1 9 6 6 – 1 9 6 7 (UK)
26 x 25 minute episodes
2 x specials
David Frost’s TV career was launched by That Was The Week That Was, a sketch-based show that mercilessly lampooned politicians and society’s foibles, especially those surrounding class and culture.
In many respects, The Frost Report was its natural successor, inheriting some of the former show’s writers and a lot of its style – a mix of topical monologues, short routines and comic songs.
Old school veterans Frank Muir and Denis Norden worked alongside promising newcomers John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Eric Idle, Michael Palin and Terry Jones (who collectively went on to create Monty Python’s Flying Circus) and Tim Brooke-Taylor and Bill Oddie (two-thirds of The Goodies).
Marty Feldman, Barry Cryer, Neil Shand, Keith Waterhouse, Barry Took and Frost himself also contributed material.
Joining Frost in front of the camera were Cleese, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett (later The Two Ronnies), Sheila Steafel and Nicky Henson, whose efforts were broadcast live in front of a studio audience.
The programme produced one genuinely timeless sketch, ingeniously satirising the British class system. Upper-class John Cleese (6ft 5in), wearing a bowler hat and suit, looks down on middle-class Ronnie Barker (5ft 8in) in his trilby, who in turn looks down on working-class Ronnie Corbett (5ft 1in) in his overalls, but up at Cleese.
“I look up to him because he is upper class”.
“I look down on him because he is lower class”.
“I am middle class”.
The twinning of height and social position, combined with a minimal script, created a classic TV moment.
The Frost Report helped establish satire as a staple of TV comedy and programmes such as Not the 9 O’Clock News clearly drew heavily on it.