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Television history in the making,
This review is from: The Frost Programme - Original Uncut Interviews [DVD] (DVD)
I enjoyed the archive interviews in this pack (uncut sections from larger shows, featuring three somewhat appalling historical figures), just as I enjoyed The Frost Programme and its various descendents on British commercial television in the 1960s and 1970s. However, I'd have preferred more interviews and a bit more thought to the DVD presentation - the BBC's recent box set of Face to Face interviews should be a model here. It's sad that the producers of this DVD didn't think it worthwhile to include a menu or chapter headings, so you have to fast forward to the interview you want, let alone subtitles. Also, there is no historical context apart from some skimpy lines on the box, and no introduction by Frost as there is in the Nixon Interviews for example, so that you need to do a bit of private research if you wish to know more about the three interviewees. This is particularly evident in the Ian Smith interview, largely centring on the Tiger negotiations which had just occurred but which apparently did not result a clear deal. Frost uses one of his studio guests, and what seems like the one black audience member, to provide the righteous indignation at what Smith said, on a crackly, sometimes inaudible phone link with Rhodesia. The other two interviews - with Oswald Mosley (pathetically, they spell his name wrong on both sides of the box) and "Dr" Emil Savundra - are riveting trial by television of a type that you don't see now on British TV, even with Jeremy Paxman on BBC's Newsnight. Frost, who's taken more than his fair share of flak from critics over the years, is at the height of his game at this time, and does an excellent job. As with the Ian Smith interview, he's the apogee of British politeness, human and humane, almost friendly, asking straightforward untricksy questions, and giving the subject adequate time to respond. However, in these last two interviews he makes his disapproval very clear, and is not afraid to argue out factual issues. Fascinating television.
Perhaps surprisingly, a number of people normally associated with comedy are listed on the credits as production staff - John Cleese, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Barry Cryer etc, in a nod to what was by this time the waning British satire boom. One wonders what their contribution could possibly have been in these three interviews.