The Frost Tapes“Dad did this sort of life philosophy, the personal style of interview.”

As heard on The Ryan Tubridy Show

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Your Dad’s had some people over for Sunday lunch and now they’re out in the back garden, playing football with you. What did he say their names were again? Bush, was itThat Blair guy isn’t taking it easy just because he’s playing with kids, is he? This is what weekends were like in the Frost household when David Frost presented his Sunday morning interview programme, Breakfast with Frost, Wilfred Frost told Ryan Tubridy on Wednesday morning.  

Tony and Dad would clash on an interview on the Sunday morning, but I think they took the Frost v Blair football match much more seriously in the afternoon.” 

David Frost famously interviewed eight British prime ministers, from Wilson to Cameron and seven US presidents, from Nixon to George W Bush. Wilfred has recently discovered thousands of hours of audio footage from the 60s and 70s that the family didn’t know about and Wilfred has been exploring the tapes on a podcast series called, appropriately enough, The Frost TapesAnd the tapes show just how much – and how little – has changed in 50 years. By way of illustration, who said this: 

“The greatest concentration of power in the United States today is not in the White House. It isn’t in the Congress and it isn’t in the Supreme Court. It’s in the media. And it’s too much… It’s too much power and it’s power that the founding fathers would have been very concerned about. 

It’s Richard Nixon, but, really, it could easily be Donald Trump talking at any stage over the last four years. It’s an example of how we have, as Wilfred says to Ryan, come full circle. That circle also contains a never-aired interview David Frost conducted with then-presidential hopeful, one Joseph R Biden in 1987. Wilfred believes it’s eerily relevant to today, largely because of his father’s interviewing style: 

“Even though it was recorded, you know, 20 or 30 years earlier, it felt like it could have been today itself because dad did this sort of life philosophy, the personal style of interview, rather than just, ‘Oh, what’s the policy on this particular latest development in 1987?’” 

You can hear the full conversation between Ryan and Wilfred – including footage from the rediscovered David Frost tapes – by going here. 

And you can download Wilfred’s podcast series, The Frost Tapes, wherever you get your podcasts. 

Niall Ó Sioradáin 

© The Listener 2021

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