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Sky Sets Star-Studded David Frost Documentary Series ‘The Frost Tapes’

Sky Sets Star-Studded David Frost Documentary Series ‘The Frost Tapes’

Sky Sets Star-Studded David Frost Documentary Series ‘The Frost Tapes’

Comcast-owned Sky‘s Sky Documentaries and its streaming service Now will give viewers a front-row seat for an exploration of recent history and topics that have shaped it, along with big names that played key roles in it – all through the eyes of legendary journalist and interviewer Sir David Frost. On Thursday, it unveiled a documentary series with the working title The Frost Tapes, which will start airing later this year.

The series will explore social, political, and cultural change via Frost who had a front-row seat to it all, “unveiling a fresh perspective on today through the battles of yesterday,” according to a plot summary. Frost became a household name around the world for his TV interviews with former U.S. President Richard Nixon. “Seen through Frost’s eyes, we encounter the mid-to-late 20th century as a furnace of change and uncertainty that continues to permeate current affairs,” a Sky show description emphasizes.

The six-part series, made in collaboration with David Frost’s son Wilfred, is a Sky Studios production, with Frost’s Paradine Productions and White Horse Pictures serving as co-producers. Paradine was David Frost’s middle name.

Drawing from Frost’s archive of more than 10,000 era-defining interviews recorded over more than 50 years, many of which had been lost for a generation, the documentary series takes viewers on a journey through important moments of the late 20th century via Frost’s conversations with the protagonists, with clear parallels to today. The archive footage is supplemented by interviews with an extraordinary list of new contributors, such as Liam Neeson, Joanna Lumley, Khalilah Ali, Michael Sheen and Tony Blair, “who help uncover Frost’s incredible life and career as one of the nation’s most renowned television hosts and journalists,” according to a show summary.

“Across the series, Frost’s career acts as a spine, as we journey through recent history via his astonishing rise, with commentary and insights from the family and famous faces who knew him best,” Sky said. “Each episode is anchored around Frost’s interviews with one key personality, providing a springboard into deeply relevant subject matters; from explosive encounters with Muhammad Ali discussing race to a forensic look at the infamous Nixon tapes, outtakes and all.”

The series will air in two parts of three 45-minute episodes each. The first episode will center around Frost’s 16 interviews with The Beatles and their rise to U.S. and global fame. His interviews with Muhammad Ali and Jane Fonda will be the focal points of episodes 2 and 3, respectively.

The series was commissioned by Zai Bennett, managing director of content for Sky U.K. and Ireland, and Poppy Dixon, director of documentaries and factual. Hayley Reynolds is the commissioning editor, and Ziyaad Desai the assistant commissioning editor. The series is directed by Matthew Hill, Liz Mermin and Francis Longhurst.  Executive producers are Danielle Peck for Sky Studios, Wilfred Frost for Paradine, and Nigel Sinclair and Cassidy Hartmann for White Horse.  

“It was always important to me to find a partner that wants and can do this big, immersive blockbuster six-parter, as opposed to just 60 or 90 minutes on Dad himself,” Wilfred Frost told THR. “We then have the issue of being stuck in only one minute here and two minutes there of each guest. But in this approach and format, we can be much more immersive.”

Wilfred Frost

Sky News

Asked about the challenges of going through many hours of tape, especially when they feature your father, Frost shared: “It’s been a lot of work and quite emotional for me clearly. It’s been a total privilege. As his dad’s son, I could not be prouder, but as a journalist as well. It’s an important job that we deliver this right because these are some seminal moments, important moments in history and seminal conversations that Dad had with the key players, and we’ve got to get it right. I’m confident that we have, and I can’t wait to share it with everyone.”

In the U.K., David Frost made a name for himself by hosting the pioneering political satire show That Was the Week That Was that aired on the BBC in 1962 and 1963. An American version with the same title aired on NBC in 1964 amd 1965, also featuring Frost.

Frost was also the first host of Inside Edition in the U.S. and hosted the BBC Sunday morning interview show Breakfast With Frost from 1993 to 2005

Frost became internationally known in 1977 with a series of TV interviews with disgraced ex-President Nixon which Frost produced and which ran in four 90-minute segments in May. Shown on 155 local TV stations instead of a network, ensuring a reach of 93 percent of the country, the first installment drew a record 45 million viewers. The dramatic face-to-face was make-or-break both for Frost and the ex-president, who was trying to salvage his reputation after resigning from the White House following the Watergate scandal in 1974.

The interviews formed the basis of Ron Howard’s 2008 Oscar-nominated drama Frost/Nixon, starring Michael Sheen as Frost and Frank Langella as Nixon. Among the many other big-name interviewees Frost sat across from over the years are the likes of Orson Welles, Muhammad Ali, and Clint Eastwood.

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In 2009, Barbara Walters presented the International Emmy Founders Award to Frost for his contributions to the TV industry. Frost died in 2013 at the age of 74.

Wilfred Frost hosts Sky News Today With Wilfred Frost on weekdays at 10 a.m. and also works as a contributor for CNBC, NBC News and MSNBC. Until 2022, he co-anchored CNBC’s flagship show Closing Bell. Before that, he co-anchored CNBC’s Worldwide Exchange, first from London and then from the U.S.

“For the last decade since Dad died, I have focused on accumulating more rights to his interviews and recovering and restoring lost footage, waiting for the right moment and partner to showcase it,” said Wilfred Frost. “That moment is now, and in Sky Studios and White Horse Pictures I feel blessed to have better partners than I could ever have dreamt of. While this series is based on Dad’s archive of over 10,000 interviews – many of which have not been seen for decades – it is not a typical archive show. Every conversation is carefully selected to be staggeringly relevant today and told by blockbuster names, from The Beatles to Jane Fonda to Muhammad Ali to Richard Nixon.”

Barnaby Shingleton, director of factual at Sky Studios, emphasized: “The Frost Tapes is a revelatory documentary series, that will unearth extraordinary conversations that have not been seen or heard for a generation, reframing them for today’s viewers with internationally renowned contributors.”

Added White Horse Pictures’ Cassidy Hartmann, an executive producer of the series: “When Wilfred brought this to us, we quickly realized there was something powerful and singular about the way David Frost approached his interviews. They were always penetrating, often groundbreaking, and revealing in a way that is timeless. With Wilfred, we teamed up with Sky Studios and developed the idea of building this series around six interviews that, through their subjects, spoke to issues that are still astoundingly relevant today.”

She concluded: “Our goal was to take this exceptional material — which features pivotal events of modern history and people of tremendous importance like Muhammad Ali and Jane Fonda, as well as the extraordinary life and process of David himself — and build something that is fully immersive and deeply resonant in 2024.”

Wilfred Frost said his father was front of mind throughout the work on the doc series, emphasizing: “I hope we’ve done Dad’s legacy justice.” 

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