Former BBC radio presenter Brian Widlake dies aged 85

Former BBC radio presenter Brian Widlake has died aged 85.

The broadcaster and journalist’s death was announced on Monday on BBC Radio 4′s The World At One programme, which he presented in the 1970s and 1980s.

BBC director-general Tony Hall paid tribute to Widlake in a statement.

He said: “Brian was a fine journalist and presenter who was key to establishing World At One as a pioneering programme.

“He was a wonderful colleague and will be sadly missed.”

Dame Jenny Abramsky, the BBC’s former director of audio and music, said Widlake was “a joy to work with”.

She praised him as “charming” and said he was a “really gifted broadcaster” during a discussion on The World At One.

Dame Jenny said of Widlake’s interviewing technique: “Brian would always think, ‘what do you the listener want to find out?’

“He would approach the interviews in that way and, therefore, the listeners felt he was their friend, and that was the important thing.”

Widlake made broadcasting history when he became the first journalist to conduct a television interview with Nelson Mandela in 1961 while Mandela was on the run.

During his long and prestigious career, the former ITN reporter also interviewed US president Ronald Reagan, which he discussed last year while celebrating The World At Once’s 50th anniversary.

“We had a very good time,” Widlake said of Reagan. “He was a charming man, very well-mannered.”

Widlake was also known for co-presenting BBC 2′s Money Programme in the 1980s and he appeared on Radio 4′s long-running PM broadcast.

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