Nelson Mandela Foundation

Media release: Foundation saddened by passing of Brian Widlake

Date of release: 4 January 2017

From: Nelson Mandela Foundation

The Nelson Mandela Foundation is saddened to hear of the death of veteran journalist and television presenter Brian Widlake. He was well known and respected, especially for his work with ITN, LBC and the BBC.

Famously on 31 May 1961 he interviewed Nelson Mandela while the latter was underground and known as "The Black Pimpernel". In the interview, Mr Mandela hinted at the need for an armed struggle for freedom in South Africa. Just months later, on 16 December 1961, Umkhonto we Sizwe launched its first sabotage campaign against the apartheid state.

It is widely thought that this historically significant interview was the first television interview with Mr Mandela. Nelson Mandela Foundation research recently surfaced an earlier interview done with him.

Some years ago the Foundation was honoured to meet Mr Widlake and his stepson, Mr Mark Nicholas. They assisted us, together with Ahmed Kathrada, to build up a more comprehensive picture of the contexts and circumstances in which the 1961 interview took place.

Our thoughts are with Mr Nicholas and the rest of the family at this difficult time.

Nmf  Widlake 637 320 80 S

Brian Widlake in 1961. Still from 1961 television interview