Alastair Campbell is a writer, communicator and strategist best known for his role as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s spokesman, press secretary and director of communications and strategy. Still active in politics and campaigns in Britain and overseas, he now splits his time between writing, speaking, charities and consultancy.
He has written seventeen books in the past fourteen years, including ten volumes of diaries, four novels, two personal memoirs on depression and the pursuit of happiness, and Winners and How They Succeed, a Number 1 best-selling analysis of what it takes to win in politics, business and sport.
He was for many years chairman of fund-raising of Bloodwise, Britain’s main blood cancer charity, but in recent years has become increasingly involved with mental health charities and causes, speaking about his own experience of depression, psychosis and addiction, and of his brother Donald’s lifelong struggle with schizophrenia. A former ‘Mind Champion of the Year’, he is an ambassador for the Time to Change campaign to raise awareness about mental illness, ambassador for Alcohol Concern, patron of Maytree, the country’s only charity for the suicidal, and of Kidstime, which supports the children of mentally ill parents. He co-founded the all-party campaign, Equality4MentalHealth, which was credited in Parliament by then Chancellor George Osborne with securing an extra £600million for mental health services. He is an active supporter of the Heads Together campaign headed be Prince William, his wife Kate, and Prince Harry. In November 2017 Campbell was awarded an honorary fellowship of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in recognition of his leadership role in breaking down the stigma surrounding mental illness, and in fighting for better services.
His main interests outside work are running, cycling, open water swiming, bagpipes and following Burnley FC. He took up running in 2003 at the instigation of his sons and he has run the London Marathon, the Great North Run, and the Great Ethiopian Run, and completed several full triathlons, all for Bloodwise, his best friend John Merritt having been killed by leukaemia.
His first novel, All In The Mind, appeared in November 2008, to enthusiastic reviews for its frank examination of mental illness. His second novel Maya, a gripping analysis of fame and the obsession it attracts, was published in February 2010. His third novel, published in September 2013, was called My Name Is, and tells the story of a young girl’s descent into alcoholism. This led to him becoming an ambassador for Alcohol Concern. His fourth novel, Saturday Bloody Saturday, co-written with former footballer Paul Fletcher, will be published in February 2018.
In October 2008 Alastair broadcast an award-winning one hour documentary on BBC2 about his own breakdown in 1986. Both the film, Cracking Up, and All In The Mind, won considerable praise from mental health charities and campaign groups for helping to break down the taboo surrounding mental health, leading to his election as Mind Champion of the Year award in May 2009. He made a further BBC documentary, ‘My Depression and Me’ in 2019, whuch he then turned into a best-selling book, Living Better: How I Learned to Survive Depression. He has also made an award-winning documentary about Burnley FC, another BBC documentary about alcoholism, and more recently a film about wildlife. He has made a film too about his love of bagpipe music, which ended with him performing in front of 2,500 people in Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall. He is currently making another mental health documentary.
He writes a monthly interview for GQ magazine, and has covered figures as varied as Prince William and Jose Mourinho, Al Gore and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Nicola Sturgeon and Nicola Adams. Passionate about sport, he was written about different sports for The Times, the Irish Times and Esquire magazine. He was communications adviser to the British and Irish Lions rugby tour of New Zealand in 2005. He led a fundraising drive for Burnley FC, a team he has supported since the age of four, when the club was in financial trouble. They are currently riding high in the Premier League. His charity projects have involved him playing football with both Diego Maradona and Pele, and appearing in a one off version of the popular TV programme, The Apprentice.
He does a weekly podcast with his daughter Grace, Football, Feminism and Everything in Between, in which they interview prominent figures from culture, sport, business and politics. He is active in social media where he does regular ‘Campbell’s Rambles’ live on Instagram, and his daily ‘Tree of the Day’ posts attract a widespread following around the world.