In 1963 there was a revolution in television. With the evening programme That was the Week that was television satire was born. It brought to prominence a young crew-cut intellectual, David Frost, for whom nothing was sacred (although his father was a vicar). Suddenly, to the delight of free-thinking teenage rebels like myself, all the stuffy old Establishment figures became a legitimate target for ridicule. This included the Prime Minister, the entire Cabinet and the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The programme included sketches which debunked the sacred cows of class distinction and religious bigotry. Because at the time my friends and I were heavily into Existentialism, The Rolling Stones and The Quiet American by Graham Greene, this TV programme and the new concept of merciless satire suited us to a T. We seemed to be threatening a stodgy old order and looking towards the glittering prizes of the future.
That was the Week that was included such giant talents as Ronnie Barker, Ronnie Corbett, John Cleese, Bernard Levin and Millicent Martin, not to mention Willy Rushton and others too numerous to list. This was part of the tsunami which ushered in the Sixties. Even the relationship between parents and their offspring was to change, the very fabric of society was to stretch until it ripped. Members of the aristocracy smoked cannabis and mixed with the brand new aristocracy, Mick Jagger and John Lennon. Poets such as Adrian Henri and Roger McGough became sort of pop stars, together with photographers such as David Bailey. A wave of new trend-setters thrust aside the tired world of debutantes, people who wore horse-hair wigs and people who had gone to Eton and Harrow.
David Frost and his team were dangerous because they were clever and seemed to know the price of everything but the value of nothing. Instead of blue blood they had a university degree and were the archetypal bright young things. David Frost wore his hair very short and looked strikingly like Albert Camus, a man who believed in the ultimate futility of life.
However, all things must pass and David Frost, like most rebels, was drawn into the very Establishment which he had so ridiculed. He became one of the new ruling class, he smoked big cigars and commuted between Britain and the USA on a jet airliner, mixing with presidents, movers and shakers.
Now at last, in an age when rebellion is futile because there is nothing to kick against, no boundaries and no real standards, David Frost has left us to ponder his eventful life and the fact that workaholics don't live to a hundred. For me personally he epitomised my youth together with Lawrence of Arabia and D H Lawrence. Rest in peace, David.
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