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Walden, Brian (1932-)

Presenter, Journalist, Politician

Main image of Walden, Brian (1932-)

Born into a working-class family in West Bromwich on 8 July 1932, Alastair Brian Walden was a University lecturer and then Labour Party Member of Parliament for Ladywood, Birmingham between 1964 and 1977.

He moved out of politics and began his work as a television presenter in the late 1970s, fronting LWT's Sunday morning current affairs programme Weekend World (ITV, 1972-88) between 1977 and 1986, after the series' first presenter, Peter Jay, left to become Britain's US Ambassador. Walden's experience in the House and as President of the Oxford University students union was a distinct advantage in his new role as a political broadcaster.

He gained a reputation as an earnest, occasionally sardonic, but acute interrogator, noted for his direct and probing questions. Unusually, he abandoned the autocue in his interviews, preferring to ask questions off the cuff. His often-repeated line to his interviewees, 'let me put this to you, Minister...', became something of a catchphrase. The distance Walden had travelled from his Labour Party roots was suggested by his expressed admiration for Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who in 1980 described him as her favourite interviewer.

Leaving Weekend World in 1986 (to be replaced by former Conservative MP Matthew Parris), he went on to present The Walden Interview (ITV, 1988-89), which featured a perhaps surprisingly confrontational interview with Margaret Thatcher (tx. 29/10/1989) just after the resignation of Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson. The series was followed by Walden (ITV, 1990-94), also for LWT, after which he branched out into political history with Walden on Labour Leaders (BBC, 1997), Walden on Heroes (BBC, 1998) and Walden on Villains (BBC, 1999).

He also enjoyed a parallel career in print journalism, with columns in The London Standard between 1983 and 1985 and The Sunday Times between 1986 and 1990, bringing the same sharp insight and aggressive enquiry to the political pages as he did to television.

His contribution to current affairs broadcasting has been recognised with several awards, including the Shell International Award in 1982 and the BAFTA Richard Dimbleby Award in 1985.

Glen Jones

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