03 SEP 2013: David Frost may be best remembered for his post-Watergate interviews with former President Richard Nixon, but the veteran British broadcaster was also a satirist, game show host and serious political journalist. Frost, 74, died of a heart attack on Saturday night aboard the Queen Elizabeth, where he was due to give a speech.


The BBC said it received a statement from Frost's family saying it was devastated and asking "for privacy at this difficult time.'' Cunard said its vessel left the English port of Southampton on Saturday for a 10-day cruise in the Mediterranean.

The Queen Elizabeth will make a scheduled stop in Lisbon early on Tuesday, and it is expected that the broadcaster’s body will be flown home to Britain at that time.

Sir David has regularly had speaking engagements on Cunard. He interviewed Nelson Mandela on board the QE2 in Cape Town in 1998 and was due to give a talk on a cruise from Britain to New York on the Queen Mary 2 next month.

In a television career that spanned half a century across both sides of the Atlantic, Frost interviewed a long list of the world's most powerful and famous, including virtually every British prime minister and US president of his time. He also was a gifted entertainer, a born TV host, and his amiable and charming personality was often described as the key to his success as interviewer.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron, praised Frost for being an "extraordinary man with charm, wit, talent, intelligence and warmth in equal measure,'' while BBC executives lauded him as "a titan of broadcasting.''

Frost began his career almost fresh out of college as the host of an early 1960s BBC satirical news show "That Was The Week That Was,'' then a pioneering programme that ruthlessly lampooned politicians. The show gained a wide following, and Frost's signature greeting, "Hello, good evening and welcome'' was often mimicked.

He went on to host a sketch show called "The Frost Report''. Behind the camera, Frost also co-founded two television companies, London Weekend Television and breakfast station TV-am, churning out a prolific amount of programmes.

Frost was popular in Britain and just beginning to launch a career on US television when he became internationally known in 1977 with a series of television interviews with Nixon.

They were groundbreaking for Frost and the ex-president, who was trying to salvage his reputation after resigning from the White House in disgrace following the Watergate scandal three years earlier. At the time, it was the most widely watched news interview in the history of TV.

The interviewer and his subject sparred through the first part of the interview, but Frost later said he realized he didn't have what he wanted as it wound down. Nixon had acknowledged mistakes, but Frost pressed him on whether that was enough. Americans, he said, wanted to hear him own up to wrongdoing and acknowledge abuse of power - and "unless you say it, you're going to be haunted for the rest of your life.''

"That was totally off-the-cuff,'' Frost later said. "That was totally ad-lib. In fact, I threw my clipboard down just to indicate that it was not prepared in any way... I just knew at that moment that Richard Nixon was more vulnerable than he'd ever be in his life. And I knew I had to get it right.''

After more pressing, Nixon relented. "I let the American people down and I have to carry that burden with me for the rest of my life,'' he said.

The face-off went on to spawn a hit play, and in 2008 a new generation was introduced to Frost's work with the Oscar-nominated movie "Frost/Nixon,'' starring Michael Sheen as Frost and Frank Langella as Nixon.

Over the years his interviewees included a wide-ranging roster of politicians and celebrities, from Russia's Mikhail Gorbachev to Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto to leading entertainment figures such as Orson Welles and the Beatles.

He was the only person to have interviewed the last eight British prime ministers and the seven US presidents in office from 1969 to 2008. Besides the Nixon interviews, one of the more memorable moments included a tense interview with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher over the sinking of the Argentine warship during the Falklands conflict. He was also the last person to interview the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

Frost's appeal to American audiences saw him become one of the Concorde's most frequent flyers, and he claimed to have been on the supersonic plane "somewhere between 300 and 500 times".

In later years Frost kept up his probing questioning of political leaders, although some came to criticize him for being "too nice'' to his subjects. Somewhat incongruously, he also hosted a game show called "Through the Keyhole'' that visited the homes of celebrities from 1987 to 2008.

"His sense of humour shone through everything he did,'' Richard Brock, a producer who worked with Frost at Al-Jazeera, told the broadcaster. "He wasn't all heavyweight, political interviews. He really got a kick out of some of the lighter stuff.''

Frost, who wrote about a dozen books, won numerous awards and was knighted in 1993. Most recently he was hosting programmes for Al-Jazeera English, where he had worked since its launch several years ago.

He is survived by his wife, Carina, and their three sons.

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