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Rediff.com  » News » Veteran British broadcaster David Frost dies at 74

Veteran British broadcaster David Frost dies at 74

September 01, 2013 19:41 IST

Veteran British journalist and broadcaster Sir David Frost, best known for his series of interviews with disgraced United States President Richard Nixon, has died after a suspected heart attack while on board a cruise ship. He was 74.

Frost died of a suspected heart attack on last night aboard the Queen Elizabeth cruise ship, where he was due to give a speech, the family said. The cruise company Cunard said its vessel left the English port of Southampton on Saturday for a 10-day cruise in the Mediterranean.

"His family is devastated and ask for privacy at this difficult time. A family funeral will be held in the near future and details of a memorial service will be announced in due course," a statement issued by his family said. Besides journalism, his career spanned comedy writing and daytime television presenting, including 'Breakfast with Frost' which was also telecast in India.

His signature catchphrase -- "hello, good evening and welcome" -- and inimitable interview style made him a celebrity worldwide.

Frost did not become internationally known until 1977, when he secured a series of revealing television interviews with Nixon, recently turned into a successful stage and film production as 'Frost Nixon'.

Nixon at one point let down his guard, telling Frost, "I'm saying when the president does it, that means it's not illegal." For many viewers, that moment cemented Nixon's infamy. British Prime Minister David Cameron paid his condolences: "My heart goes out to David Frost's family. He could be -- and certainly was with me -- both a friend and a fearsome interviewer."

Born in Kent, England, Frost studied at the CambridgeUniversity where he became secretary of the Footlights club and met future comedy greats such as Graham Chapman. After university he went to work at ITV before he was asked to front the BBCprogramme 'That Was The Week That Was', which ran between 1962 and 1963.

Casting a satirical eye over the week's news, the show boasted scriptwriters such as well known comic actor John Cleese. Frost spent two decades as TV host of Through the Keyhole and from 2006-2012 presented the weekly programme Frost Over the World on Al Jazeera English.

In a career spanning over 50 years Frost's list of interviewees included virtually every US president and British prime minister. Outside world affairs, his interview roster ranged from Tennessee Williams, Woody Allen, Muhammad Ali, the Beatles and Clint Eastwood, to name a few.

His non-aggressive and affable technique of drawing out information from his subjects will continue to be emulated by conscientious journalists around the world.

Image: British television presenter David Frost leaves after attending the funeral service of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher at St Paul's Cathedral, in London

Photograph: Olivia Harris/Reuters

Aditi Khanna in London
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