Alastair Brian Walden (born 8 July 1932 in West Bromwich, Staffordshire) is a British journalist and broadcaster who spent over a decade as a Labour Member of Parliament. He is the father of actor Ben Walden.
The son of a glass-worker, Walden 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. He completed a postgraduate course at Nuffield College, Oxford before becoming a university lecturer.
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.
He has 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 is considered one of the finest political interviewers in the history of British broadcasting, tenacious and ruthless. He was known for interviews of politicians, especially Margaret Thatcher. He was said to be her favourite interviewer, although he gave her a tough ride. In October 1989 Thatcher gave Walden an interview when her own (Conservative) party was turning against her.
Upon leaving Weekend World as presenter in 1986, Walden was succeeded by Matthew Parris, 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.
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for Birmingham All Saints
1964 – February 1974
|Member of Parliament for Birmingham Ladywood
February 1974 – 1977