Obituaries: Northamptonshire Daily Telegraph Cornish Guardian Memories of a friend Daily Telegraph
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Northamptonshire Daily Yelegraph
Cornish Guardian Memories of a friend
A SCHOOL friend of Sir David Frost
has shared his fond memories of the late broadcaster.
Donning fluorescent socks, writing
fake notes to the local paper and setting up a cress and rhubarb society are
just a few of the "japes" for which Par man Richard Adkins fondly
remembers the young David Frost.
ACT: Richard Adkins with a book containing images of his former classmate David
Frost, and below, the image taken from the book.
The BBC broadcaster died from a heart
attack on Saturday night aged 74, on the Queen Elizabeth cruise ship where he
was due to give a speech.
In his younger days, he joined
Wellingborough Grammar School's sixth form when his family relocated to the
Northamptonshire area. They moved around often due to his father's job as a
Mr Adkins was in the same school year
as Sir David, in the mid-Fifties.
"We were both in the sixth
form there but he was in the humanities and language classes and I was a
scientist," said the 74-year-old, who lives in Polmear Parc, and went on to
become a research
at Cranfield University.
"He got into a number of japes as I remember. The headmaster was a stickler for uniform and produced a list of what all the boys should wear and where to buy it from. David and his cronies discovered one thing not mentioned in the headmaster's list – socks. And so they started the Wellingborough Grammar Vivid Socks Society. "It started a craze. And I noticed on a number of his television interviews in later life that he wore bright socks."
Mr Adkins also remembers when their geography master told the class that Eskimos in Alaska were going blind because they didn't have enough of the vitamin that was found in rhubarb and cress. So Sir David and his group of friends decided to set up the Cress and Rhubarb Society, said Mr Adkins, which saw students bring armfuls of the food into school to be sent off to help the suffering Eskimos.
"He also played a joke on the
local newspaper, the Wellingborough News, which was part of the Northamptonshire
Evening Telegraph," added Mr Adkins.
"David and his friends
noticed that a rather revealing statue had been put up in the local park, so
they pretended to be a spinster of the parish complaining about the
nudity. "Then another of the boys wrote in to say what a prude the
Mr Adkins said he lost contact with
Sir David when they both left school, but that he remembers him fondly.
"I wasn't a close buddy of
his but I remember him well. I was very saddened to hear about
David. "When he passed away, I thought, 'a light has gone out'."
Sir David Frost, who has died aged 74, began his career in television satirising the patrician Establishment and ended it with a knighthood, a duke as a father-in-law and a reputation as the television personality politicians on both sides of the Atlantic most wanted to be interviewed by
BST 01 Sep 2013
made his name in the 1960s on the BBC’s late night satirical series That
Was The Week That Was. With his sardonic manner, slurred diction, nasal
voice and alarming surges in volume, he was the first to show that quirkiness
and unnaturalness could work better on television than the “natural” but
bland presentation that had been the norm.
was also one of the first television presenters to recognise instinctively the
value of a catchphrase as an indispensable prop in fixing a personality and
establishing a rapport with television audiences. His tautological “Hello,
good evening (or morning) and welcome” was delivered with a conscious air of
self-parody long before he himself became a butt of the satirists.
Frost was only the link man to performers like Willie Rushton and John Bird, it
was Frost, above all, who reaped the benefits of the programme’s notoriety.
the early days of The Frost Report in the 1960s, and The Frost
Programme in the 1970s, to Frost on Sunday in the 1990s, he was
rarely off British television screens, appearing in everything from news and
documentaries to chat shows, quiz shows and comedy. In total, Frost presented
more than 20 television series, produced nine films, wrote 14
books, won numerous awards, and was a co-founder of London Weekend Television
and TV-am. In 1969 a poll revealed that he was, after the Queen and the Prime
Minister, Harold Wilson, the best-known person in the country.
had a genius for access, and he interviewed nearly everyone who was anyone,
including six American Presidents, eight British Prime Ministers, several
members of the Royal family and a galaxy of celebrities. He had a phenomenal
memory and an instinctive understanding of the value of flattery; most of his
interviewees considered themselves personal friends.
big names answer the phone to him”, observed an envious colleague. “Nobody
else can phone the people he can and get through — and they’re pleased to
talk to him.” “Now at last here’s someone I recognise” announced
American President George HW Bush across a crowd of leading British public
figures held at No 10 Downing Street. At the Frosts’ annual garden party, held
in the second week of the Wimbledon championships, leading politicians would rub
shoulders with showbusiness personalities, sports stars and minor royals.
also had a Panglossian ability to look on the bright side. Though he had
failures that might have sunk a more introspective personality, he was always
able to put them behind him.
LWT and TV-am began with hopelessly unrealistic programming ambitions and both
hit trouble soon after they were launched. Most of his books earned indifferent
reviews and several business ventures failed. An attempt to open a chain of
steak houses in Japan collapsed after it was calculated that he would need to
fill every table six times a day to make it pay.
unlike television figures such as Michael Parkinson or Russell Harty, Frost was
never held in great affection by the British public, possibly because he always
seemed so desperate to be liked. Even friends admitted that away from the
cameras there was a strange insubstantiality about the man.
Muggeridge famously remarked that after That Was The Week That Was, Frost
was expected to sink without trace; instead, he “rose without trace”. The
phrase seemed to encapsulate both the suddenness of Frost’s rise and the lack
of any obvious intellectual anchorage in his career.
Frost never appeared to have any considered views about life. He was never heard
to utter a political opinion and never voted in an election. Interviewers asking
direct questions about his personal feelings on an issue would be fobbed off
with anecdotes about what someone else had said. They were often left with the
impression that Frost was not interested in anything other than his own career.
even in the lengthy first volume of his autobiography did Frost provide any
insights. He knew the rich and famous, but had nothing interesting or original
to say about them. He travelled the world, but his most interesting observations
were that Americans eat hamburgers and call pavements “sidewalks”.
Booker, a Cambridge contemporary, saw him as an embodiment of all that was
vacuous about the 1960s: “a hollow man in pursuit of fame for its own sake”.
His most obvious quality, Booker observed in a savage profile in 1977, “was
ambition of an all consuming and extraordinary kind. He simply wanted to be
amazingly famous for being David Frost”.
even Booker found him “impossible to dislike”. Though he had an insatiable
appetite for celebrity, he was never arrogant or vain. Wholly devoid of rancour,
he was never heard to voice a disparaging word about anyone, despite many
attempts by interviewers to get him to do so. People in his estimation were
usually “wonderful”, “lovely” “or “super”.
person on whom Frost’s charm failed to work was the satirist and comedian
Peter Cook. At Cook’s memorial service in 1995, Stephen Fry recalled an
occasion when Frost rang Cook to invite him to dinner with Prince Andrew and
Sarah Ferguson: “big fans ... be super if you could make it — Wednesday the
12th”. “Hang on, I’ll check my diary,” said Cook, riffling through the
pages. “Oh dear, I find I’m watching television that night.” Frost, who
was in the congregation, laughed with the rest of them. Even for those who
turned against him, Frost had only kind words in return.
Paradine Frost was born on April 7 1939 at Tenterden, Kent, the son of a
Methodist minister, the Rev WJ Paradine Frost. As his sisters were 14 and 16
years older, he was raised as an only child. There was no alcohol or swearing in
the Frost household, and no Sunday newspapers or television.
Frost family lived a peripatetic life, moving from Tenterden to Kempston,
Bedford, then back to Kent, to Gillingham, then to Raunds, near Wellingborough.
David attended Gillingham and Wellingborough grammar schools. His father would
have liked him to follow him into the ministry, but David’s talents seemed
destined to take him in other directions.
school he excelled at sports and displayed an early talent for satire, selling
his classmates bottles of soapy water labelled “Bill Haley’s Bathwater”
and conducting pseudonymous campaigns through the letters column of the local
paper, one of which called for all dogs to be shot.
could have been a star striker for Nottingham Forest. A club scout was present
when he scored eight goals with eight shots at a school match, and offered to
sign him up. But Frost was determined to go to Cambridge, where he arrived in
1958 as an undergraduate at Gonville and Caius.
Cambridge, Frost got to know Peter Cook, Eleanor Bron, John Bird, Jonathan
Miller and other stars of what was to become the Sixties satire industry; but
although he edited Granta and became secretary of Footlights, his
contemporaries were baffled by his ability to rise above an apparent lack of
comic talent and intellectual depth. “What the hell has he got?” Christopher
Booker recalled asking.
thing his contemporaries noticed was Frost’s utter imperviousness to disaster.
Peter Cook once recalled seeing him dying on his feet at a club but remaining
convinced his performance had been a great success.
first screen appearance came during his student days on Anglia Television’s Town
And Gown series, on which Frost, according to the local paper, made
“unrestrained appearances as an explorer, Professor Nain, Lionel Sope, Goalie
Finn and Ron Plindell”. But Frost immediately knew he had found his métier.
“The first time I stepped into a television studio,” he recalled later,
“it felt like home. It didn’t scare me. Talking to the camera seemed the
most natural thing in the world”.
from Cambridge, he took job with Associated-Rediffusion, who marked him down as
“totally unsuitable” to appear on screen, and supplemented his income by
performing in nightclubs. In 1962, Frost was doing an impersonation of the Prime
Minister Harold Macmillan in a two-month stint at the Blue Angel in Upper
Berkeley Street when he was spotted by Ned Sherrin, who was looking for a
linkman for his new BBC series That Was The Week That Was, sometimes
referred to as TW3. Sherrin decided that Frost was exactly the man to
bring satire to the late night mass television audience, and signed him up there
first TW3 show went out in November 1962, and the series continued for
just eight months. Condemned by Mary Whitehouse as “the epitome of what is
wrong with the BBC”, by its peak, the show had become a ratings sensation,
attracting more than 12 million viewers.
his early success with TW3, Frost’s career seemed to falter. “David
Frost: A short life and a sad decline” announced the Daily Express gleefully
in 1964. But he soon demonstrated his extraordinary talent for bouncing back. In
1966, after being sacked from TW3’s lacklustre successor Not So Much
A Programme, More A Way of Life, he sent out invitations to a totally
pointless but ostentatious champagne breakfast at the Connaught to which he
summoned most of the headline figures of the 1960s. Amazingly, many took the
bait, among them Harold Wilson, the Bishop of Woolwich, the philosopher AJ Ayer,
Lord Longford, and several newspaper proprietors. It was a brilliant publicity
stroke which, while it left his guests baffled, catapulted the 26-year-old Frost
from a face in the TW3 line-up to a marketable celebrity.
following year he orchestrated and secured the franchise for LWT, of which The
Frost Programme became a cornerstone. In 1968 he signed a £125,000 contract
with an American network for a three-nights-a-week show, the biggest salary ever
offered to a British broadcaster. So began three years of transatlantic to-ing
and fro-ing, invariably on Concorde. Honours were heaped upon him. In one week
in 1969 he was appointed OBE in Britain, made a Doctor of Laws in Boston and
given a “Faith and Freedom” award for “communicating the relevance of
Judaeo-Christian ethics to 20th century America”. In 1968 he set up his own
company, David Paradine Productions, and by 1969 his salary was rumoured to be
the height of his fame during the 1960s, Frost enjoyed a reputation for
aggressive and fearless interviewing. He eviscerated Rupert Murdoch on the
subject of pornography in an interview so hostile that it was said to have
contributed to Murdoch’s decision not to live in Britain. He stood his ground
against the formidable Enoch Powell in an interview on the subject of racism.
1967 Frost conducted what was perhaps his most notorious interview with the
disgraced insurance fraudster Emil Savundra. When Savundra’s trial began a
week later, the phrase “trial by television” was used by Savundra’s
defending counsel to excoriate Frost.
became a symbol of Sixties glamour, dynamism and irreverence. In his survey of
the decade, The Pendulum Years (1970), Bernard Levin anointed him “Man
of the Sixties”. Frost, he said, “divined by a remarkable instinct what the
age demanded and gave it”. Newspaper diarists delighted in documenting his
dalliances with actresses and models He was engaged twice but dumped both times,
virtually at the altar; all his girlfriends, he always insisted, were “
terrific” and “wonderful” and most remained friends.
the Seventies his career seemed to falter again. His output remained copious,
but in series such as David Frost Presents the Guinness Book of Records
(he bought the television rights to the world’s bestselling book in 1973), he
began to lose focus.
appearances on British television became more sporadic. Then, in 1977, he
secured perhaps the biggest coup of his career by signing up the disgraced
former American President Richard Nixon to an exclusive contract to give a
series of four interviews; it was the first time since his resignation that
Nixon had agreed to answer questions on the record.
easy-going at first, almost at the end Frost moved in for the kill, and Nixon
found himself apologising to the American public for the first time for his role
in the Watergate affair. Frost packaged and sold the interviews to nearly every
country in the world, and the interviews achieved the largest audience for a
news interview in the history of television.
established himself again at the centre of world affairs, in 1981 Frost married
Lynne Frederick, the widow of the actor Peter Sellers, but the marriage ended in
failure 18 months later. In 1984 he married Lady Carina Fitzalan-Howard,
daughter of the Duke of Norfolk. It was, by all accounts, a conspicuously happy
was one of the “famous five” who launched TV-am during the early 1980s, but
the only one to survive the debacle when the other four were axed in March 1983.
“He’s competent, he’s professional and he has the best address book in the
world” enthused Bruce Gyngell, who took over as managing director. “ He’s
always on the up, he’ll greet you positively and say: ‘Hello Sunshine, how
are you going? Lovely to see you.’ He’s quite irresistible.”
the 1990s Frost could be seen in Britain interviewing heads of state on TV-am’s
Frost on Sunday, spying on the rich and not quite famous in Through
the Keyhole, as well as chronicling the bizarre in The Spectacular World
of Guinness Records. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, he could be seen
quizzing more heads of state on Talking With Frost.
Frost became more of an Establishment figure, opinions were divided on whether
he offered television viewers anything more than the interviewing equivalent of Hello!
magazine. “What is the real thing you want to get across?” and “How would
you like to be remembered?” were typical of the sort of questions which
politicians could expect to be asked. It was hardly surprising that they queued
up to be on his shows.
at the same time some politicians were said to view him as the most dangerous
inquisitor of them all, a man who would lull the interviewee into a false sense
of security before bowling a googly. In 1986, the Conservative Party chairman
was coaxed into dismissing a riot at a boxing match as mere “exuberance”,
undermining his government’s “get tough” policy on hooligans.
1987 the Labour leader, Neil Kinnock, dropped his guard when asked as a
unilateralist whether he would be willing to send “our boys” into battle in
an army equipped with short range tactical nuclear weapons. Kinnock thought not,
on the whole, because Britain could always put up resistance on the home front.
The press seized on this as Kinnock calling for a latter- day Dad’s’ Army to
see off the nuclear threat.
himself believed he got more out of his subjects by being nice to them and felt
that the impact of interviews was more compelling and sometimes chilling done
conversationally than as a courtroom confrontation: “There’s little point
weighing into the interviewee from the start. Much better to let him damn
himself out of his own mouth, then you’ve got the ammunition you need.”
Frost was knighted in 1993.
and his wife had three sons.
Below from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Famous Broadcaster. Wellingborough Grammar School 1950s
|David Frost during an interview with Donald Rumsfeld.|
David was born at Tenterden, Kent, the son of a Methodist minister, the Rev. W.J. Paradine Frost, and attended Barnsole Road Primary School in Gillingham, Kent, then Gillingham Grammar School and finally Wellingborough Grammar School. He subsequently won a place at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, where he graduated with a First in English.
He is married to Lady Carina Frost, a daughter of the 17th Duke of Norfolk. He was previously married (1981-82) to Lynne Frederick (widow of Peter Sellers).
From early on, Frost allegedly declared his ambition to become a TV personality. Frost's well-known ability to network with the right people was in evidence at Cambridge, where he edited the student newspaper Varsity and the literary magazine Granta as well as taking on the role of secretary of the famous Footlights drama society, which included people of note such as Peter Cook and John Bird.
After leaving university, he became a trainee at Associated-Rediffusion and worked for Anglia Television. At the same time, he kept up his cabaret performances.
After several others declined the role (including Peter Cook, John Bird and Brian Redhead), he was chosen by writer and producer Ned Sherrin to host a pioneering satirical programme called That Was The Week That Was (alias TW3). This caught the wave of the satire boom in 1960s Britain and became enormously popular as well as influential, although it often riled politicians. TW3 was the last piece of scheduled programming broadcast by the BBC on a Saturday, and regularly overran its time slot. But by the second series it was followed by repeats of 'The Third Man', starring Michael Rennie. Frost took note of this, and at the end of each edition of TW3 would reveal the plot featuring the key twists and turns of each episode so that there would be very little point in watching the programme. After three weeks the BBC took note; 'The Third Man' was taken off the air and TW3 got its full hour (and a bit) back.
In 1985, David Frost produced and hosted a special in the same format called "That Was the Year That Was" on NBC.
Frost fronted a number of programmes following the success of TW3, most notably The Frost Report (1966-67), which launched the television careers of John Cleese, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett. He signed for Rediffusion, the ITV weekday contractor in London, to produce a "heavier" interview-based show The Frost Programme. This was a ground-breaking British "chat show", on which Frost interviewed many controversial characters. Guests included Sir Oswald Mosley and Rhodesian premier Ian Smith (he accused Smith of denying promotion to black members of Rhodesia's army, navy and air force, only to be told by Smith that landlocked Rhodesia didn't have a navy). His memorable dressing-down of insurance fraudster Emil Savundra was generally regarded as the first example of 'trial by television' in the UK.
In 1963 a moving tribute to recently-assassinated President John F. Kennedy on That Was The Week That Was had seen Frost's fame spread to the USA. LP recordings of TW3 became best sellers and so began an intensely busy period for Frost, including practically commuting across the Atlantic. His show Frost On America featured guests such as Jack Benny, Tennessee Williams and, in 1977, Richard Nixon - a famously hard-hitting interview for American television that was the subject of a 2006 play by Peter Morgan, Frost/Nixon, which was presented both in London and on Broadway.
That same year he was the Executive Producer of the Academy Award nominated Sherman Brothers musical film, The Slipper and the Rose. Frost was an organiser of the Music for UNICEF Concert at the United Nations General Assembly in 1979.
He is perhaps best known in the UK for presenting the panel game Through the Keyhole, which also featured Loyd Grossman and, more recently, Catherine Gee. After transferring from ITV, his Sunday morning interview programme Breakfast with Frost ran on the BBC from January 1993 until May 29, 2005. The programme originally began in this format on TV-am in September 1983 as Frost on Sunday and ran till the station lost its franchise. Later it transferred to BSB before moving to the BBC.
Frost was instrumental in starting up two important TV franchises: LWT in 1967, and as one of the Famous Five who launched TV-am in 1982. He owns a production company called Paradine Productions, after his middle name.
Frost is the only person to have interviewed all of the past six British prime ministers and the past seven US presidents. He was also the last person to interview Mohammad Reza Shah, the last Shah of Iran.
He is a patron and former vice president of the Motor Neurone Disease Association charity, as well as being a patron of the Alzheimer's Research Trust, East Anglia's Children's Hospices, the Home Farm Trust and the Elton John Aids Foundation.
He received a BAFTA Fellowship at the 2005 BAFTA Television awards ceremony, the highest accolade that the British Academy gives. Sir David's latest project is to present a live weekly current affairs programme for Al Jazeera English, the English language version of the Arabic broadcaster, starting when the network launched in November 2006 (see ).
After having been in television for 40 years Sir David is worth £20 million. This valuation includes the assets of his main British company and subsidiaries, plus homes in London and the country.
Frost has had numerous critics throughout his career. The satirist and his contemporary Peter Cook disliked him, perhaps because he imitated his act on Beyond The Fringe, impersonating UK Prime Minister Harold Macmillan. (Whilst Cook was performing the act at one theatre, Frost was performing exactly the same act at another.) Frost also offended Alec Douglas-Home by criticising his ability to govern via an impression of Benjamin Disraeli. In later life Home claimed to have been very hurt by this sketch.
Though Frost demonstrated a great deal of respect for Cook, Cook was critical of Frost's career, feeling he had done little more than stolen Cook's early image. Cook often claimed tongue in cheek that the biggest mistake he had ever made was saving Frost from drowning in a swimming pool. Further borrowing of comedy material from others caused Beyond The Fringe performer Jonathan Miller to dub Frost 'the bubonic plagiarist'. For these reasons and others the satirical magazine Private Eye has been a persistent critic of Frost, particularly during the 1970s.
The members of Monty Python, many of whom had worked for Frost, showed heavy disdain toward their former colleague. (At one instance they tried to display Frost's home telephone number on the air.) A particularly biting example of Python's views on Frost was 'Timmy Williams Coffee Time': a Frost facsimile named Timmy Williams (played by Eric Idle) meets with a recently widowed friend (Terry Jones) for coffee and pays far more attention to the surrounding television crews, newspaper and magazine reporters, and other sycophants than to his friend's desperate situation. The sketch ends with a fake credit scroll, crediting the show as 'written entirely' by Williams with dozens upon dozens of names listed as 'contributing writers' - an allusion to the feeling that Frost himself received far more credit than the actual writers of his programs.
Kitty Muggeridge (wife of Malcolm Muggeridge) made the observation that Frost 'rose without trace' (meaning that he had achieved fame for no reason).
Frost was a regular target of the radio comedy I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again, his smarmy 'hello, good evening, and welcome' presentational style being lampooned particularly by John Cleese.
In the early 1970s Simon Dee was critical of Frost and accused him of sabotaging his chat show Dee Time: Frost was a shareholder at London Weekend Television and his show aired immediately before Dee Time.
In addition Frost's interview style of late has been described as sycophantic and markedly different from his performances in the 1960s and 1970s which almost bordered on verbal bullying - it was from such fiery encounters the phrase 'trial by television' was supposedly popularised.