The death of Brian Walden….
The death last week of Brian Walden reminds us, if we actually need it, of the state of political interviews in the modern day. Best known for hosting Weekend World on a Sunday morning from the late 70s until he left in 1986, his style of interviewing was the stuff of legend and became something of an inspiration for this particular teenager as my interest in current affairs grew.
Many would say Walden was never truly the right ‘fit’ for television, he had a speech impediment which made pronouncing his Rs difficult, his questions were often long-winded and he allowed his guest the time to answer his questions in full. He was a shrewd journalist, steeped in Labour tradition as a serving MP he knew his stuff and he knew how to extract an answer. Margaret Thatcher was said to be an admirer of his and he interviewed her a number of times in what were proper, reasoned debates. Walden in turn, admired Thatcher despite being politically opposite, he considered her a huge influence on modern society and a ‘game-changer’, and it was Walden who secured her first interview as Prime Minister ironically delayed due to a technician’s strike.
Today we see hosts more concerned with making a name for themselves or driving their own political persuasion home, dredging up comments made on Twitter from years past, hostile, senseless questioning when the viewer wants answers on policy, not personality. Walden gave us the opportunity to see our politicians face serious questioning from someone who knew the game inside out. I shall never forget those Sunday mornings and the music taken from Mountain’s ‘Nantucket Sleighride’.
Brian Walden 1932-2019