Entertainment & Arts

Sir David Frost's death: Tributes to 'fearsome interviewer'

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Media captionWatch some of the highlights from his Sunday morning show Breakfast with Frost - which ran on the BBC from 1993 until 2005

Known for his catchphrase "hello, good evening and welcome", broadcaster Sir David Frost, who has died at the age of 74, was a formidable interviewer.

Friends, colleagues and past interviewees have paid tribute to the broadcaster.

Prime Minister David Cameron

Image caption The prime minister said Sir David had had a huge impact on television and politics

"My heart goes out to Carina and the family.

"Sir David was an extraordinary man, with charm, wit, talent, intelligence and warmth in equal measure.

"He made a huge impact on television and politics.

"The Nixon interviews were among the great broadcast moments - but there were many other brilliant interviews. He could be - and certainly was with me - both a friend and a fearsome interviewer."

Tony Blair

The former prime minister referred to Sir David as a "huge figure in broadcasting, a great professional and a good friend".

"He had an extraordinary ability to draw out the interviewee, knew exactly where the real story lay and how to get at it, and was also a thoroughly kind and good natured man.

"Being interviewed by him was always a pleasure but also you knew that there would be multiple stories the next day arising from it."

Barney Jones, editor of Breakfast with Frost

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Media captionSir David interviewed many former presidents including George W Bush

"David loved broadcasting, did it brilliantly for more than 50 years and was eagerly looking forward to a host of projects - including interviewing the prime minister next week - before his sudden and tragic death. We will all miss him enormously."

He added: "The famous contacts book - quite early on when we were working together, we'd done the prime minister of the day and the leader of the opposition of the day, he said 'wouldn't it be quite a trick if we could get the president of the United States?' and I said of course David that would be brilliant.

"He said 'hang on a moment', and he took me into my little office, scrabbled around in his contacts book, and five minutes later he was talking to George Bush. I couldn't believe it."

Loyd Grossman

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Media captionFormer colleague Loyd Daniel Grossman said Sir David Frost was a "wonderful person to work with"

The television presenter who worked with Sir David on Through The Keyhole, told BBC News: "He so effortlessly roamed all across the piste... from comedy to current affairs to light entertainment for fifty years.

"Yet in his presence you forgot you were dealing with the Leviathan of broadcasting and just thought here is a wonderful man, generous, enthusiastic and always excited. He was in love with television."

Sir Michael Parkinson

Image caption Sir David and Sir Michael worked together on TV-AM in the 1980s

Speaking to BBC Radio Berkshire, he said: "He was a remarkable man, I was lucky to know him. He was extraordinary and inspired a generation.

"An incredibly talented man, adept at so many things, an all rounder.

"He was part of the cultural opening up of the 1960s, and he broke boundaries.

"Sir David was also an entrepreneur who helped put together the Two Ronnies, and helped the Pythons get together.

"The Nixon interview was a huge gamble, he had to mortgage his house, but one of the best political interviews of all time."

Bob Zelnick

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Media captionExecutive editor of the Frost Nixon interviews, Bob Zelnick on Sir David

The executive director on the Nixon interviews on the Watergate scandal said: "Every one of us involved in that project knew that we could not survive with our reputations anywhere near intact if the perception was that Nixon had successfully countered us.

"The fact that it drew almost universal praise was a tribute to David's hard work and his very, very tough attitude once the bell rang and the fight started."

Michael Sheen

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Media captionActor Michael Sheen, who played Sir David in the film Frost/Nixon: "He was able to put people at their ease and bring things out"

The actor played Sir David in the film version of Frost/Nixon.

Speaking to BBC News, he said: "Famously he was an incredibly positive man.

"I don't think there was anyone who ever heard him say anything negative about anyone, he never had a bad word to say about anyone. I think we sorely tested him by putting his life up on stage and screen.

"He was incredibly supportive and he was a very canny man, a shrewd businessman who wouldn't have got where he got without being that way so he knew that this was potentially a good thing, that one of his greatest achievements was going to be very much back in the public eye and for a new generation as well.

"He was so nice, such a warm man and he was able to put people at their ease, and then his instinct for what made good television always got interesting and difficult things out of people.

"It was a real honour to be any way associated with him."

John Cleese

Image caption John Cleese worked with Sir David on the Frost Report

The actor, who played a prominent role in The Frost Report, said: "I was very, very sad to hear of David's death. I had known him for 52 years and I was extraordinarily fond of him.

"He was always fun and kind and interesting and I never heard him make a mean comment about anyone.

"I owe a great deal of my professional career to David and I am very grateful for what he did for me.

"Life is going to feel rather diminished by the loss of his welcoming, cheery and optimistic voice."

Joan Bakewell

The broadcaster said: "He had a finger in many, many pies and although he was a wonderful interviewer and interrogator it can't be forgotten that he was also a businessman and ran companies.

"He produced films. He wrote 17 books.

"He was hyperactive, David, he had enormous energy, a questing mind, a very great sense of curiosity about the world and how it worked and how people worked."

Alastair Campbell

Image caption Sir David interviewed prime ministers including Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher

Tony Blair's former communications director told BBC News: "It's really, really sad. He was somebody you could be very close to and I would say he was a great friend to me and I hope I was to his family."

Mr Campbell added that Sir David had an extraordinary social life but that he never stopped working. He said he made relationships with people so that you would prefer to say yes than no to him even though you knew it would not be an easy ride.

"He was an incredibly nice person but if a question had to be asked he would ask it, and he would ask it very directly.

"Tony Blair said in his book Sir David was one of the best as he was so nice - by the time you answered the question you probably said something you didn't mean to."

Esther Rantzen

The TV personality said: "I think fellow interviewers have always been awestruck by David Frost's capacity to elicit memorable, sometimes historically significant quotes from all the movers and shakers or our time - presidents, prime ministers, A-list celebrities.

"But for all of us who had the pleasure of knowing him socially, it is his kindness, generosity, loyalty and humour that we will miss so much.

"His summer party was always the best party of the year. His fund of anecdotes and his constant wit was a joy. In fact, it was always his greeting, 'a joy to meet you', and it was always a joy to meet him."

Sir Menzies Campbell

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Media captionSir David gave his top tips on political interviews to Andrew Neil

The former Liberal Democrat leader said: "To be interviewed by David Frost was never a chore, even when trying to defend the indefensible.

"But his scrupulous and disarming politeness hid a mind like a vice.

"David Frost could do you over without you realising it until it was too late. He was a peerless broadcaster."

Peter Morgan

Playwright Peter Morgan, who wrote Frost/Nixon, said: "He was a pioneer. He combined being a satirist and someone who one satirised.

"It was an extraordinary, four-dimensional, vivid career...and he was a great lunch."

Peter Fincham

The director of television at ITV said: "David Frost was one of the giants of television. He co-founded London Weekend Television and was a hugely influential figure in the development of ITV.

"He was a major presence on screen for five decades, able to switch effortlessly from light entertainment to interviewing world leaders.

"And he was the most courteous and generous man you could hope to meet, always making it seem that it was his great good fortune to know you, rather than vice versa.

"He was the epitome of old school charm."

Sir Victor Blank

The chairman of the female health charity Wellbeing of Women said: "David was also a marvellous husband, father and friend, but not often recognised is the time, generosity and support he gave to so many charities, not least the 25 years he has spent helping Wellbeing of Women."

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Media captionA look back at the life of Sir David Frost

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