1 9 9 2 (UK)
42 x 105 minute episodes
Novelist R D Wingfield’s Inspector William “Jack” Frost was untidy, disorganised, and lacked respect for authority – common police procedural tropes loved by viewers.
The character was in good hands when he was transferred to the screen, as many of the writers and directors on A Touch Of Frost had worked on Inspector Morse.
But ITV’s masterstroke was casting David Jason, a household name from BBC sitcoms, as Frost.
While Jason was best known for comedy, he had already moved toward drama with Porterhouse Blue (1974) and The Darling Buds of May (1991). In Frost, the scales tipped even farther, though a dry humour helped to take the edge off the often dark subject matter.
In a small recurring cast of police officers (including Jason’s real-life elder brother, Arthur White, as archivist Ernie Trigg), Frost was paired with a changing lineup of subordinates, each with his or her own foibles.
Notable actors included Neil Stuke, Russell Hunter, Susannah Doyle, Philip Jackson, Cherie Lunghi, and Robert Glenister.
Jack Frost was widowed and living for his job. His lack of respect made him unpopular with his superintendent – “Horn-rimmed Harry” – but his George Cross medal won for bravery (and a knack for solving cases) made him hard for the force to retire.
A wide range of mysteries and strong guest actors helped the show along, but it’s hard to imagine the series being as successful without Jason’s central performance as the lonely, righteous detective with a twinkle in his eye.