24 hours in the life of the Frost show 

2 July 2018 tbs.pm/66606

From the Daily Mirror for Saturday 30 September 1967

BREAKFAST with David Frost was strictly a working affair. There were programme editors, writers, researchers, advisers, a producer, a director and a posse of secretaries — sixteen people in all, dotted round a conference table.

It was 10 a.m. in London’s Television House, headquarters of the team producing “The Frost Programme”, which returned to ITV this week.

Frost’s tangy after-shave lotion swamped the smell of coffee and crisp bacon rolls as he got down to planning the night’s edition.

“Now, you lovely people, what shall we do tonight?” he asked, beaming round the table. “We want ideas for short items.”

From a battered black bag Frost produced a pile of notes and newspaper cuttings. He found four felt-tip pens in an inside pocket and flung them down.

A secretary snatched one. “I’ll borrow this so you can steal it from me later,” she told Frost.

Someone criticised a well-known girl singer and suggested Frost should attack her. “No you can attack her physically if you want to but I don’t want to attack people on my programme,” he said firmly.

For two hours the ideas were tossed back and forth, with Frost having the final say.

“A piece explaining why the dockers are unhappy? No, our viewers are intelligent, they’ll have read that in the papers.”

Of a doubtful item he would ask: “But is it refreshingly interesting?”

 

David Frost… a tremendously agile and adaptable mind.

 

TYPICAL reaction to a good idea: “That’s it. Marvellous. Lovely. I like it — let’s do it.

Finally, rough format for the evening show was mapped out and the team broke up to put the programme into shape.

At lunch (another working meal) at l’Escargot, a French restaurant in Soho where he dined on fillet of sole. Frost was kept informed of the latest developments.

 

Unit

 

Rediffusion, London: home of David Frost

Ideas which seemed feasible at breakfast were discarded or adapted.

“You’ve fixed Douglas Jay for the show tonight? Good — I’d like to have a drink with him this afternoon. Say 3.30 p.m.

“What about that film unit out at Norwood? No go? Forget it.

“We’d better be prepared to do the euthanasia item as a standby. Can we get that nice nurse lady in tonight. Just in case everything else falls short?”

By 5 p.m. the programme is at last taking shape and the tension in the team’s fifth floor offices is mounting.

Only Frost seems unmoved. Sitting on a desk swinging his legs he explains how he feels.

“It’s the first day of term so I suppose things are a bit hectic. I don t get worried or nervous, though. I never have.

“The truth is, I work best when there is pressure, panic and the demand and immediacy of live television. I love it because it is so stimulating.”

 


 

BY 7.30 p.m. the script and linking material are written and Frost is driven from Television House to the studios at Wembley.

On the way, 23-year-old Frost, who is getting £1,200 for each of the 54 programmes, masters the script and starts re-writing.

A complete run-through — the first and last rehearsal of the day – begins at 9.30 p.m. with only one hour to go before transmission.

Frost is now concerned with camera angles and production problems.

“Now let’s see. I sit Mr. Shepherd here and then I walk in this direction and look into No. 3 camera. Yes, I’ll remember that.”

The run-through finishes and It is apparent that some cuts are needed to make the programme smoother. Frost begins a conference under the hot lights with producer Geoffrey Hughes and director Bill Stewart.

A plate of steak, bacon, chips and tomatoes is brought In from the canteen for Frost. He eats standing up without interrupting his discussion.

 

Change

 

At the same time he exchanges friendly banter with his agent, Diana Crawford, and instructs an aide to watch ITN’s “News At Ten” which precedes his programme.

“If they cover the same ground as us, we’ll just have to scrap the items,” he says.

TVTimes London for 11-17 November 1967

There are twenty minutes to go before transmission and Frost rushes away to change out of his mauve-striped shirt and black suit with white buttons to a more formal outfit.

Back in his seat, with make-up girls fussing round him and programme staff checking script alterations, Frost sits calmly and unemotionally, waiting for the introductory music to begin.

 

 

In the control room a member of his staff turns to me in admiration.

“He really is an incredible man. He has a tremendously agile and adaptable mind.

“Once he held two meetings at the same time in different rooms of his house. They were both urgent and important, but were not linked.

“One was to discuss production details for an American TV show and the other was for a charity appeal. David alternated between them and got everything finalised.

Embed from Getty Images

 

Ability

 

“In addition to his grasp of detail he has the ability to take a cat-nap of only two or three hours after a hard days work and wake up completely refreshed.”

The programme over, Frost comet into the control room to begin discussing details of the next night’s show.

It is past midnight and a car arrives to take him home to his £25,000 terraced house in South Kensington.

Someone wants to have a private talk before he starts his 10 a.m. office breakfast-conference next day.

“All right” says Frost. “I’ll meet you at 9.30 a.m at the Waldorf Hotel. We’ll have a pre-breakfast breakfast together. How about that?”

You Say

1 response to this article

Les 2 July 2018 at 4:24 pm

Rediffusion were doing some good stuff … including three nights of frost. Would itv have been better with rediffusion weekdays, and abc at the weekend (which most people assumed would happen).
As the 1968 franchise anniversary approachs, a discussion to be had! Certainly in terms of presentation, rediffusion and atv london were far better to watch than the early days of thames and (without logo) london weekend.

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