Page last updated at 09:32 GMT, Thursday, 16 April 2009 10:32 UK

Freud was 'immensely charming'

Sir Clement Freud

Broadcaster Stephen Fry has paid tribute to writer and former Liberal MP Sir Clement Freud who has died aged 84.

I was of the generation that saw him with Henry the bloodhound and I got to know him because I was lucky enough to do a few Just a Minutes and I became immensely fond of him.

I was at first very afraid of him - a lot of people were. There were a lot of stories that he was immensely grouchy and rude sometimes to people that asked for autographs - but I never experienced that side of him at all.

Another element to him that should not go unmentioned is his raffishness, or his air of disreputability. During the 50s and 60s he was a real Soho figure. He knew all girls of easy virtue, he knew the pimps, the racetrack tipsters, and the restaurateurs where he learnt his business as a chef.

His fund of stories of that time was remarkable. He lived a sort of life on the edge - his brother Lucien is known as the more bohemian as an artist but Clement had that quality too.

To perform with he was immensely generous. If he approved of the way people were talking on Just a Minute he would nod his head slowly and sagely. He was immensely good company; and he enjoyed particularly meeting new young comedians. He became very fond of that new generation led by Paul Merton.

He was proud of his period as an MP - he told me a very good story about when he was in China on an MP junket and the grandson of Winston Churchill was there.

He was in a hotel and went for a nightcap in Winston Churchill's room and noticed it was a lot bigger so he said the next day: 'I noticed my room is rather smaller than Mr Churchill's room - is that because he is part of the government that his party is in power and mine isn't?' and they said: 'No, it's because he has a famous grandfather', and Clement said to me: 'It's the only time I've been out-grandfathered'.

Despite his grouchiness, he was a benevolent, wonderful and charming man.

My favourite memory is the sight of him in full flow on Just a Minute in his 80s and still able to trip up people a quarter of his age.




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SEE ALSO
Writer Clement Freud dies aged 84
16 Apr 09 |  Entertainment
Obituary: Sir Clement Freud
16 Apr 09 |  Entertainment
Freud named as St Andrews rector
26 Oct 02 |  Scotland

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