Page last updated at 12:56 GMT, Saturday, 28 May 2005 13:56 UK

Hello, good morning and... goodbye

By Barney Jones
Breakfast with Frost editor

David Frost made quite an impact when BBC News signed him up in 1992.

Frost and Kofi Annan

It wasn't just the Bentley, the bonhomie and the total disregard for any rules about non smoking areas.

His contacts book was extraordinary. "Let's get the prime minister for the first show" he said - and the deal was swiftly done.

"Wouldn't it be good to have George Bush while he's still President?" mused Sir David, sitting in Television Centre after the second programme. Minutes later he was speaking to his friend George, in the White House, and arrangements were made.

When it was rumoured Elton John was to play at Diana's funeral, Sir David said he would ring and ask if it was true.

It was, and Elton said he'd come in the day after that extraordinary performance in Westminster Abbey and talk about it, live on the programme.

Name that show

When David agreed to present the new weekly show, the first thing to settle was the title.

There have been remarkable highs
After The Frost Report, Frost over America, Frost on Sunday and David Frost presents, there was clearly one prerequisite.

Thus Breakfast with Frost was born, and a show that has generated more clips on TV and more newspaper headlines than any other news programme on British television embarked on what was to be a 12 year run.

The final edition goes out on Sunday, 29 May.

There have been remarkable highs.

Mandela coming into the studio and dancing while an African band played; getting the first western interview with President Putin - done inside the Kremlin; the first broadcast interview with President Chirac for many years, speaking in English, shot inside the magnificent Elysee Palace.

Anyone for Chinese?

There was also the only exclusive interview George W Bush has given the BBC - conducted inside the White House; a moving interview with the actor Christopher Reeve in studio seven at Television Centre, talking about his determination to walk again.

And the only joint TV interview that President Clinton and Prime Minister Blair did together, when Clinton made an impassioned plea to voters in Northern Ireland to endorse the peace process.

Frost and Kofi Annan

Over the years, there have been some pretty bizarre incidents too, such as persuading the officials at Buckingham Palace to lend us a room when it turned out the only way to get an exclusive joint interview with Becks and Sven was to shoot it a few yards away from where the Queen was holding a reception.

Getting Margaret Thatcher to record an interview in a swish Chinese restaurant so it looked suitably oriental when we played it out during our live coverage of the Hong Kong handover.

Persuading the German penal authorities to allow us to drive a transit van, loaded with recording equipment, inside a high security prison to interview Britain's most notorious fraudster, Nick Leeson.

Restraining Jim Callaghan from gloating too much on air when the joint interview he was doing with Ted Heath fell foul of gremlins and Heath was reduced to mumbling: "I'm sorry I can't quite hear what's going on."

Mini-dramas

Getting John Major and John Redwood both into studio seven for a live programme in the week Redwood was challenging Major for leadership of the party - but having to choreograph it so the two antagonists did not meet.

And there have been a multitude of mini-dramas too.

The glasses that broke just before a live show. The politician angrily threatening to walk out as we went on air unless we promised not to ask a particular question - of course this just strengthens one's resolve.

The recording inside a prison in Doncaster which had to be curtailed when Sir David's confident "Hello, good morning, and welcome" was interrupted by an inmate swearing at him.

Future plans

So, is this the end? Not at all.

From this weekend, Breakfast with Frost becomes broadcasting history, but Sir David Frost sails serenely on.

As well as Through the Keyhole and a host of ongoing radio and TV projects, BBC News has signed him up for a series of one-off interviews.

Pope John Paul II may have escaped his clutches, but a host of other high profile figures will get the Frost treatment over the next two years.

video and audio news
Celebrities and politicians pay tribute to Sir David



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