Sir Michael Parkinson leads tributes to Sir David Frost

A look back at the life of Sir David Frost

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Sir Michael Parkinson has led the tributes to broadcaster and writer Sir David Frost, who died at the age of 74 on Saturday following a heart attack.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5Live, the veteran chat show host described Sir David as "a huge influence" on him and "my entire generation of journalists".

He praised Sir David's "great forensic skill", his "strict moral sense" and "great sense of the dramatic".

Sir David had a heart attack while on board the Queen Elizabeth cruise ship.

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

Sir John Birt, former director general of the BBC and the producer of Sir David's famous interviews with Richard Nixon, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that Sir David "had a lawyer's ability... with a powerful intellect".

Sir David conducted a series of interviews with Mr Nixon in 1977 in which the former president came close to apologising to the public for his role in the Watergate scandal.

Sir Michael Parkinson on Sir David Frost

Sir David was a huge influence, particularly on That Was the The Week That Was. It wasn't just me, it was my entire generation of journalists who were attracted to this new concept. You have to put it in context, it was a dreary time. We'd just survived the 50s, England was drab and grey and all of a sudden this wonderful programme lit up the screen. It was irreverent, it punched politicians on the nose, it made people offended and any young person worth any blood in their veins would want to be part of that.

What the Emil Suvundra interview pointed out was David's great forensic skill in taking on people like Suvundra, who were crooks. His moral outrage wasn't a pose, his father was a minister. David was a Christian man in many ways and he had a strict moral sense. And he was offended by people who were cheats and robbers and thieves. He also had a great sense of the dramatic. He was as much an actor as he was an interviewer in many ways. He knew how to build tension, how to create an atmosphere so it became like a movie, a play, it had drama.

Mr Nixon famously admitted he had let down his friends, the country and the American people.

"He said those words because in the end, David had him on the ropes so many times... he completely out-argued him," said Sir John.

Actor Michael Sheen, who played Sir David in the play Frost/Nixon and the film of the same name, also paid tribute.

"He was incredibly supportive... he was a very canny man.

"He had a totally unique career, no-one could do any more. He was the first major British TV star."

Sheen added that when Sir David came to greet you, "he really made you feel like you were the most important person in the world.

"He was a fixture, part of our social fabric."

Frost/Nixon playwright Peter Morgan said: "He was a legendary broadcasting figure and a member of the British broadcasting landscape for two generations and in many ways his success was very un-English.

"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."

Sir David Frost Tributes from the worlds of entertainment and politics have been paid to Sir David

Frost Report writer and Monty Python star Eric Idle tweeted: "Very sad to hear of the loss of David Frost. He gave most of us our first big break in TV. Wrote for him for many years."

Most of the future Monty Python team honed their skills on the Frost Report before going on to launch the famous Flying Circus.

A family statement said Sir David was aboard the Queen Elizabeth on Saturday night where he was to give a speech.

"His family are devastated and ask for privacy at this difficult time. A family funeral will be held in the near future and details of a memorial service will be announced in due course."

Breakfast with Frost editor Barney Jones worked on the show for more than 10 years, and said of his friend and colleague: "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."

Prime Minister David Cameron said: "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."

In the 90s, Sir David presented Through the Keyhole, which he also produced, alongside Loyd Grossman.

The show saw Grossman take a tour round the home of a celebrity while a panel of guests tried to guess "who lives in a house like this".

Paying tribute to his friend, Grossman said: "He so effortlessly roamed all across the piste... from comedy to current affairs to light entertainment for 50 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."

In 1993, the year he was knighted, he began presenting Breakfast with Frost - which had begun life on ITV - a Sunday show on BBC in which he interviewed newsworthy figures.

BBC director general Tony Hall said: "From satire to comedy to the big political interviews, for more than 50 years he brought us the history of the world we live in today, that's the mark of the man."

BBC broadcaster Andrew Marr added: "David Frost changed British broadcasting not once but twice. He was a prime mover in the satire boom of the 1960s. A lot of that was down to him and his drive and shaping, influence and personality.

"And then he changed the whole style of political interviewing, what could be said, how it was done, the whole approach. And I think today there are two types of political interviewer - those who've learnt from David Frost, and second rate interviewers."

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