Sunday, May 12, 2019

Brian Walden and Weekend World

The death of Brian Walden, which was announced today, reminds us of a golden era of political broadcasting.

Walden was a Birmingham Labour MP between 1964 and 1977, when he resigned to become the presenter of London Weekend Television's Sunday lunchtime programme Weekend World.

A typical edition would have a cabinet minister or leading member of the opposition as a guest. There would first be a deeply researched film about a problem facing the minister or a political dilemma facing the opposition, followed by an in-depth interview.

The mood was like a university tutorial, with Walden as the stern tutor. He did not go in for histrionics: his strength was that he made sure he was as well informed on the subject in hand as his guest. Politicians did not get away with bland generalities.

Maybe it's a sign of my age, but I find it hard to imagine many current politicians standing up to this sort of scrutiny.

Broadcasters long ago decided that the public is not interested in this kind of television. Perhaps that is one reason why we are faced with a generation of political pygmies.

Oh, and Weekend World had the best theme tune ever - Nantucket Sleighride by Mountain.

1 comment:

Frank Little said...

Brian Walden's great attribute, borne of his previous career, was that he did not assume that his interviewees were necessarily rogues and liars. He knew that most politicians enter the House of Commons with the best of intentions. Thus he was able to draw out former colleagues and their successors in a way that the forensic style initiated by Robin Day does not.

It is an approach shared by my hero, the late Patrick Hannan, and some of those who learned at his knee.