Remembering Sir David Frost

The television personality who so famously “rose without trace” has died at the age of 74. The BBC’s potted biography gets the basic facts across without much commentary about whether there was ever really much more to Frost than some cleverness and the remarkable luck of coming of age alongside television.

Two opinions on that question come from creative artists. Ron Howard made a tremendous film about Frost’s interviews of Nixon that portrayed Frost with complexity and some sympathy. Very much worth your time, not least for the fine performances of the two leads.

A more hostile take comes from the Pythons, who worked for Frost early in their career and came away highly unimpressed. They got their vengeance in several ways, including listing his home phone number on their Mouse Problem sketch and then skewering him as “Timmy Williams”

Author: Keith Humphreys

Keith Humphreys is the Esther Ting Memorial Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University and an Honorary Professor of Psychiatry at Kings College London. His research, teaching and writing have focused on addictive disorders, self-help organizations (e.g., breast cancer support groups, Alcoholics Anonymous), evaluation research methods, and public policy related to health care, mental illness, veterans, drugs, crime and correctional systems. Professor Humphreys' over 300 scholarly articles, monographs and books have been cited over thirteen thousand times by scientific colleagues. He is a regular contributor to Washington Post and has also written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Monthly, San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian (UK), The Telegraph (UK), Times Higher Education (UK), Crossbow (UK) and other media outlets.

3 thoughts on “Remembering Sir David Frost”

  1. “…whether there was ever really much more to Frost than some cleverness and the remarkable luck of coming of age alongside television.”

    Hmmm … Johnny Carson? Was there “much more to him” than cleverness and being in TV at a time when his style was appreciated?

    I don’t think I ever worried about “more to him.” I simply enjoyed Frost’s show, his urbane style, his generally relaxed demeanor, and the variety of guests he entertained.

  2. I think many (American) folks were taken in by the urbanity and accent.
    Sort of like that idiot Piers Morgan on CNN.

    I never got the adoration for the Nixon interviews.
    He was clever and ambitious.

  3. So you think Americans liked him because he sounded English ? That’s weird: my own reaction
    was that I never really liked him because he *didn’t* sound English. In England, most
    people’s accents and speech patterns identify where they grew up to within about a 30-mile
    radius, and what kind of education they had. Frost just sounded weird – until I looked him
    up on wikipedia, I’d always thought he must have grown up outside England.

    A further weirdness is that he made his name in comedy with TW3, but by the time I became aware of him,
    maybe around 1970, he seemed a rather humorless figure. Clearly he was smart, took risks,
    and had a rather remarkable career. But I still don’t have much of a clue what he was about.

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