Derry man’s David Frost biog hits the bookshelves

Derry author Neil Hegarty.
Derry author Neil Hegarty.

Derry author Neil Hegarty’s eagerly-awaited official biography of broadcaster Sir David Frost hit the bookshelves this week.

‘Frost: That Was The Life That Was’, which has had the full collaboration of the late TV icon’s widow and sons, is seen as one of the publishing highlights of the year.

Neil, originally from Culmore Road in the city, was commissioned to write the official Frost biog - a major coup in the literary world - at the end of 2014.

For the book, which includes unpublished writings, Neil - a past pupil of St Columb’s College - had access to the television presenter’s private archive as well as to people who knew him intimately.

Frost, who died suddenly in August 2013, was the only person to have met and interviewed every British Prime Minister since Harold Wilson as well as seven Presidents of the United States.

Other world leaders he interviewed included Nelson Mandela, Mikhail Gorbachev, Vladimir Putin, Henry Kissinger, Benazir Bhutto, Shimon Peres, Yasser Arafat and Benjamin Netanyahu.

Many of these encounters, Neil reveals, were set amid the turbulence of world events with the interviews becoming defining moments of history themselves.

The Derry man also uncovers that there was so much more than politics to Frost.

His interviews saw him lock horns with film stars, royalty, musicians, comedians, authors and sporting heroes.

His range, says the Derry man, was unique and extraordinary and is unlikely ever to be equalled.

From his humble background as the son of a Methodist minister, through his defining years at Cambridge and, then, quickly onwards through the 1960s to when Frost became the most successful TV host in the world, his work defined the mood of the moment.

Neil’s new book’ is described as “an epic story of personal achievement set amidst a rapidly changing world, encountering the great and the good that have dominated news and entertainment over the last fifty years.”

Earlier this year, Neil told the ‘Journal’ that working on the Frost biog had been a “very, very interesting and absorbing work’.

“His life is full of fascinating stuff,” he said. “Frost lived his entire adult life in the public eye and, so, one of my tasks was to uncover the private man behind the image.

“And he turned out to be much more private and enigmatic - and, hence, much more interesting to write about.”