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A Touch of Frost (TV series)

A Touch of Frost is a detective television series produced by Yorkshire Television for ITV in the United Kingdom.

It stars Sir David Jason as Detective Inspector William Edward Frost, G.C., known as Jack to everyone but his late wife (after the 1st episode). He is experienced and dedicated to his work, but he is always clashing with his superiors, mainly represented in the series by Superintendent Norman "Horn-rimmed Harry" Mullett, played by Bruce Alexander. The two have highly incompatible personalities. Mullett is an ambitious buttoned-down by-the-book administrator, and Frost is a down-to-earth "street copper". Nonetheless, they appreciate each other's professional abilities.

Characterisation

Frost has a tough approach to the rules. He has a tendency to become emotionally involved in his cases. He has a good reputation among his colleagues because, when he is not overwrought about a distressing case, he is approachable and sympathetic, and it is clear that many of the younger detectives seen in the series look up to him as a role model. Unlike the general CID reputation, Frost seems to geuinelly care about his cases and the victims involved.

Many also regard him as a hero because he was once shot while on duty, for which he was awarded the George Cross (G.C.), however Frost himself is modest about this, regarding himself as unworthy of the honour. The reality is that he was depressed (had planned to leave his wife but stayed because of her terminal illness) and drunk (6 beers) at the time and approached the armed man out of recklessness, not caring whether he lived or died. Nonetheless, the incident made him the Chief Constable's blue-eyed boy, and this protects him from being fired or retired by Superintendent Mullet. Frost's wife dies in the first episode, leaving him to cope with life on his own, which he finds difficult, throwing himself into his work instead, and living mainly on police canteen sandwiches and takeaways.

Setting

The series is set in the fictional town of Denton, which from geographical references in the series sometimes appears to be in or near Oxfordshire, more precisely in the upper Thames Valley, or (infrequently) at a non-descript northern location. There are at least ten places in the UK named Denton, including one in Oxfordshire, though the town in the series is not directly identified with any of them.

Early episodes include references to nearby places such as Oxford and Reading, briefing-room meetings held in front of maps showing the recognizable shape of Swindon displaying the M4 and A417 and (in one case) the actual name "Swindon" clearly visible. This, together with locations that are in the general area, collectively point to the original (unstated) location of "Denton" being Swindon in Wiltshire. However, in the Season 6 episode 'Keys to the Car', Crawley is mentioned as being 60 miles away. Swindon is 106 miles away from Crawley.

In later episodes the program makers may have changed tack or forgotten this; one recent episode clearly shows a map of Reading in the briefing room - another, Maidenhead. In the Season Two episode 'Widows and Orphans', a constable makes reference to the Plymouth (In Devon) force sending DOWN the criminal record of a suspect, suggesting Denton is in fact in Cornwall, although that seems unlikely and is unsupported elsewhere in the series. There is however supporting evidence of this in Frost creator RD Wingfield's radio writing. In his 1982 (non-Frost) radio serial Outbreak of Fear, set in the village of Polford somewhere on the Devon/Cornwall coast, one of the characters is on a temporary transfer from nearby Denton. However, the narrator does state that names have been changed and geography altered to conceal the reality of certain points in his account of 'real' events.

The general impression remains one of the Thames Valley force. In one episode, a postcode with a DN prefix (which in real life would apply to the area around Doncaster) was shown to exist within the Denton area, but this was subsequently acknowledged to be a production error. Various individual location scenes have been identified by sharp-eyed viewers as shot in North London, Oxford, Reading, Swindon, Devizes, Bracknell, Bristol and Birmingham.

Since the programme is produced by ITV in Leeds, most of the outdoor locations are shot in West Yorkshire. Several of the scenes are filmed in the small town of Castleford, West Yorkshire. They are currently filming there for the new series for 2008. All of the outdoor locations are in Yorkshire One episode filmed in and around Leeds

Supporting cast

Unlike most TV detectives, Frost does not have a single regular sidekick, and indeed some of his sidekicks are seen in only one or two episodes. There are, however, a number of regular supporting characters who are frequently seen and often promoted to a "sidekick" role:

  • DS George Toolan (John Lyons), Jack's long-time friend and colleague, with whom he shares an office. George is about the same age as Jack, but a rank lower. He is more cautious. He appears (in some capacity) in most episodes.
  • WPC Hazel Wallace (Caroline Harker) is a young, happy-go-lucky uniformed officer. At the end of the third series she moved to CID, and though she ceased to be a regular she continued to make guest appearances in later series, and was promoted to detective sergeant.
  • DC Clive Barnard (Matt Bardock), nephew of the Chief Constable. Most people believe he has only got into CID through his family connections, but Frost sees beyond that and takes Barnard under his wing. Later promoted to DS, but killed off in a 1997 episode.
  • DS Terry Reid (Robert Glenister). A tough London detective, he has often been in trouble in the past for his extreme methods, though he has mellowed by the time we see him.

Other regular characters include a newspaper journalist named Sandy Longford (Bill Stewart), who is always pestering Frost for information on his latest case, and sometimes has some useful information of his own, and police archivist Ernie Trigg (David Jason's real-life brother Arthur White). Frost's most frequent love interest is nurse Shirley Fisher, played by Lindy Whiteford, who appears in eight episodes.

Production

The saxophone solo heard during the show's theme music is performed by Barbara Thompson.

The series is based on the novels of R. D. Wingfield:

Three new episodes went into production late 2007, for broadcast in Autumn 2008.

On the 15th of september 2008, David Jason announced that he will quit the role of DI Jack Frost at a press conference in London. Jason's main reason for quitting the role was that he is now the oldest detective on television and he felt that it was 'natural' to retire as Frost. Sir David said: "You wouldn't want me to play Frost in a wheelchair, would you?"

"Frost is getting a little long in the tooth. I still enjoy doing it and it's a great part but I just think he's got to retire. It'll be a sad day."

Episodes

Episode Title First broadcast Main sidekick Notes
Series 1
1 Care and Protection 1992-12-06 DC Clive Barnard Frost's wife dies
2 Not with Kindness 1992-12-13 DS Gilmore (Tony Haygarth)
3 Conclusions 1992-12-20 DC Webster (George Anton)
Series 2
1 A Minority of One 1994-01-09 DC Carl Tanner (Lennie James)
2 Widows and Orphans 1994-01-16 DS Maureen Lawson (Sally Dexter) Start of Frost's relationship with Shirley Fisher
3 Nothing to Hide 1994-01-23 DC Costello (Neil Dudgeon)
4 Stranger in the House 1994-01-30 WPC Hazel Wallace
Series 3
1 Appropriate Adults 1995-01-08 DS George Toolan
2 Quarry 1995-01-15 DC Clive Barnard
3 Dead Male One 1995-01-22 DS George Toolan Frost moves in with Shirley.
4 No Refuge 1995-01-29 DS Maureen Lawson
Series 4
1 Paying the Price 1996-01-07 DS George Toolan Frost's house burns down
2 Unknown Soldiers 1996-01-14 DS George Toolan
3 The Things We Do For Love 1996-01-21 DS Frank Nash (Neil Stuke)
4 Fun Times for Swingers 1996-01-28 DS Rab Prentice (Russell Hunter)
5 Deep Waters 1996-02-04 DS Clive Barnard
Series 5
1 Penny for the Guy 1997-02-09 DS Liz Maud (Susannah Doyle) Bit-part guest appearance by a young Daniel Casey, later to take up major role as Detective Sergeant Gavin Troy in ITV's Midsomer Murders.
2 House Calls 1997-02-16 DS George Toolan & DS Liz Maud
3 True Confessions 1997-02-23 DS George Toolan
4 No Other Love 1997-03-02 DS Clive Barnard Barnard's last appearance.
Series 6
1 Appendix Man 1999-03-07 DS Hazel Wallace
2 One Man's Meat 1999-03-14 DS George Toolan & Kaiser
3 Private Lives 1999-03-21 DS Sharpe (Philip Jackson) Few of the regulars appear in this episode.
4 Keys To The Car 1999-03-28 DS Bill Dorridge (Paul Jesson)
Series 7 / 1999 Christmas Special
Part 1 Line of Fire (1) 1999-12-25 DS Bill Dorridge & PC Susan Kavanagh (Georgia MacKenzie) The first two-part story.A detective is killed in strange circumstances and a mysterious death takes place at a power station when a worker falls to his death.Plus Frost is taken hostage during an armed robbery at a bank.
Part 2 Line of Fire (2) 2000-01-01 DS Bill Dorridge & PC Susan Kavanagh
Series 8 / 2001 New Year Special
Part 1 Benefit of the Doubt (1) 2001-01-14 DS Terry Reid (Robert Glenister)
Part 2 Benefit of the Doubt (2) 2001-01-15 DS Terry Reid
Series 9 / 2002 New Year Special
Part 1 Mistaken Identity (1) 2002-01-27 DC Ronnie Lonnegan (Michelle Joseph) First appearance of Pam Hartley (Susan Penhaligon)
Part 2 Mistaken Identity (2) 2002-01-28 DC Ronnie Lonnegan Guest starring Kate Maberly
Series 10
1 Hidden Truth 2003-01-19 DS Terry Reid Frost loses his winning lottery ticket
2 Close Encounters 2003-03-03 DS Toolan and DS Wallace Wallace has had a baby since her last appearance.
Guest starring Jim Sturgess
3 Held In Trust 2003-09-14 DS Terry Reid Frost gets promoted, then suspended at the conclusion of the episode.
Series 11
1 Another Life 2003-10-26 DS Maureen Lawson Guest starring Amanda Root. Frost is allowed to return to duty as a DI.
2 Dancing in the Dark 2004-02-22 DC Jasper Tranter
Series 12 / 2005 special
1 Near Death Experience 2005-09-25 DS Sharpe
Series 13 / 2006
1 Endangered Species 2006-11-05 DC Robert Presley (Blake Ritson) Episode aired on ITV1, Sunday 5 November 2006 at 9pm UTC
Series 14 / 2008
1 In The Public Interest 12 October 2008 Guest starring Mel Martin, Tam Williams, Julia St. John, Paul Shane and Adrian Lukis. Has already been broadcast in Holland in May 2008.
2 Dead End 19th October 2008 Guest starring Cherie Lunghi.
3 Mind Games 2008 Guest Starring Keith Barron

To air on ITV1 autumn 2008.

DVD Releases

MPI Home Video has released Series 1-13 on DVD in Region 1.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
Season 1 3 30 March 2004
Season 2 4 25 May 2004
Season 3 4 28 July 2004
Season 4 5 23 November 2004
Season 5 4 29 March 2005
Season 6 4 28 June 2005
Seasons 7 & 8 4 27 September 2005
Seasons 9 & 10 5 25 April 2006
Seasons 11 & 12 3 31 October 2006
Seasons 13 1 29 April 2008

International broadcasters

Country / Region Alternate title/Translation TV Network(s) Series Premiere Weekly Schedule
Australia Seven Network and UK.TV Wednesday, 8:30pm
Belgium VRT Saturday, 11 pm
Canada Knowledge, SCN, TVOntario
Croatia Frostov pristup ("Frost's approach") HRT
Denmark En sag for Frost ("A Case for Frost") DR1 Wednesday, 10 pm
Finland Komisario Frost ("Inspector Frost") YLE
France Inspecteur Frost ("Inspector Frost") France 3 TMC
Italy Jack Frost La7 march 2006
Japan フロスト警部 ("Detective Inspector Frost") Mystery Channel
Netherlands KRO Wednesday 21:20-23:05
New Zealand UK.TV
Norway Detektiv Jack Frost ("Detective Jack Frost") NRK1
Poland Sprawa dla Frosta ("A Case for Frost") Universal Channel 6 December 2007 Thursday, 9 pm
Sweden Ett fall för Frost ("A Case for Frost") SVT1, Kanal 9 Varying nights, 9pm
United States A&E Network

References

External links

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