Frost memorial 'the perfect party'
12:27pm Thursday 13th March 2014 in © Press Association 2014
The Prince of Wales was among more than 2,000 of the great and good from entertainment, politics and royalty packing Westminster Abbey today to pay tribute to late broadcaster Sir David Frost.
Figures such as Sir Michael Parkinson, Rowan Atkinson and Sir Michael Caine were among the congregation at a memorial service to celebrate the well-connected presenter, interviewer and satirist whose TV career spanned five decades and famously hosted parties in which the invitation list looked like a "who's who".
Guests heard prayers read by Ronnie Corbett and comedy verse performed by Joanna Lumley, celebrating the much-loved TV star.
And former BBC director-general Greg Dyke - who gave the address - joked that the gathering in the Abbey looked "remarkably like one of David's summer parties but without the alcohol".
Other leading figures who spoke to honour him were current BBC director-general Lord Hall, as well as chat host Sir Michael, who delivered readings.
The Dean of Westminster, the Very Rev Dr John Hall, said Sir David was "amongst our greatest communicators".
He said: "Surely it was the warmth of his humanity, his interest in people, and what made them tick, that made his 'Hello, good evening and welcome' welcome in the world's living rooms."
Charles was joined by Sir David's widow, Lady Carina Fitzalan-Howard, to lay flowers on a memorial stone dedicated to the broadcaster, who died last August aged 74. The inscription read: "1939 Sir David Frost OBE, Broadcaster, 2013".
Other royal guests invited to the memorial service included the Countess of Wessex, the Duke of York and his daughter, Princess Beatrice.
Two of Sir David's sons read poems, and hymns included He Who Would Valiant Be and Jerusalem.
The service reflected the thread of humour and satire which ran through his career, with a comic tribute from Lumley called A Sonnet Of Sorts For A Star, which she co-wrote with musician Sir Richard Stilgoe.
It began: "Shall I compare thee to Sir Robin Day? Thou wert more lovely and more temperate. Earth has not anything to show more fair. Hello, good evening, welcome, Frosty's there."
The humorous tribute included the lines: "No more TV-am, no Al Jazeera - We end not a career, but end an era; For now he's gone, ascended into orbit, And 'I look up to him' (quoth Ronnie Corbett)." It concluded with the line: "When Frost has gone, can spring be far behind?"
Known for his incisive interviews - above all, with disgraced US president Richard Nixon - Sir David spent more than 50 years as a television star.
His award-winning interview style was considered non-aggressive, affable and effusive - but he had a talent for extracting intriguing information and revealing reactions from his subjects.
During his series of five interviews with Nixon in 1977, the slippery former president known as "Tricky Dicky" dramatically admitted that he had "let down the country".
The encounter later formed the basis of the play Frost/Nixon, which was made into a hit film, with Michael Sheen playing Sir David.
The memorial was a star-studded affair, attended by Pippa Middleton, David Walliams and his wife Lara Stone, Julian Fellowes, Sir Terry Wogan, Esther Rantzen, Stephen Fry, Anne Robinson and Angus Deayton.
Guests from the political sphere included Cherie Blair and Sarah Brown.
The service included a montage of highlights from Frost's famous broadcasting career, including his famous Nixon interviews and Tony Blair's surprised reaction when he asked him if he and George Bush pray together.
Mr Dyke spoke of Sir David's talents and how he made "television history", but also joked about his "shortcomings".
Sir David never mastered technology, even "old technology", he said, recounting how, when they walked past a cash machine, and "I said 'Hang on a minute, I need to get some money', he looked at me in awe. He'd never used a cash machine in his whole life."
Sir David, despite changing the face of television, also used to get his sons to help him tune in the TV to the football match he wanted to watch, he said.
He drew laughter when he said that when Carina, after she first met Sir David, was asked whether he was a religious man, she replied: "Oh yes, he's very religious. He thinks he's God."
He added: "He was a self-confessed workaholic but also he was David the friend, David the father and David, Carina's husband."
Paying tribute to his talents, he said the late broadcaster was "unique", adding: "There will never be another David Frost, dominating the television industry in the way he did."
But he said that despite changing not just television but "Britain forever", Sir David wanted to be remembered as a "family man... father... and caring, funny and generous friend".
Mr Dyke joked that while Sir David did not touch alcohol for the first 18 years of his life, he "made up for it after that".
He said that when broadcasters initially failed to recognise his talents it was the "television equivalent of Decca turning down the Beatles".
Guest Claudia Winkleman said the service was "beautiful", while Sue Lawley said afterwards: "It was completely right, perfect. He was remembered as a legend."
John Sergeant said: "It was like the last of the great Frost parties. It was perfect for him, absolutely perfect."