United Kingdom

Gary Lineker leads tributes to former Grandstand host Frank Bough after he dies aged 87 

Tributes have been paid to former BBC broadcaster Frank Bough, the Grandstand host who became the first voice heard on British Breakfast TV, with Gary Linkeker declaring he 'made it all look so easy'.

 Bough, who for much of his career was one of the most famous and highly paid personalities on UK television screens, died in a care home last Wednesday, a family friend revealed.

Fellow broadcaster Michael Parkinson once said of Bough: 'If my life depended on the smooth handling of a TV show, Bough would be my first choice to be in charge.'

Match of the Day presenter Lineker tweeted: 'Sorry to hear that Frank Bough has passed away. Grew up watching him present Grandstand on Saturdays. He was a brilliant presenter who made it all look so easy. RIP Frank.'  

The TV personality died on Wednesday in a care home, a family friend told the BBC. Pictured in 2001

Gary Lineker and Piers Morgan led tributes to the broadcaster after his death aged 87

Bough fronted the team who launched the BBC's Breakfast Time, revolutionising the UK television landscape in January 1983.

After the news of his death last night, current breakfast presenter Piers Morgan called him 'one of the great live TV presenters', but added that his career had been 'ruined by scandal'.

That was a reference to a 1988 News Of The World expose in which Bough confessed to taking cocaine with prostitutes.

 He was sacked from his £200,000-a-year contract by the BBC but would later return to presenting on outlets including Sky and London's LBC.

Before the revelations about his private life, he had been known for his squeaky-clean image and passion for sport.

His wife Nesta - who survives him - stuck with him and stayed with him up until his death.  

Frank is credited with pioneering breakfast television, launching BBC's Breakfast Time in 1983, alongside Selina Scott (pictured together) and Nick Ross

After the sting he said: 'I have been exceedingly stupid and I accept that 

'I caused a lot of pain to my wife and my family and I bitterly regret all these things - but I have to say that I believe that everybody, when they have difficulties with their marriage or sexuality, surely has the right to sort these things out in the privacy of their own home.'

Nesta had admitted she was furious at her husband and also the press over the sting and had considered leaving him.

She said in a Sky News programme: 'Obviously I have thought, 'Do I stay or do I go?'. 

'We have been together a long time. We have brought up a family.

'We have still got a lot going for us. I do feel betrayed by it, but I do not feel that it is anything personal to do with me.'

The scandal turned the couple into recluses after previously being well-known in their old Thames-side mansion, where they held glamorous parties at the height of his fame.

But in 2014 it was reported he was planning a comeback to try and finally banish the ghosts of his past and reclaim his broadcasting legacy.

It never happened and he continued to turn down offers to return to any anniversary celebrations of his former shows. 

The presenter, adored by viewers, became known for his smooth, unflappable and in control broadcast style. In one of the last photographs of him, Bough his seen here in Maidenhead, Berks, in 2018

Born into a family in a two-up, two-down terraced house in Stoke-on-Trent in 1933, Bough would later tell Desert Island Discs that he enjoyed 'very happy days' growing up with his sister.

At 18 he became the first member of his family to attend university when he won an all-rounder scholarship to Merton College, Oxford.

He won a football Blue and grew to be a talented sportsman, but opted for broadcasting for a career working at first in BBC regional news then national sports programmes Sportsview and Grandstand.

He anchored six football World Cups, six Olympics and at least 12 of rugby's Five Nations Championships for the corporation.

But it was in Breakfast TV that his fame was its greatest. As he welcomed viewers to Breakfast Time, he and fellow presenters Selina Scott and Nick Ross spoke of how they hoped the informal format would be as popular in the UK as it was abroad.

It was – and made stars of many of the people who appeared on it. 

Frank married Nesta Howells (pictured together) in 1959 after he left the army, the couple had three sons together - David, Stephen and Andrew. Pictured: Nesta and Frank in 1993

Frank Bough and Chris Bonnington in a group picture from the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment

Frank Bough and his wife Nesta at a dinner in London


For the best part of 20 years, Frank chose to live in reclusive obscurity with his wife at home in Berkshire after the shame of two very public sex and drug scandals that brought his career to a premature end.

In 1988 he was sacked by the Corporation after the News of the World revealed he had taken cocaine with prostitutes at a Mayfair brothel.

Amid a torrent of more damaging revelations, he attempted to stem the tide by giving an ill-advised interview to the now defunct paper in a bid to protect his marriage and spare his three sons humiliation.

It ran the story with the front page headline: 'Frank Bough: I Took Drugs with Vice Girls'.

In a grovelling mea culpa, he confessed to snorting cocaine with escort girls and drug-pushers and to watching couples have sex at wild parties, though he insisted the drug made him unable to have sex himself.

He said he'd been lured into the world of high-class prostitutes after being introduced to a French-born vice queen.

In 1992 he was seen leaving another prostitute's flat which reportedly contained a cage and school canes. 

Last night the show's astrologer, Russell Grant, was among those paying tribute.

'I am deeply saddened at the loss of an old television friend,' he Tweeted. 'Frank Bough was a great man to work with. We launched #BBCBreakfastTime in January 1983. 

'Always there for advice and support. 'They' said we wouldn't get on but we absolutely did - chalk n cheese! See you, Frank.'

Soccer Saturday host Jeff Stelling said Bough was 'one of the very best in the business' and had always been 'helpful and generous with his time'.

Andrea Jenkyns MP, said her father Clifford 'spoke highly' of him when reminiscing about time served together in the Tank Regiment during conscription.

Former F1 world champion Damon Hill said simply 'RIP Frank indeed.'

Former Labour MP George Galloway called Bough 'peerless' as a presenter, adding: 'The BBC have no one like him now.'

A BBC spokesperson said: 'Frank excelled as a live presenter with the BBC for many years and we are very sorry to hear of his passing.

'We send our condolences to his family and friends.'

Bough retired from broadcasting in 1998, a decade after the News of the World scandal that tarnished his reputation.

Speaking about it years later, Bough said: 'I'm not a wicked man, nor do I mean any harm or evil to people. I've made mistakes, but everyone's entitled to do that. No one suffered but my wife, my family and myself.

'It was a brief but appalling period in my life. Don't condemn my entire career for a brief episode I regret.'

He claimed a therapist had cured him of his cocaine habit and his 'other life' - 'for good'.

Early start: The first episode of Breakfast Time, pictured in 1983, included a champagne celebration. Bough is pictured centre, surrounded by his team

Co-hosts: Bough pictured with co-hosts Debbie Rix, left, and Selina Scott, right, in 1983

Frank Bough and Selina Scott, the hosts of Breakfast Time

After retirement, Bough lived in relative obscurity with wife Nesta Howells. The couple married in 1959 after he left the army - where he did his national service in the Royal Tank Regiment – and they had three sons together; David, Stephen and Andrew.

In 2001, he had to undergo a liver transplant after doctors found a cancer – though he has been involved in no other public health battles since. 

Television Presenter and former Beauty Queen Debbie Greenwood with Frank Bough at BBC TV Breakfast Xmas Party

Frank fronting a special exhibition stand at Waterloo Station in London where commuters were given a glimpse of programmes on offer from Sky Television, the satellite broadcasting station

In 2006, he turned down a chance to appear on a special BBC show celebrating Breakfast's 25th anniversary, the BBC said. 

But viewers long remembered Bough's unflappable style and the calm, friendly manner that won him legions of fans in his career's 1970s and 80s heyday. 


For all his decades as the face of the BBC's news and sports output, it was a dance routine in a sailor suit that won Frank Bough more viewers than any other show he appeared on.

He was one of the stars in Morecambe and Wise's 1977 Christmas special, performing a routine from South Pacific to the delight of a then-record 21 million people tuning in. 

That he was asked shows how high Bough's star had risen at the corporation by the end of the 1970s.

Bough (back row, centre) with Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise (front from left) in the dance routine during the comic duo's record-breaking 1977 Christmas Special on the BBC

Born to an upholsterer father in 1933, Bough joined the BBC after picking up a love for performing in productions at school and Oxford University.

He started out on the regional magazine show Home At Six, now known as Look North, which was broadcast from Newcastle.

It cemented his love for live television, and in 1964 he combined this with his love of live sport when he took over from pioneering host Peter Dimmock to present midweek programme Sportsview. 

Two years later he was part of the BBC team who covered England's glorious World Cup campaign, commentating on one of the greatest upsets in the sport to date when North Korea defeated Italy 1-0 in Middlesbrough.

Sportsview became Sportsnight in 1968, and Bough moved on to Grandstand, the BBC's long-running flagship Saturday afternoon sports programme.

It began a 15-year stint as the face of BBC sport, with the show covering sports from the Olympic Games to rugby league. 

He also fronted Sports Review Of The Year, the forerunner to the current Sports Personality Of The Year event, for 18 years.

In the 1970s, Bough took his experience of live TV and moved to news magazine programmes. Nationwide, one of the most-watched shows of the time, attracted Bough in 1972 - although some BBC managers objected to a sports broadcaster muscling in on news's territory.

It didn't matter to viewers though, and he was an instant success with his easy-going style.

It meant that by 1983, when the BBC won the race with ITV to bring breakfast television to UK screens by just two weeks, Bough was a shoo-in as one of the launch hosts.

BBC Breakfast Time would cement his reputation as one of the most reliable hosts on TV, moving from interviewing Prime Ministers to handling lighter segments with ease.

Grandstand presenters (left to right) Steve Ryder, David Coleman, Peter Dimmock, Des Lynam and Frank Bough during a celebration transmission to mark the 40th anniversary of the sports programme

However he lasted just four years, growing tired of the early mornings, and moved on to the Holiday programme. 

It was that job he was sacked from after the News of the World expose.

His career never really recovered.  He presented ITV's Rugby World Cup coverage in 2003 but it was to be his last major gig.

When he died he Bough had not been seen since a 2014 documentary on 30 years of breakfast TV. 

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