Frost is an outstanding television presenter, political interviewer
and producer, who is successful on both sides of the Atlantic. The
awards recognizing his achievements in television include two Golden
Roses from the Montreux international festival (for Frost Over
England) as well as two Emmy awards (for The David Frost
Show) in the United States. His long career was honored by knighthood
was one of the first generation of university graduates who bypassed
Fleet Street and went straight into television. While at Cambridge,
he showed his satirical talent in the Footlights Revue and
edited the university newspaper, Granta. In 1961 he moved
to London to work for ITV during the day and perform in cabarets
at night. His nightclub performance drew the attention of BBC producer
Ned Sherrin, who invited him to host That Was The Week That Was,
often called TW3. In the "satire boom" of the early 1960s the irreverent,
topical and politically oriented TW3 introduced satire to
television in Britain. Among others topics, the program poked fun
at the Royal family, the Church, high politics, and the respectable
tenets of British life. TW3 brought the divisions of British
society to the surface, and the ensuing controversy made the BBC
to discontinue it. From 1964-65 Frost co-hosted the next, milder
satirical program Not So Much a Programme, More a Way
of Life. At its most successful, this program bore significant
resemblance to TW3 and reached the same end.
success of TW3 made Frost a transatlantic commuter after NBC had
bought the rights and put on the American version (1964-65) with
executive producer Leland Hayward. The shorter, less political and
outspoken program never had the same impact as its British counterpart,
but made Frost's name in the United States, nevertheless.
in Britain, BBC's new show The Frost Report (1966-67) focused
on one topic per program and tackled social and contemporary issues
as opposed to the political and topical focus of TW3 and
Not So Much.... Drawing on the talent of John Cleese, Ronnie
Barker and Ronnie Corbett, the program brought humor to the topics
of education, voting and the like. The working environment provided
for the development of a new humorous trend in Britain, and five
of the comedians went on to form Monty Python's Flying Circus.
From 1966 to 1968 The Frost Programme at ITV showed the beginning
of the transition from the comedian to the serious interviewer.
Frost pioneered such TV techniques as directly involving the audience
in the discussions and blending comedy sketches with current affairs.
From this time on Frost's mixture of politics with entertainment
would draw mixed responses from critics. At this time his "ad-lib
interviewing" style, as he calls it, was characterized by rather
remorseless fire on well-chosen subjects, and led to his label as
the "tough inquisitor".
anchorman to executive producer Frost filled many different roles
in the television business. In 1966 he founded David Paradine Ltd.
and as an entrepreneur he put a consortium together to acquire the
ITV franchise for London Weekend Television in 1967. LWT's programming
did not live up to its franchise undertaking in the long run and
was criticized in Britain for emphasizing entertainment to the detriment
of substantial programming.
the strength of his British chat shows Group W (the U.S. Westinghouse
Corporation television stations) selected Frost to anchor an interview
daily from 1969-72. Frost kept his London shows and fronted The
David Frost Show in the United States. He used more one-to-one
interviews than before and managed to mix friendly conversation
with confrontation. Throughout these endeavors Frost's instinct
for television, his handling of the audience, and his ability to
put guests at ease and make them accessible justify the label "The
Television Man," given him years earlier by the BBC's Donald Baverstock.
television personality status, niceness, and ability to market himself
well enabled him to attract prominent interviewees. He has interviewed
every British Prime Minister since Harold Wilson as well as leading
politicians and celebrities from a number of different countries.
His show The Next President (1968, 1988, 1992) has become
a regular on American television featuring interviews with presidential
candidates in the run-up for the presidency. The most famous of
the Big Interviews characterizing Frost's recent focus is The
Nixon Interviews (1977). This interview is the only televised
assessment Richard Nixon gave about his conduct as president, including
the Watergate affair. The interviews were syndicated on a barter
basis and were subsequently seen in 70 countries.
When interviewing leading public figures Frost retains his persistence,
but he has refined his style into an apparently soft interrogative
method where the strength of a question is judged more by the range
of possible responses. Unlike his entertainment-oriented shows,
which were often followed by rows over questions of bias, the big
interviews are usually judged as fair and balanced.
the way to fame as a serious political interviewer Frost had a new
chance to combine politics and satire. As executive producer he
helped to launch Spitting Image in 1984. This show, a scathing
satire, picked up on already existing perceptions of politicians
and highlighted them in puppet caricatures. When Margaret Thatcher
was portrayed as a bald man who ate babies and lived next door to
Hitler, the life-size puppets were thought to be as dangerous for
politicians as TW3 was. As a result, before the 1987 elections the
program was not even broadcast. In another transAtlantic parallel,
this popular program also made it into the United States. In 1986
NBC carried Spitting Image: Down and Out in the White House
hosted by David Frost, and in 1987 The Ronnie and Nancy Show
special appeared on the screens.
In 1982 Frost successfully bid for a commercial breakfast television
franchise, TV-am, and became director of the new venture. Despite
the five famous flagship presenters, TV-am as a whole faced the
same criticism as London Weekend Television. Its leisurely approach
to hard news, especially during the Gulf War, was thought to cost
it the franchise in 1991.
losing TV-am, Frost signed a contract with the U.S. Public Broadcasting
Service in 1990 to produce Talking with David Frost, a monthly
interview program. In the program Frost interviewed Yitzhak Rabin,
General Norman Schwarzkopf, Ted Turner as well as a number of famous
and infamous personalities. At times he has been criticized for
an interviewing style thought to be too sympathetic towards his
business ventures also include filmmaking, where he acts as executive
producer. The satirical The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer (1970)
featuring Peter Cook taking over the Prime Ministership and The
Search for Mengele (1985) documentary indicate the variety of
films he has produced. As a writer, Frost draws on his commuter
observations. He described The English (1968) and The Americans
(1970) in his books. Apart from other writings, he published his
autobiography in 1993.
Britain Frost has often been criticized for his showbiz leanings,
his mannerisms and his apparent ability to use the fame bestowed
by television to further his career in a number of different fields.
Nevertheless, his flair for television and his ability to produce
high-quality current affairs and interview programs are widely recognized.
His excellent political interviews show how television is able to
provide insights into political decisions and contribute to the
historical record. Throughout his long career, Frost has always
been ready to experiment with something new. His personal contributions
to satire and political programs as well as his business ventures
make him a prominent figure of broadcasting.
Photo courtesy of David ParadineTelevision, Inc.
(PARADINE) FROST. Born in Tenderden, Kent, Englan, 7 April 1939.
Attended Gillingham Grammar School; Wellington Grammar School; Gonville
and Caius College, Cambridge, M.A. Married 1) Lynne Frederick in
1981 (divorced 1982); 2) Carina Fitzalan-Howard in 1983; children:
Miles, Wilfred and George. Served as presenter of Rediffusion specials,
1961; established name as host of That Was the Week That Was,
1962-63; later gained reputation as an aggressive interviewer on
The Frost Programme and other shows; co-founder, London Weekend
Television; chair, David Paradine group of companies , since 1966;
served on British/U.S. Bicentennial Liaison Committee, 1973-76,
and has hosted shows on both sides of the Atlantic; interviewed
Richard Nixon for television, 1976; helped launch TV-am commercial
breakfast television company, 1982. LLD, Emerson College, Boston,
Massachusetts. President, Lord's Taverners, 1985, 1986. Order of
the British Empire, 1970; knighted, 1993. Recipient: Golden Rose
of Montreux (twice); Royal Television Society Silver Medal, 1967;
Richard Dimbleby Award, 1967; Emmy Awards, 1970, 1971; Guild of
Television Producers Award, 1971; TV Personality of the Year, 1971;
Religious Heritage of America Award, 1971; Albert Einstein Award,
1971. Address: David Paradine Ltd, 5 St Mary Abbots Place, London
W8 6LS, England.
1961 This Week
1961 Let's Twist On the Riviera
1962-63 That Was the Week That Was
1963 A Degree of Frost
1964-65 Not So Much a Programme, More a Way of Life
1966-67 The Frost Report
1966-67 David Frost's Night Out in London
1966-68 The Frost Programme
1968-70 Frost on Friday
1969-72 The David Frost Show
1971-73 The David Frost Revue
1973 A Degree of Frost
1973 Frost's Weekly
1974 Frost on Thursday
1975-76 We British
1976 Forty Years of Television
1977 The Frost Programme
1977-78 A Prime Minister on Prime Ministers
1977-78 The Crossroads of Civilization
1978 Headliners With David Frost
1979-82 David Frost's Global Village
1981-86 David Frost Presents the International Guinness
Book of World Records
1981-92 Frost on Sunday
1982 Good Morning Britain
1986-88 The Guinness Book of Records Hall of Fame 1987-88
The Next President with David Frost
1987-88 Entertainment Tonight
1987-93 Through the Keyhole
1989 The President and Mrs Bush
Talking with David
1991- Talking with David Frost
1993- The Frost Programme
1993- Breakfast with Frost
Last the 1948 Show
1968 No--That's Me Over Here!
1969 The Ronnie Barker Playhouse
1975 James A. Michener's Dynasty
1978 The Ordeal of Patty Hearst
David Frost at the Phonograph
1967 Frost Over England
1968 Robert Kennedy the Man
1970 Frost Over America
1972-77 Frost Over Australia
1973-74 Frost Over New Zealand
1973 That Was the Year That Was
1975 The Unspeakable Crime
1975 Abortion--Merciful or Murder?
1975 The Beatles--Once Upon A Time in
America 1975 David Frost Presents
1976 The Sir Harold Wilson Interviews
1977 The Nixon Interviews
1978 Are We Really Going to Be Rich?
1979 A Gift of Song--Music For Unicef
1979 The Bee Gees Special
1979 The Kissinger Interviews
1980 The Shah Speaks
1980 The American Movie Awards
1980 The 25th Anniversary of ITV
1980 The Begin Interview
1980 Elvis--He Touched Their Lives
1981 The BAFTA Awards
1981 Show Business
1981 This Is Your Life 30th Anniversary
Special 1981 The Royal Wedding
1981 Onward Christian Soldiers
1982 The American Movie Awards
1982 A Night of Knights: A Royal Gala
1982 Rubinstein at 95
1982 Pierre Elliott Trudeau
1982 The End of the Year Show
1982-83 Frost Over Canada
1983 David Frost Live by Satellite from
1983 The End of the Year Show
1984 David Frost Presents Ultra Quiz
1985 That Was the Year That Was
1985 The Search for Josef Mengele
1985-86 Twenty Years On
1987 Spitting Image: Down and Out in
the White House
1987 The Spitting Image Movie Awards
The Spectacular World of Guinness Records 1988 ABC
Presents a Royal Gala
1991 The Nobel Debate
Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer, 1970; Charley One-Eye,
1972; Leadbelly, 1974; The Slipper and the Rose, 1975;
The Remarkable Mrs Sanger, 1979.
David Frost at the Phonograph, 1966, 1972; Pull the Other
One, 1987, 1988, 1990.
An Evening with David Frost, 1966.
Was the Week That Was. London: W.H. Allen, 1963.
to Live Under Labour--Or at least Have as much a Chance as Anybody
Else. London: Heinemann, 1964.
England with Love. London: Hodder and Stoughton; Heinemann,1967.
Presidential Debate. New York: Stein and Day, 1968.
The Americans. New York: Stein and Day, 1970.
and Frost. London: Sundial, 1970.
I Gave Them A Sword: Behind the Scenes of the Nixon Interviews.
New York: Morrow, 1978.
Could Have Kicked Myself. With Michael Deakin, 1982.
Wants to Be a Millionaire?. With Michael Deakin, 1983.
Frost's Book of the World's Worst Decisions. With Michael Deakin.
New York: Crown, 1983.
Frost's Book of Millionaires, Multimillionaires, and Really Rich
People. With Michael Deakin. New York: Crown, 1984.
Mid-Atlantic Companion. With Michael Shea. London: Weidenfeld
and Nicholson, 1986.
Rich Tide. With Michael Shea. London: Collins, 1986.
Frost: An Autobiography (Part One: From Congregations to Audiences).
London: Harper Collins, 1993.
Asa. The History of Broadcasting in the United Kingdom. Volume
V: Competition. London: Oxford University Press, 1995.
Willi. Will You Welcome Now.... David Frost. London: Michael
Jack. The Television Barons. London:Quartet, 1980.
Was the Week That Was