|Sir David Frost with Richard Nixon – 1977.|
Just 15 minutes before the end of last night’s episode of The Two we heard the sad news that one of the finest British broadcasters of them all – Sir David Frost – had died of a heart attack aged 74. Pam and I were already planning to end the program with the remarkable Spirits Having Flown by the Bee Gees as a happy birthday to Barry Gibb, but with the word through about Frost the lyrics seemed coincidentally appropriate.
Frost was a hero of mine for several reasons. One was his ability to be nice in interviews without being a walkover. Former Tony Blair communications chief Alistair Campbell has said in a tweet that Blair “singled out David Frost as one of best interviewers because his sheer niceness could lull you into saying things you didn’t intend”.If you click here you can see an example of this with a montage of highlights from his career put together by the BBC. It includes Frost asking the then Prime Minister if he and George W. Bush prayed together – a simple question that appears to completely throw Blair.
I also admired Frost’s lack of snobbery – and also his interest – in matters beyond just politics. And on that note, I’ve always been inspired by people who have changed tack in life or more-so, have had their career-defining moments slightly later in life. It gives the rest of us the hope and drive to keep striving for what we really want, or to open ourselves to challenges we may not have thought right to undertake.
With regards to Frost, this is all in reference to a man who could host gameshows and talk to showbiz stars, who also put his career on the line to interview Richard Nixon in some of the most famous and important political interviews ever.The Nixon interviews – where Frost coaxed an apology from the former US President – were in 1977 and Frost had already been an international celebrity for 15 years, including for the satirical That Was The Week That Was in the 60s. But if those Nixon interviews didn’t make his reputation, they at the very least secured it.
Of course the chess match style of interview with a political heavyweight wasn’t a rarity for Frost: watch him below with Margaret Thatcher in 1985 and witness his quiet courage in the face of Thatcher’s ferocity. Also below is the song Pam and I played in tribute to Frost, Spirits Having Flown by the Bee Gees – click here for why Spirits is my favourite Gibb song.