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Tributes flood in after death of chat show legend David Frost

By Alex Diaz and Katie Hodge

Friends and admirers of Sir David Frost have hailed his "extraordinary" life after "one of the giants of television" suddenly died from a heart attack aged 74.

Sir David's family said they had been left "devastated" by his death on the Queen Elizabeth cruise ship, where he was giving a speech.

Known for his incisive interviews –above all with disgraced US president Richard Nixon – he spent more than 50 years as a television star.

As soon as the news broke, there was an outpouring of tributes for a man who began his career as a satirist and went on to interview virtually every US president and British prime minister during his working life.

One of those expressing his admiration was Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams who spoke of his emotion at the news.

Mr Adams said: "I have heard of the death of David Frost with a deep sense of sadness. I was interviewed by David many times.

"He was always courteous, good-humoured, well-researched and keenly interested in Ireland and the peace process.

"David's style of interview was unique and effective."

Fellow chat show host Sir Michael Parkinson said he had spoken to his friend of 40 years for the last time just a few days ago and they had arranged to meet in the coming week.

"He was just an extraordinary guy, non-judgmental in that he didn't bring any prejudices to his work," Sir Michael said.

"But it's not right to say he was a 'soft' interviewer – he had a totally persuasive interview style which led to the unmasking of a scoundrel."

Actor and comedian Stephen Fry, who spoke to Sir David on Friday, said that he had sounded well and was "excited about a house move, full of plans".

Prime Minister David Cameron described him as "an extraordinary man – with charm, wit, talent, intelligence and warmth in equal measure" who had "made a huge impact on television and politics".

Entertainer John Cleese, whose career Sir David helped to launch, said: "Life is going to feel rather diminished by the loss of his welcoming, cheery and optimistic voice."

Peter Fincham, director of television at ITV, described him as the "epitome of old school charm" while playwright Peter Morgan, who wrote the film Frost/Nixon, said he was "a legendary broadcasting figure", a "pioneer" who "combined being a satirist and someone who one satirised".

Those who knew Sir David well pointed to his cherished role as a loving husband to his wife Lady Carina Fitzalan-Howard and father to their three sons.

During his series of five interviews with Nixon in 1977, the notoriously slippery former president known as 'Tricky Dicky' dramatically admitted that he had "let down the country".

Other historic moments in his career included a tense interview with Margaret Thatcher over the sinking of the Argentine warship the Belgrano during the Falklands conflict in which he suddenly introduced the word "bonkers".

BACKGROUND

David Frost was born on April 7, 1939, the son of a Methodist preacher, at Tenterden, Kent,.

His big break came when he co-created and hosted satirical show That Was The Week That Was in the early '60s. Another of his early programmes, The Frost Report, effectively launched John Cleese, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett on their glittering careers. He was currently working for Al Jazeera English and had recently interviewed F1 driver Lewis Hamilton.

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