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Success Stories: David Frost

David Frost was one of the greatest inspirations for me as, both as a writer and as a broadcaster. Sadly,…

By Alun Hill , in Business Success Stories , at

David Frost was one of the greatest inspirations for me as, both as a writer and as a broadcaster.

Sadly, I never had the opportunity to meet him.

  • David Frost was a British broadcaster, comedy writer, author and politician. He was most famous for his interviews with disgraced U.S. President Richard Nixon in 1977—the only talks Nixon had given since he resigned from the Oval Office in 1974—which were broadcast in the United States and attracted a wide television audience of more than 40 million people at home and around the world. The interviews were a major factor in Nixon’s loss of public support, and some believe they hastened his eventual resignation on August 9, 1974.


  • David Paradine Frost was born in Tenterden, Kent, England. His father, Frank Paradine Frost (1905–73), and grandfather (by marriage) were both Methodist ministers. He attended one of the best independent schools in the country at that time—Latymer Upper School in London—on a scholarship. The school encouraged him to perform, and he could often be seen playing piano in school concerts. He even had a jazz trio at Latymer Upper School. He then went on to read Modern History at Christ’s College, Cambridge (1964–67), graduating with a Third-Class Honours degree. Frost graduated from the Cambridge University amateur dramatic club, the Footlights, with a Third-Class Honours degree in English literature in 1967.


  • Frost became an English teacher at St Peter’s School near Dover (1967–68). He began performing comedy after President Nasser of Egypt made a state visit to the school. He developed his distinctive style of delivery by delivering satirical sketches containing observations about these and other events in a deadpan manner, which became popular with audiences. As well, he had already started working on the radio at this time and was a regular performer in cabaret at the Blue Angel nightclub in London’s West End through 1968–69. He became chairman of the Cambridge University Conservative Association and president of the Cambridge Union Society in 1967.


  • Frost then studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama (1969–70) in London, followed by a period at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (1970–71). He also attended the Bruche Film School, run by Bryan Forbes and funded by the City Literary Institute in London, where he finished his first movie screenplay. He lived with actress Caroline Von Paulus in a flat shared with future comedic actor Derren Nesbitt. During this time he was also present at a meeting of the pioneering British comedy group Monty Python where he was randomly assigned to play King Arthur on stage for half an hour. He was later cast at short notice on the strength of this performance in “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” (1969) episode 46, “How to Recognise Different Types of Trees from Quite a Long Way Away”, which first aired on October 6, 1969. He appeared in the different sketches as King Arthur, delivering a stirring address to his troops before a battle and then being thrown by a cow; as well as writing episode 119: “Arthur Quits”.


  • Frost also wrote and performed several radio comedy shows during this time, including “The Frost Report” (1966–67), alongside John Cleese, Graeme Garden and Ronnie Barker. The Frost Report had an uncertain start when the first episode was broadcast on October 11, 1966. It was made by around 25 young writers and performers who had gathered together to write original material for the programme, and so the writing credits alone ran to four pages of Radio Times listings. The satirical edge of this show owed a lot to its producer: John Birt (later head of BBC News and deputy director-general of the BBC), whose father was a member of the Labour cabinet in 1974–75, and who had got his own start in television as an associate producer on “That Was The Week That Was” (1962). It was Birt who wrote the Frost Report on-air joke that kept it on the air, although a dispute over ownership of the material meant that it was not repeated for some time after. This incident later had to be owned up to by the show’s producer, David Attenborough, during his interview for the documentary series “The South Bank Show” (1978).


  • Frost starred in one of BBC Two’s earliest television comedy series “The Frost Report” (1966–67) alongside John Cleese, Ronnie Barker and David Jason which mixed satire with music and sketches. It was the first television show to be written and performed by its on-screen talent.


  • As a result of its innovative style of humour, and Frost’s popularity in particular, it won a special award at the Montreux Festival of Television in 1967. The show also attracted talent to write for them, including musical composer Richard Hartley (who later scored “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”) and future comedy stars such as John Cleese. However, Frost was not seen as the leader of this young group, but as their straight man. As David Frost later said: “I was the talent… but I didn’t create the division of talent. I had nothing to do with it, I was just there.” He also appeared in “At Last the 1948 Show” during 1967 and 1968 as a regular cast member, although he did not appear in the third series of six programmes in 1969. Frost was not comfortable with some of the others’ anti-establishment style and declined to be interviewed for Mark Lewisohn’s 2006 book “The Complete “Monty Python” Companion”.


  • Frost played a variety of roles in television comedy before becoming the best known personality on television after his interviews with disgraced US President Richard Nixon in 1977. Frost was by then an award-winning broadcaster and familiar to millions from his TV, radio and stage work. He had hosted his own chat show, “The Frost Programme” (1966–67), a topical discussion programme for the BBC, and in 1969 he had appeared in the pilot episode of “Two of a Kind”, a comedy series starring Scottish actor Mackenzie Crook.


  • In 1977, Frost began hosting a new programme called “The Frost Report”. It was a spin-off from his talk show, and it was similar to the original 1966-67 series. Each week, Frost would interview two celebrities. The interviews were filmed in front of an audience at Broadcasting House and shown both on BBC One and on public television stations in the US during 1978. This show established him as one of Britain’s leading broadcasters.


  • In 1977 and 1978, Frost hosted “Saturday Night Live” on several occasions.


  • Frost began hosting the TV show “Frost Over America” in September 1978. This was a series on which he interviewed prominent people, first in America, then in the UK. It was a success in both countries and made him a well-known celebrity worldwide. He interviewed Princess Anne in November 1978, although this interview caused controversy at the time because Frost asked her tough questions about her divorce; the Queen herself telephoned Frost to thank him for his directness, saying she would not have dared ask Anne such things herself. The show ran until 1981.


  • In 1979, Frost had a voice-over role in the Australian animated film “The City Tree”. In 1979 he also narrated the short-lived cartoon series “The World of Captain Scott”, produced by The Walt Disney Company.


  • Frost was chosen as host of the UK franchise of the children’s television series “Mr. Men” (1980–1984), and provided narration for the British dubs of many children’s movies, including “Ferngully: The Last Rainforest”, “”, and “Heidi”. He began hosting a talk show, which was named after him in 1982; it ran until 2002, when he quit to concentrate on his work with the BBC. The show had various names throughout the years, including “Frost Over the World” (1981–1998), and “David Frost: Into the Light” (1999). He also began producing and presenting documentaries such as “The Secret Life of Mugshots” (1988) and in 1993 he hosted the three-part special series “The British” on PBS, a biography of the people of Britain.


  • In November 1993, during a break from his involvement with “Breakfast with Frost”, he was invited to participate in an election debate on ITV with main party leaders John Major, John Redwood and Paddy Ashdown. In 1994–95 he hosted another programme, which originated at his production company before being handed over to BBC Scotland. He was also chairman of the appeal committee for Save the Children.


  • A memorial service for Frost was held at St Martin-in-the-Fields, in Trafalgar Square; it was attended by many stars from the worlds of television and entertainment. His ashes are interred in the garden of remembrance at Newburn Parish Church, Newcastle upon Tyne. The inscription on his headstone reads: “It wasn’t only the words he said, but how he said them.”


  • Frost’s obituary in “The Guardian” noted that his archive contained more than 10,000 hours of interviews which were donated to Cambridge University.

Winning Words from David Frost:

“Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.”

David Frost, a British journalist and media personality, encapsulated one of the most important concepts of being successful: find something you’re truly passionate about and do it.

If you feel strongly about something, no matter what it is, you’ll most likely enjoy perfecting your skills in that field and becoming an authority on your subject matter – fueling your success.

Your chances of being successful are vastly increased when you’re passionate about what you’re doing.

How to Apply David Frost’s Tip to Your Life

Once you discover your passion, keep doing it to achieve success.

For example:

  • If you loved to work on cars as a teen, figure out a way to continue your mechanical pursuits and get paid for them as an adult.
  • If you’re passionate about baking cookies and cakes, bake plenty of these pastries and sell them.

You see, when you do what you love, you’ll enjoy the time you spend doing it.

Plus, you’ll be compelled to experiment more with your chosen work and become better and better at whatever it is you’re doing.

Your confidence will surge.

So, too, will your success.

Try these tips to bring more of what you love into your work life:

  1. What do you enjoy most? If your current career isn’t one of your choices, then consider bringing one of your hobbies into your work life. By building a career around a beloved hobby, you’ll enjoy your work considerably; then work will be more like play. Rather than quitting your job to do your hobby, try building a side income with your hobby first.
  2. How can you monetize it? Determine several ways you can make a profit from your hobby. Could you sell what you make? Could you teach others your skills? Could you start a related business selling hobby supplies to others? Could you start a website where you discuss your hobby and sell advertising on it to bring in regular income?
  3. Get started. Whatever plans you make for turning what you love into your work, take action toward making it a reality. For example, if you want further education or certification in your chosen line of work, enroll in a class. If you’re going to sell what you make, make some items and sell them – you could use Craigslist, eBay, put up a website, and more.

Passion and enthusiasm are important components of achieving great and lasting success.

Here’s what you need to do today:

Imagine you could be successful at anything.

What would you choose?

Does the idea of achieving it fills you with passion and excitement?

If not, can you think of an alternative?


Picture source: Interviews I Shall Never Forget, 13 October 2011