Frank Bough, one of the most familiar faces on BBC television from the 1960s to 1980s, has died at the age of 87.
He joined the BBC as a reporter on what was to become Look North, and went on to present some of the corporation’s most popular shows, including Grandstand and Breakfast Time.
But his career was brought to an abrupt end after a scandal involving drugs and prostitutes.
Bough died last Wednesday in a care home, a family friend told the BBC.
A talented sportsman, Bough began presenting Sportsview in 1964, taking over from Peter Dimmock before moving onto Grandstand – the BBC’s leading sports show on a Saturday afternoon.
Over the next two decades, he would become one of TV’s best-known presenters, including with an 18-year stint as host of the BBC’s Sports Review of the Year, which later became Sports Personality of the Year.
His reputation for a calm and unflappable style once prompted Michael Parkinson’s remark that “if my life depended on the smooth handling of a TV show he’d be the one I’d want in charge”.
In 1983, Bough was involved in the launch of the BBC’s new breakfast service, Breakfast Time. He proved a natural on the show, with his laid-back and comfortable style becoming an immediate hit with the early morning audience.
Fed up with early morning starts, he quit Breakfast Time in 1987 to present the Holiday programme.
But he was sacked by the BBC in 1988 after tabloid revelations about sex and drugs. The story came as a particular shock, given Bough’s hitherto clean-cut family-man image.
He eventually returned to broadcasting, including fronting ITV’s Rugby World Cup coverage, but this came to an end after a further scandal. Bough later spoke of his regret over his actions, saying his behaviour had been “exceedingly stupid”.
In 2014, after years out of the spotlight, he contributed to a BBC documentary looking at 30 years of breakfast TV in the UK.
Presenter Piers Morgan paid tribute, tweeting: “RIP Frank Bough, 87. Star of Grandstand, Nationwide and Breakfast Time. His career was ruined by scandal, but he was one of the great live TV presenters. Sad news.”
Astrologer Russell Grant, a regular on Breakfast Time, said Bough was “a great man to work with” and was “always there for advice and support”.
Nick Owen, who went up against Bough in Britain’s breakfast TV battle on ITV’s TV-AM in the 1980s, remembered him as “the ultimate broadcaster who combined news and sport brilliantly”.
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.”
Sky Sports presenter Jeff Stelling remembered meeting Bough as a young reporter. “He was kind, helpful and generous with his time,” he wrote, adding that the presenter was “one of the very best in the business”.