Frank Joseph Bough (//; born 15 January 1933) is a retired English television presenter. He is best known as the former host of BBC sports and current affairs shows including Grandstand, Nationwide and Breakfast Time, which he launched alongside Selina Scott and Nick Ross.
|Occupation||Journalist, newsreader, television presenter, sports commentator|
|Known for||Grandstand, Nationwide, Breakfast Time|
Nesta Howells (m. 1959)
Over a long broadcasting career, Bough became renowned for his smooth, relaxed and professional approach to live broadcasts, once being described as "the most unassailable performer on British television". In 1987, Michael Parkinson said: "If my life depended on the smooth handling of a TV show, Bough would be my first choice to be in charge." In 1988, Bough was sacked by the BBC, following revelations that he had taken cocaine and visited brothels. He later presented programmes on LWT, ITV, Sky TV and on London's LBC radio before his retirement in 1998.
Bough was born in Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. He was educated at Oswestry Boys' High School (a Shropshire County Council secular grammar school after passing his eleven-plus exam), Oswestry, Shropshire, and at Merton College, Oxford. He played football for the university against Cambridge, and undertook his National service in the Royal Tank Regiment.
Bough joined the BBC as a presenter and reporter, presenting a new Newcastle upon Tyne-based show called Home at Six, soon renamed North at Six and then in 1963 becoming BBC Look North. Between 1964 and 1968, he was the presenter of Sportsview and in 1964 became the presenter of the BBC Sports Review of the Year, which he would host for 18 years. Between 1968 and 1983, he was a regular host for 15 years of the BBC's flagship Saturday afternoon sports programme Grandstand.
Bough was one of the BBC's football commentators for the 1966 World Cup in England and covered the match at Ayresome Park in Middlesbrough where North Korea defeated Italy 1-0, in a game regarded as one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history. Bough went on to present the early evening magazine programme Nationwide. This made him one of the most familiar faces on British television throughout the 1970s.
In 1977, Bough was memorably a guest on the Morecambe and Wise Christmas special, performing a song and dance routine in a sailor's outfit with film critic Barry Norman and rugby league commentator Eddie Waring. The programme's 21.3 million viewers remain a British record. Bough later said that he had to give Waring dancing lessons before the sketch, which was based on a comic version of the song There is Nothing Like a Dame from the musical South Pacific.
Bough was the main presenter of the BBC's coverage of the 1978 World Cup finals in Argentina.
His prominence increased in January 1983 when he became the first presenter of the BBC's inaugural breakfast television programme, Breakfast Time along with Selina Scott and Nick Ross. Bough was chosen by Ron Neil for his experience of presenting three hours of live television every week on Grandstand. As fellow presenter Nick Ross recounted:
None of us had remotely the experience of long, unscripted slabs of live TV that Frank had from his sports broadcasting. He brought a sense of serenity and reassurance. His unruffled composure made us feel this had all been done before, and on the first morning, as the last minutes ticked down to our opening transmission, when hearts were thumping and nerves were jangling, he clapped his hands and—addressing the producers and the technicians as much as Selina and me—gently and firmly said, "Calm down." We did.
Bough left breakfast television at the end of 1987 to concentrate on the Holiday programme where, having been a roving holidaymaker, he took over as the main presenter when Cliff Michelmore left the series in 1986.
Sex and drugs scandalEdit
In 1988, Bough was sacked by the BBC when he became mired in a sex and drugs scandal, which involved taking cocaine and wearing lingerie at sex parties. "Frank Bough: I Took Drugs with Vice Girls" said the News of the World's front-page headline in 1988. The newspaper's former deputy editor Paul Connew later said of the scandal: "It caused a sensation at the time, given Bough's public image as the squeaky clean front man of breakfast and sports television."
Roy Greenslade, professor of journalism at City University London, said that Bough made a "terrible mistake" by agreeing to speak to newspapers prior to publication of personal allegations, worsening the story.
Bough spoke of his regret for taking drugs and said: "It was a brief but appalling period in my life. Don't condemn my entire career for a brief episode I regret."
In 1989, Bough was hired by LWT where he fronted Six O'Clock Live until it was axed in 1992, and in 1991 he presented ITV's coverage of that year's Rugby World Cup tournament. He also presented the Frank Bough Interview for Sky TV for two series. However, he made front-page headlines again in 1992 when his visits to an S&M prostitute's Welbeck Street flat were made known to the tabloid press by one of the women employed there as a receptionist.
Late career and retirementEdit
In 1993, after his activities were regularly ridiculed in monologues on Have I Got News for You by Angus Deayton (who himself would be fired from the show following cocaine and prostitute use), Bough agreed to appear as a guest on the programme. In the early 1990s he was a presenter on London's LBC radio, staying on for the launch of London News Talk and moving to the News 97.3 service where he remained until 1996. He then presented Travel Live for the cable channel Travel.
From 1994, he was a regular member of a Windsor-based choir, the Royal Free Singers. Bough had a liver transplant in 2001 after cancer was found, and now lives in retirement in Holyport, Berkshire. In 2009, he contributed to a programme looking back on Nationwide, broadcast on BBC Four.
He married Nesta Howells after leaving the army in 1959. They have three sons: David, Stephen and Andrew.
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