Open main menu

Alastair Brian Walden (8 July 1932 – 9 May 2019) was a British journalist and broadcaster who spent over a decade as a Labour Member of Parliament.

Brian Walden
Member of Parliament
for Birmingham All Saints
In office
16 October 1964 – 8 February 1974
Preceded byJohn Hollingworth
Succeeded byConstituency abolished
Member of Parliament
for Birmingham Ladywood
In office
1 March 1974 – 16 June 1977
Preceded byDoris Fisher
Succeeded byJohn Sever
Personal details
Born
Alastair Brian Walden

(1932-07-08)8 July 1932
West Bromwich, Staffordshire, England
Died9 May 2019(2019-05-09) (aged 86)
Saint Peter Port, Guernsey
Political partyLabour
Spouse(s)
  • Sybil Blackstone
  • Jane McKerron
  • Hazel Downes
Children4, including Ben
Alma materQueen's College, Oxford
Nuffield College, Oxford

Contents

Early lifeEdit

Born in West Bromwich, Walden was the son of a glass worker, and attended West Bromwich Grammar School. He then won an open scholarship to study at Queen's College, Oxford, where he "narrowly missed a first" in history and in 1957 was elected president of the Oxford Union.[1][full citation needed] He completed a postgraduate course at Nuffield College, Oxford, before becoming a university lecturer.

Political careerEdit

Walden unsuccessfully contested the safe Conservative constituency of Oswestry in a 1961 by-election, coming third for Labour. At the 1964 general election Walden was elected MP for Birmingham All Saints in an election where race dominated the Birmingham campaign. He was re-elected in the general elections of 1966 and 1970. When All Saints was abolished Walden sought and gained the Labour nomination for Birmingham Ladywood, and was elected there in February 1974 and October 1974.

He campaigned for the liberalisation of cannabis and gambling laws; he was nicknamed by some "the bookies' MP" when he was revealed to be receiving more from the National Association of Bookmakers than his parliamentary salary. On 16 June 1977, Walden resigned from the House of Commons by taking the Chiltern Hundreds in order to become a full-time journalist and broadcaster.

Journalistic careerEdit

He presented television programmes, mostly for London Weekend Television, such as Weekend World, The Walden Interview and Walden, and was a member of the board of Central Television between 1981 and 1984.

Walden was considered one of the finest political interviewers in the history of British broadcasting, tenacious and ruthless. He won awards for broadcasting including the BAFTA Richard Dimbleby Award for television in 1986,[2] and in 1991 was named ITV personality of the year.[3] He was known for interviews of politicians, especially Margaret Thatcher. He was said to be her favourite interviewer,[4] although he gave her tough interviews.[5]

In October 1989, Thatcher gave Walden an interview when many within her own party were turning against her.[6]

Brian Walden: "You come over as being someone who one of your backbenchers said is slightly off her trolley, authoritarian, domineering, refusing to listen to anybody else – why? Why cannot you publicly project what you have just told me is your private character?"
Margaret Thatcher: "Brian, if anyone's coming over as domineering in this interview, it's you."

Upon leaving Weekend World as presenter in 1986, Walden was succeeded by Matthew Parris,[4] formerly Conservative MP for West Derbyshire. (The series came to an end two years later). In 2005, Walden presented 10-minute programmes, A Point of View, on BBC Radio 4, in a spot formerly occupied by Alistair Cooke's Letter From America.

Political satireEdit

As a well known public figure, Walden appeared in cameo as an interviewer for political comedy shows such as The New Statesman.[7] He was the subject of parody in Spitting Image as a puppet with a slight speech impediment, voiced by impressionist Steve Nallon.[8]

Personal lifeEdit

He lived in Guernsey. He was married three times; to Sybil Blackstone, Jane McKerron, then Hazel Downes (for 43 years). He had four sons; Richard and Philip (from his first marriage), actor Ben Walden (his second) and Christopher (his third).[9] He opposed the ban on fox-hunting,[10] and was a strong supporter of Brexit.[3]

DeathEdit

Walden died on 9 May 2019 aged 86 at his home in Guernsey from complications connected to emphysema.[5]

Following his death, colleagues paid tribute. Andrew Neil wrote: "... A wonderful interrogator of politicians, especially on Weekend World. With Robin Day, he invented the British political interview style. Emulated but not matched to this day."[11]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Times, 30 October 1961
  2. ^ "BAFTA Awards Search". BAFTA. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Brian Walden: Broadcaster and former Labour MP dies aged 86". BBC News. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Walden, Brian (1932–)". BFI ScreenOnline. British Film Institute. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Brian Walden, former MP and TV broadcaster, dies aged 86". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  6. ^ "TV Interview for The Walden Interview (Lawson's resignation)". Margaret Thatcher Foundation. 28 October 1989. Retrieved 23 May 2009.
  7. ^ "Brian Walden (II) (1932–2019)". IMDB. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  8. ^ "Spitting Image (1984–1996)". IMDB. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  9. ^ "Brian Walden obituary". The Guardian. 12 May 2019. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  10. ^ Walden, Brian (15 March 2002). "Ban on foxhunting would be a triumph for the mob". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 23 May 2009.
  11. ^ Neil, Andrew [@afneil] (12 May 2019). "Very sad to learn of the death of my friend and one-time colleague Brian Walden. Always wise and witty. A wonderful interrogator of politicians, especially on Weekend World. With Robin Day, he invented the British political interview style. Emulated but not matched to this day" (Tweet). Retrieved 12 May 2019 – via Twitter.

External linksEdit