David Frost

David Frost

Date of birth: 07-04-1939

Sir David Frost was the pioneer of the ‘satire boom’ of the Sixties.

Born in Kent in 1939, his comedy career began at Cambridge, where he was secretary of the Footlights alongside the likes of Peter Cook and John Bird. His contemporaries noticed a burning ambition, and a thick skin. Cook once recalled seeing Frost dying on his feet on stage, but remaining convinced he had been a great success.

In 1962, he was chosen to host the live satirical programme That Was The Week That Was, alias TW3, a significant part of the satire boom. After TW3 ended in 1963 – because the BBC felt its political content could sway the 1964 election – Frost fronted a number of programmes including its immediate successor, Not So Much a Programme, More A Way of Life, with Willie Rushton.

More notable was The Frost Report, in 1966 and 1967, which launched the TV careers of John Cleese, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett and featured the classic ‘I look down on him’ sketch about class.

In 1968 he signed a £125,000 contract with an American network for a three-nights-a-week talk show, beginning his move away from comedy

He was made an OBE in 1970 before being knighted in 1993. 

Towards the end of his life, he returned to comedy to make the documentary Frost on Sketch Shows for BBC Four.

He died on August 31, 2013, of a suspected heart attack while giving a speech on the Queen Elizabeth cruise ship.

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David Frost dies at 74

Heart attack on cruise ship

Sir David Frost, the pioneer of the ‘satire boom’ of the Sixties, has died at the age of 74.

He suffered a suspected heart attack while giving a speech on board the Queen Elizabeth cruise ship on Saturday night.

In comedy he will be remembered for the groundbreaking satire show That Was The Week That Was and The Frost Report, which included the classic ‘I know my place’ sketch about the British class system.

But his wide-ranging broadcasting career also included political interviews – including the revelatory encounters with former US President Richard Nixon – being one of the founders of breakfast TV station TV-am and the panel show Through The Keyhole, which was revived last night by Keith Lemon.

His death was announced with statement from Frost's family, which said: ‘His family are devastated and ask for privacy at this difficult time. A family funeral will be held in the near future and details of a memorial service will be announced in due course.’

Frost’s comedy career began at Cambridge, where he was not only editor of both the student newspaper, Varsity, and the literary magazine, Granta but was also secretary of the Footlights alongside the likes of Peter Cook and John Bird.

His contemporaries noticed a burning ambition, and a thick skin. Cook once recalled seeing Frost performing to silence, but remaining convinced he had been a great success.

In 1962, Frost was chosen by writer and producer Ned Sherrin to host the live satirical programme That Was The Week That Was, alias TW3. It was a significant part of the satire boom in the early 1960s, breaking new ground by lampooning politicians. Mary Whitehouse condemned it as ‘the epitome of what is wrong with the BBC’, and it attracted audiences of up to 12 million.

However Cook – founder of Private Eye and the Establishment Club – felt Frost had stolen his satirical thunder, and long held a grudge against him. He used to joke that his biggest regret in life was saving Frost from drowning in a swimming pool. And the Goodies TV also called Frost 'the bubonic plagiarist'.

After TW3 ended in 1963 – because the BBC felt its political content could sway the 1964 general election – Frost fronted a number of programmes including its immediate successor, Not So Much a Programme, More A Way of Life, with Willie Rushton.

More notable was The Frost Report, 1966 and 1967, which launched the television careers of John Cleese, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett.

In 1968 he signed a £125,000 contract with an American network for a three-nights-a-week talk show, the biggest salary ever offered to a Briton, and he became known for a fearless interviewing technique, which was later to subside as he became part of the establishment he once skewered. A keen social climber, who threw star-studded parties, he was married to Lady Carina Fitzalan-Howard, daughter of the Duke Of Norfolk and they had three sons.

He was made an OBE in 1970 before being knighted in 1993.  He was made a fellow of Bafta in 2005 and received a lifetime achievement award from the Emmys in America in 2009.

Frost recently returned to comedy to make the documentary Frost on Sketch Shows for BBC Four.

David Cameron was among those paying tribute today, saying: ‘My heart goes out to David Frost's family. He could be - and certainly was with me - both a friend and a fearsome interviewer.’

Stephen Fry tweeted: ‘Oh heavens, David Frost dead? No!! I only spoke to him on Friday and he sounded so well. Excited about a house move, full of plans … how sad’.

And Rory Bremner added: 'Feels like a whole broadcasting organisation has died. Frostie's range and output was phenomenal. His contacts legendary. Never stopped.'

Here’s a clip from That Was The Week That Was with Frost and Rushton:

And from The Frost Report:

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Published: 1 Sep 2013

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