- Category : TV Presenter
- Type : GP
- Profile : 2/4 - Hermit / Opportunist
- Definition : Split - Small (8,20)
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Penetration 1
Sir David Paradine Frost, OBE (born 7 April 1939) is an English satirist, writer, journalist and television presenter, best known as a pioneer of political satire on television and for his serious interviews of political figures. As of 2008, he hosts the weekly programme Frost Over The World, on Al Jazeera English.
David Frost was born at Tenterden, Kent, the son of a Methodist minister, the Rev. W.J. Paradine Frost. In his youth he started training as a Methodist Local Preacher but did not complete. He 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 had turned down a contract with Nottingham Forest Football Club to attend university.
At Cambridge, he edited the student newspaper, Varsity, and the literary magazine, Granta. He was also secretary of the famous Footlights drama society, which included actors 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.
He is married to Lady Carina née Stapleton-Fitzalan-Howard, a daughter of the 17th Duke of Norfolk. He was previously married (1981-82) to Lynne Frederick, widow of Peter Sellers. He was also engaged to American actress Diahann Carroll in the early 1970s. In 1993, Frost was honoured with a knighthood.
That Was The Week That Was (TW3)
Frost 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 a popular program. TW3 was the last piece of scheduled programming broadcast by the BBC on a Saturday, and regularly overran its time slot.
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 back.
After a pilot episode on 10 November 1963, a 30-minute American version of TW3 featuring Frost ran on NBC from 10 January 1964 to May 1965. In 1985, David Frost produced and hosted a television special in the same format, That Was the Year That Was on NBC.
Frost fronted a number of programmes following the success of TW3, including its immediate successor, Not So Much a Programme, More a Way of Life, which he co-chaired with Willie Rushton and P. J. Kavanagh. More notable was 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 called The Frost Programme. Guests included Sir Oswald Mosley and Rhodesian premier Ian Smith (Frost accused him 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 tribute to the recently assassinated President John F. Kennedy on That Was The Week That Was had seen Frost's fame spread to the USA. His show Frost On America featured guests such as Jack Benny, Tennessee Williams and, in 1977, Richard Nixon in a series of interviews for American television. These interviews culminated in a discussion of Watergate, when Nixon famously avowed that whatever the President did was legal and in Nixon's admission that he had let down the American people. Many regard this interview as taking the place of the trial that Nixon (whom President Ford pardoned) never had.
That same year he was the executive producer of the Academy Award-nominated The Slipper and the Rose. Frost was an organiser of the Music for UNICEF Concert at the United Nations General Assembly in 1979. Ten years later, Frost was hired as the anchor of the new American tabloid news program Inside Edition, but was replaced after only a few weeks by future Fox News personality Bill O'Reilly.
During the 1990s, he presented the panel game Through the Keyhole, which featured a long running partnership with Loyd Grossman. After transferring from ITV, his Sunday morning interview programme Breakfast with Frost ran on the BBC from January 1993 until 29 May 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 at the end of 1992. Later it transferred briefly 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 February 1983. On 20 and 21 July, 1969, during the British television Apollo 11 coverage, he presented David Frost's Moon Party for LWT, a ten hour discussion and entertainment marathon from LWT's Wembley Studios, on the night Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Two of his guests on this marathon programme were the unlikely combination of British historian A.J.P. Taylor and Sammy Davis, Jnr. Taylor was sceptical about the proceedings and believed that the moon landing was actually a mock-up being broadcast from a Hollywood studio. He started a production company called David Paradine Productions and was also part of a consortium with Richard Branson which failed to acquire three ITV franchises under the CPV-TV name.
Frost is the only person to have interviewed all six British prime ministers serving between 1964 and 2007 (Harold Wilson, Edward Heath, James Callaghan, Margaret Thatcher, John Major and Tony Blair) and the seven US presidents in office between 1969 and 2008 (Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush). 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.
After having been in television for 40 years, Frost is worth £20 million. This valuation includes the assets of his main British company and subsidiaries, plus homes in London and the country.
He received a fellowship from BAFTA in 2005, the highest accolade that the academy gives.
As of November 2008, he works for Al Jazeera English, presenting a live weekly current affairs programme which started when the network launched in November 2006.
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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 (while 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.
Cook often claimed in a tongue in cheek fashion that the biggest mistake he had ever made was saving Frost from drowning in a swimming pool. Beyond The Fringe performer Jonathan Miller recalls Cook dubbed 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 the sketch "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 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". Idle later appeared as Frost (interviewing Richard Nixon) on a 1977 episode of Saturday Night Live, in a virtual repeat of his "Timmy Williams" performance.
Frost was a regular target of the radio comedy show I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again, his oleaginous `Hello, good evening and welcome' presentational style being lampooned particularly by John Cleese.
Originally a play by Peter Morgan that was developed from a series of interviews, Frost/Nixon was presented both in London and on Broadway. The play was adapted into a motion picture, starring Michael Sheen as David Frost, Frank Langella as Richard Nixon, directed by Ron Howard, and released in 2008. Frost/Nixon has been nominated for 5 Golden Globe awards: Best Motion Picture Drama, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Screenplay and Best Original Score, as well as 5 Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Editing.