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Vital Signs

Frost/Nixon

David Frost is a schizophrenic.  His creative personality bestrides the Atlantic ocean.  When he’s at home in England, Sir David, as he’s known, fronts daytime-television panels and gives splendid summer parties at the country home he shares with his wife, Lady Carina Fitzalan-Howard.  For many years, he also hosted a Sunday-morning interview hour in which, fortified by a champagne breakfast, he and his guests would regularly slip into not so much a verbal exchange as a warm Jacuzzi of mutual appreciation.  Before that, he was both a shareholder and presenter of an early morning television show whose most conspicuous icon was a sock-puppet named Roland Rat.  He has been described as one of those “engagingly performing fleas” who add to the jollity of national life.  Fifty years ago, of course, Frost began his domestic career as the host of a cutting-edge satirical program and won a deserved reputation for his dressing-down of various members of Britain’s ruling elite, among others.  His public demolition of the insurance fraudster Emile Savundra is still regarded as an early benchmark of trial by television.  It was therefore not without amusement that the press discovered, as his tastes matured, that, when Frost began to find pleasure in aristocratic society, those who were once the target of his scorn became numbered among his closest friends. ...

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