Wales

Sir David Frost: Michael Sheen's tribute to 'unique' broadcaster

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionSheen says Sir David was a "canny man", "very supportive" of Frost/Nixon

Hollywood actor Michael Sheen, who played Sir David Frost in a film about his most famous interview, paid tribute to the broadcaster's "unique career".

Sheen, from Port Talbot, said the veteran journalist and presenter "set the benchmark" for his his gentle style of "grilling".

The 44-year-old star of Frost/Nixon said it was an honour to play Sir David, who has died at the age of 74.

It is suspected he suffered a heart attack while on board a cruise ship.

A family statement said Sir David had been giving a speech aboard the Queen Elizabeth on Saturday night.

'Incredibly supportive'

His career spanned journalism, comedy writing and daytime television presenting, including The Frost Report.

Sir David later conducted a series of interviews with disgraced former US President Richard Nixon, who resigned in 1974 following the Watergate scandal.

Image caption Sheen starred with Frank Langella in Frost/Nixon on stage and screen

Their exchanges inspired the stage play and film Frost/Nixon in which Sheen played Sir David.

Speaking to the BBC following news of Sir David's death, Sheen said: "I didn't meet him before I started playing the role.

"My first meeting with him was at the Donmar Theatre when when we just started doing preview performances - and I'm not sure who was more nervous, me or him.

"He was incredibly supportive all the way through it. He was a canny man as well, he was a shrewd businessman, he would not have got to where he's got without being that way.

"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, so he was very supportive of the whole thing."

Sheen said that while he was growing up in Port Talbot in the 1970s Sir David was part of his "social fabric", carving out a "unique career" as the "first major British TV star".

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

"So it was a real honour to be any way associated with him and a real pleasure to get to know him a little."

Image caption 'I'm not sure who was more nervous' - Sheen recalls meeting Sir David

Sheen recalled Sir David's "legendary" summer parties.

"I went to one last year - it was the only chance I'd had to do that - but the thing I'd always remember is as soon as David saw you the sun comes out.

"You got a sense of the man's power and charisma. He really made you feel like the most important person in the world.

"You can see why he was able to make so many friends and create so many good relationships with people."

"He radiated warmth and enthusiasm for what he did."

More on this story

Around the BBC