worsening audience behaviour. Healy explored the topic, going beyond the outrageous incidents and focusing instead on the impact on venue staff. The topic resonated strongly with readers. It was the most-read article on theguardian.com on the day of publication, achieving 823,000 page views. It instigated further media conversation and was repurposed into the Guardian’s Weekend podcast. Healy’s work gave a voice to workers and asked experts for solutions-focused ways forward.

Healy also writes extensively for the Guardian about comedy, making efforts to scrutinise the industry and give voice to underrepresented people. This year, she reported on the world-famous Edinburgh Festival Fringe, including pieces focusing on its costs. Industry and audiences alike have for some time questioned whether the fringe is fit for purpose. This year, with the festival returning to full size and the cost-of-living crisis hitting, Healy’s feature, published on the final weekend of the fringe, took the temperature of the festival. She asked artists and producers whether the costs and downsides were worth enduring, catching up with artists who'd shared their honest budgets with her. She also revealed that LGBTQ+ participants had faced growing harassment (this had not been reported elsewhere and might otherwise have been overlooked).