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Profile: Sir David Frost

24 November 09 12:24 GMT

Sir David Frost has been honoured with a lifetime achievement award at the International Emmys in New York.

The 70-year-old is a broadcasting phenomenon - the son of a Methodist minister who became a household name on both sides of the Atlantic, a multi-millionaire and a friend of the great and the good.

After studying at Cambridge University, he came to television in the early 1960s, presenting the mould-breaking BBC satirical show That Was the Week That Was.

With his mocking delivery and use of headline language, he became a national figure and before long he found fame in the US, commuting regularly across the Atlantic.

His catchphrase, "hello, good evening and welcome", was to become much-mimicked.

Trial by TV

Sir David mixed pure entertainment - with shows like The Frost Report, which brought together Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett - with serious political interviews with the likes of US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and British Prime Minister Harold Wilson.

In 1969, he also introduced the much-criticised trial by television, notably of Emil Savundra - head of a cut-price car insurance company which swindled thousands of motorists.

The presenter was visibly angry at Savundra's evasions.

In 1977, he used the format to take US President Richard Nixon to task over the Watergate political scandal.

In the interviews, watched by 45 million people, Nixon ultimately admitted his part in the scandal which led to his resignation two years earlier.

The story of their verbal battle was brought to a new generation with the 2008 release of Frost/Nixon - a film based on those interviews, starring Michael Sheen as the British contender and an Oscar-nominated Frank Langella as the disgraced politician.

David Parradine Frost was born in Tenterden, Kent, though the family later moved to Suffolk.

After a grammar school education, he went to Cambridge, where he was editor of student publication Granta and active in the Footlights theatre company.

He presented three programmes on ITV before That Was the Week that Was.

Ali interview

The list of Sir David's television programmes is a long one - The Frost Programme, Frost on Friday, A Degree of Frost, Not So Much A Programme, More a Way of Life to name but a few.

There was also the Frost Over series. Frost Over England in 1967 won an award at Montreux. Others were about America, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

The Frost Programme was the first current affairs programme to use a participating audience.

A variety of interview-based programmes followed. Recorded primarily in the UK and America, they were broadcast all over the world.

Interviewees from the world of showbiz included The Beatles, Mick Jagger, Orson Welles, Tennessee Williams and Noel Coward.

Prince Charles was interviewed on the eve of his investiture as Prince of Wales.

Muhammad Ali was interviewed in New York and later in Zaire.

Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Heenan came into his studio and US political activist Abbie Hoffman and his Youth International party, aka the "Yippies", took over during a live show.

Sir David was a joint founder of London Weekend Television and one of the famous five presenters-cum-shareholders behind breakfast television station TV-am, which launched in 1983.

His Frost on Sunday programme began on the station in 1984, running until 1992.

In 1993, he began presenting Breakfast with Frost on the BBC - his first regular weekly show for the corporation since That Was The Week That Was.

His new show - also on a Sunday morning - ran for 500 editions, ending in May 2005.

Since 2006, Sir David has presented weekly current affairs programme Frost All Over The World on the Al Jazeera English Channel.

Recent interviewees have included Prime Minister Gordon Brown and former US Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

Sir David has written a number of books, produced eight films and has received many major TV awards, in the UK and internationally.

In the early 1980s, he was briefly married to Peter Sellers' widow, Lynne Frederick. In 1983, he married Lady Carina Fitzalan-Howard, a daughter of the Duke of Norfolk.

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