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Frank Bough

Frank Bough
Born (1933-01-15) 15 January 1933
Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England
Nationality British
Occupation Journalist, newsreader, television presenter, sports commentator
Known for Grandstand, Nationwide, Breakfast Time
Spouse(s) Nesta Howells (m. 1959)
Children 3

Frank 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.

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".[1] 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."[1] In 1988, Bough was sacked by the BBC,[2] following revelations that he had taken cocaine and visited brothels.[3] He later presented programmes on LWT, ITV, Sky TV and on London's LBC radio before his retirement.


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
    • BBC 2.1
    • Sex and drugs scandal 2.2
    • Late career and retirement 2.3
  • Personal life 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Early life

Bough was born in Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. He was educated at Oswestry Boys' High School (a Shropshire County Council secular grammar school), Oswestry, Shropshire, and at Merton College, Oxford. He played football for the university against Cambridge, and performed his national service in the Royal Tank Regiment.



Bough joined the BBC as an anchorman 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 to 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 eighteen years. Between 1968 and 1983, he was a regular host for fifteen years on 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,[4] in a game regarded as one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history.[5] 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.[6] 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.[7]

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 scandal

In 1988, Bough was sacked by the BBC when he became mired in a sex and drugs scandal,[8] which involved taking cocaine and wearing lingerie at sex parties.[9] "Frank Bough: I Took Drugs with Vice Girls"[10] 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 frontman of breakfast and sports television."[11]

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.[12]

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."[13]

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 the Rugby World Cup. 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.[14]

A photograph emerged in a newspaper of Bough leaving the S&M prostitute's flat. During a visit he was reported to have spent 50 minutes in a 'torture chamber' featuring a slave cage and school canes. The following day he appeared on television with his wife and said: "I am feeling exceedingly stupid. I bitterly regret many of the things in my life, and if only I could undo them I would."[13]

Late career and retirement

In 1993, after his activities were regularly ridiculed in monologues by Angus Deayton on Have I Got News for You, Bough agreed to appear as a guest on the programme. In the early 1990s he was a presenter on London's LBC radio,[15] 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.

In her autobiography, Fern Britton criticised Bough, with whom she had worked on BBC's Breakfast Time in the 1980s. Britton said that during her first meeting with Bough, he whispered in her ear: "How long will it be before I'm having an affair with you?"[16]

Personal life

He married Nesta Howells after leaving the army in 1959. They have three sons: David, Stephen and Andrew.[13]

Bough met his wife Nesta while he was doing his national service. She stood by him during the scandals that marred his career.[13]


  1. ^ a b "Desert Island Discs - Frank Bough". BBC. 1 May 1987. Retrieved 24 August 2015. 
  2. ^ Cozens, Claire (24 July 2003). "C4 film puts spotlight on BBC drugs scandals". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 9 February 2013. 
  3. ^ "As the Breakfast Time presenters are reunited, the sad life of missing star Frank Bough". Daily Mail (London). 19 January 2008. Retrieved 9 February 2013. 
  4. ^ Taylor, Louise (8 June 2010). "How little stars from North Korea were taken to Middlesbrough's heart". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 9 February 2013. 
  5. ^ Collett, Mike. "World Cup's 10 biggest upsets". Times Live. 
  6. ^ "Frank Bough is back for TV chat". Daily Star. 23 November 2012. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  7. ^ Jones, Ian (2003). Morning Glory: A History of British Breakfast Television. Kelly Publications.
  8. ^ Holiday' programme axed after 37 years"'". Daily Mail (London). 25 November 2006. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  9. ^ Platell, Amanda "Watching brief - Amanda Platell won't have Angus Deayton home", New Statesman, 28 October 2002, accessed 12 June 2008
  10. ^ "Colin Myler: Sex, drugs and responsibilities". The Independent (London). 21 January 2008. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  11. ^ "Gerry Brown: News of the World investigative reporter". PressGazette. 26 January 2004. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  12. ^ "UK law prevents truth-telling in journalism, Nick Davies tells parliamentary committee". 21 April 2009. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  13. ^ a b c d Boshoff, Alison. "Bough on road to recovery after transplant". Daily Mail (London). Retrieved 9 February 2013. 
  14. ^ "Stars of BBC Breakfast Time reunite to celebrate 25th anniversary - but where's Frank Bough?". Daily Mail (London). 17 January 2008. Retrieved 12 June 2008. 
  15. ^ "LBC - from 1973 to today". The Guardian (London). 4 December 2002. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  16. ^ "Falling standards of behaviour at the BBC? What about Frank Bough?". Daily Mirror. 30 October 2008. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 

External links

  • Frank Bough's career on the BBC website
  • Frank Bough at IMDb
Preceded by
Peter Dimmock
Regular Host of Sportsview
Succeeded by
David Coleman (renamed Sportsnight)
Preceded by
David Coleman
Regular Host of Grandstand
Succeeded by
Des Lynam
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