It’s been something of a week for drawing breath, what with the announcements of the deaths of first Seamus Heaney, and now David Frost. Both were 74, and both, in very different ways, contributed to the cultural lives of many.
Much as it pains me to say it; if I’m honest, then Frost’s influence on my life has been much greater than that of Heaney’s. I was transfixed, at an impressionable age, like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming car, by That Was The Week That Was on BBC TV.
Devised by Ned Sherrin, fronted by Frost, but with sterling support from many others, TW3 was a satirical landmark in British Television. We shall not see its like again.
It only ran in 1962 and 1963, when I was just 13 and 14. It was a late-night show, live, and ran each week for as long as it took to get through the material, often into the small hours. Looking back, I am slightly surprised that my parents allowed me to watch it at all.
As is quoted on TW3’s Wikipedia page:
“TW3…did its research, thought its arguments through and seemed unafraid of anything or anyone… Every hypocrisy was highlighted and each contradiction was held up for sardonic inspection. No target was deemed out of bounds: royalty was reviewed by republicans; rival religions were subjected to no-nonsense ‘consumer reports’; pompous priests were symbolically defrocked; corrupt businessmen, closet bigots and chronic plagiarists were exposed; and topical ideologies were treated to swingeing critiques.”
So thank you, David Frost (not forgetting Ned Sherrin, Timothy Birdsall, Bernard Levin, Lance Percival, Kenneth Cope, Roy Kinnear, Willie Rushton, Al Mancini, Robert Lang, Frankie Howerd, David Kernan, Millicent Martin, John Albery, John Antrobus, John Betjeman, John Bird, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Peter Cook, Roald Dahl, Richard Ingrams, Lyndon Irving, Gerald Kaufman, Frank Muir, David Nobbs, Denis Norden, Bill Oddie, Dennis Potter, Eric Sykes, Kenneth Tynan, and Keith Waterhouse). You helped form me into the person I am today.