Inquisitor Walden fills void left by Cooke as voice of Radio 4

A year after the death of the legendary broadcaster Alistair Cooke, the veteran inquisitor Brian Walden is to replace him as the "distinctive voice" of BBC radio.

A year after the death of the legendary broadcaster Alistair Cooke, the veteran inquisitor Brian Walden is to replace him as the "distinctive voice" of BBC radio.

Mark Damazer, the controller of Radio 4, has revealed that the station is to launch a new series in place of Letter from America , a year after Cooke's death at the age of 95. Point of View will not follow exactly the same format as Cooke's weekly reports, but will offer listeners a similar "distinctive, authorial voice".

Walden is the first of a series of presenters who will fill the 10-minute slot, with a run of 13 programmes starting on 4 March. He will rotate with three other broadcasters, including at least one woman. But the Guernsey-based broadcaster will not present the show from the United States, instead giving a personal view on a topical issue of the week.

"Alistair Cooke left a huge hole. I am not going to replace his programme like for like. But I want the Radio 4 audience to have someone who is compelling, interesting, with a distinctive authorial voice. So I am launching a new series which we have provisionally called Point of View ," Damazer told the Radio Times . "We will start with the broadcaster Brian Walden. The brief will be very broad. Brian has got an extremely distinctive voice and a wide range of experience. But he will be different from Alistair Cooke. There is no point in pretending that Cooke can be replicated."

A veteran television presenter, with a career including programmes such as LWT's Weekend World and the Walden Interview , the new voice of Radio 4 is famous for his setpiece interviews with prime ministers and leading politicians.

In 1989, soon after the resignation of Nigel Lawson as Chancellor, he famously put it to Margaret Thatcher that her backbenchers were in open revolt, accusing her of being "off her trolley".

Born in 1932, Walden won a scholarship to The Queen's College, Oxford, and in 1957 was elected president of the Oxford Union. After a brief career as a lecturer, in 1964 he was elected as a Labour MP in Birmingham; he left Parliament for broadcasting in 1977. From 1981 to 1984, he sat on the board of Central Television and is chairman of Bob Geldof's media group, Ten Alps Communications.

Martin Rosenbaum, the executive producer of Walden's weekly essay, said: "It's a very wide-ranging remit. Obviously, it's got to be relate to that week, but there aren't any limits to what he can cover. Cooke was unique and can't be replaced, but what they have in common is it will be one person's view ... at a topical event. Walden has got a long historical perspective. He's good at putting things in context. He's a superb broadcaster, he's got tremendous analytical skills and he is also good at moving from the specific to the general."

Cooke presented his Letter from America for 58 years, covering events in the US from Neil Armstrong's first step on the moon to the 11 September attacks. He retired weeks before his death in March 2004.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This publishing company based i...

Ashdown Group: Content Manager - Publishing

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Guru Careers: Report Writer / Reporting Analyst

£25 - 30k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Report Writer / Reporting Analyst is nee...

Guru Careers: German Speaking Account Manager / Account Executive

£24-30K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A German speaking Account Manager ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own