A Touch of Frost
A Touch of Frost is a television detective series produced by Yorkshire Television (later ITV Studios) for ITV from 6 December 1992 until 5 April 2010, initially based on the Frost novels by R. D. Wingfield. Writing credit for the three episodes in the first 1992 series went to Richard Harris.
|A Touch of Frost|
|Created by||R. D. Wingfield|
|Theme music composer||Barbara Thompson|
Jon Hiseman (1992–97)
Ray Russell (1999–2010)
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||15|
|No. of episodes||42 (List of episodes)|
|Running time||75–100 minutes|
|Production company(s)||ITV Studios|
|Original network||ITV, STV, UTV|
|Picture format||4:3 (1992–2000)|
|Original release||6 December 1992 –|
5 April 2010
The series stars David Jason as Detective Inspector William Edward "Jack" Frost, an experienced and dedicated detective who frequently clashes with his superiors. In his cases, Frost is usually assisted by a variety of different detective sergeants or constables, with each bringing a different slant to the particular case. Comic relief is provided by Frost's interactions with the bureaucratically-minded Superintendent Norman "Horn-rimmed Harry" Mullett, played by Bruce Alexander.
A number of young actors had their major debut as supporting cast in the show, including: Matt Bardock, Ben Daniels, Neil Stuke, Mark Letheren, Colin Buchanan, Jason Maza, Damian Lewis and Marc Warren.
The series is set in the fictional South Midlands town of Denton, and is marked by a gritty tone. It is believed that Denton is in either Berkshire or Oxfordshire, though there are many references to Reading, Oxford, and in particular, Swindon. In the earlier episodes, the M4 and A417 were often seen, and the map of Swindon was seen in the control room, although a map of Reading was used occasionally. Paperwork given to Frost and other characters refers to Denton station as being part of the Thames Valley Police. The programme was produced by ITV in Leeds, and most of the outdoor locations were shot in West Yorkshire. Several scenes were filmed in and around the city and district of Wakefield and neighbouring small towns of Pontefract and Castleford, West Yorkshire. The role of Frost was notable in changing the public perception of David Jason from a predominantly comic actor to a dramatic actor.
At a press conference in London on 15 September 2008, David Jason announced that he would be quitting the role of DI Jack Frost. Jason's main reason for quitting the role was that Frost was by now the oldest detective on television and he felt that it was 'natural' to retire as Frost. At 68, a police detective would already have been retired for eight years. 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."
- DI William Edward "Jack" Frost (David Jason, 1992–2010), is a very empathic and sensitive detective, whose talents are offset by human failings, which include drinking other people's tea and coffee, dressing sloppily, and leaving his home, office and car in states of extreme untidiness. This is marginally different from how he is portrayed in the novels, where he often lacks empathy and has a gruff, coarse, almost offensive tone. He is frequently shown to shirk paperwork, leaving his subordinates to take up the slack. He never uses a police notebook to record evidence and other information, instead scribbling notes on various bits of paper. Frost is widowed in the first episode. He had planned to leave his wife but just as he was going to tell her he was advised that she had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. After hearing this news he went on a drinking binge and recklessly approached an armed man, who shot him. As a result of subduing the man in what was ostensibly a selfless, heroic act, Frost was awarded the highest British civilian award for gallantry, the George Cross. Whenever he is reminded of his award he tends to suffer survivor guilt. He is respected and admired by his colleagues and is shown to be a good-hearted, if flawed, character, as acknowledged by troubled youth, the elderly, and even by some criminals he has previously arrested. On several occasions, as in the novels, Frost breaks the law and plants evidence to get an arrest or conducts searches without permission, although always has the correct suspect, as well as turning a blind eye to sympathetic villains or misdemeanours, often to get out of the paperwork. This type of behaviour regularly saw Frost suspended, disciplined or threatened with the same throughout the series. In the first novel, his name is shown to actually be Jack Frost, when DC Barnard finds his GC in a drawer and the inscription reads, "To Jack Edward Frost". It was felt by the producers that the name Jack Frost was implausible for the TV series, so Frost was given William as his real first name, with Jack becoming a nickname. Also in the novels, he was a heavy chain-smoker; this again was altered in the series to have Frost quit smoking in the first episode and occasionally struggle with kicking the habit over the subsequent two seasons, with a penchant for unhealthy foods taking its place.
- Superintendent Norman Mullett (Bruce Alexander, 1992–2010), a social climber concerned with appearances and ambitious for promotion, is Frost's boss and his constant foil on the job. Mullett has a love-hate relationship with Frost whose detective skills he admires but whose people and political skills he abhors. The long-suffering Mullett frequently threatens to sack Frost, but Frost's ability to close cases usually saves him. In addition, receiving the George Cross made Frost "the Chief Constable's blue-eyed boy", thus protecting Frost from being sacked or retired by Mullett. His background in the novels was extensive; highly educated and a qualified solicitor, Mullett always drove a prestige car and was married in the series to Elspeth, who was occasionally seen, and was assured promotion to Chief Superintendent once the new police station was completed. Eventually, this promotion is turned-down in a later episode thanks to yet another crisis caused by Frost, who, surprisingly, gets off lightly. Frost's nickname for Mullett is "Horn-rimmed Harry" due to the traditional design of his spectacles. Frost also has a plastic, mounted grey mullet hanging on his office wall; a grey mullet is a species of fish commonly found in British coastal waters but not usually eaten as it is regarded as being bland. Frost constantly tries to avoid Mullett but just as he thinks he has managed to avoid him Mullett spots him and generally calls out, "Ah, Jack" to which Frost replies, "Ah, there you are sir". His Christian name was given in the novel "Hard Frost" as Stanley – however this novel was not written until a couple of years after the name Norman was given to the character by the writers of the TV series. In the final episode, Mr Mullett appears to be wearing a blazer with the badge of the Army Intelligence Corps.
- DS George Toolan (John Lyons, 1992–2010), 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. Though he is more cautious, George is steadfastly loyal to Frost. Originally DCI Allen's assistant, he is later partnered with Frost on many occasions. In the first novel his name was George Martin, but as 'Toolan' he was retained for the series. He is known to have a wife, Mary, who confronts Frost after George is injured by falling from a flight of stairs. He was one of only three characters who stayed with the show until its demise, and was the only permanent cast member to be killed off in the history of the show. His death plays a role in Frost's decision to retire, as he no longer sees the office as a safe haven to escape his outside troubles without George there.
- Annie Marsh (Cherie Lunghi, 2008) is a hardworking detective from Manchester who is not keen on Frost's methods of cutting corners and bending the rules to get a result. Once, before she and Frost were posted at Denton, she reported him for endangering the life of a young PC and being unprofessional – something which he took to heart and still remembers to this day.
- Bill Dorridge (Paul Jesson, 1999–2000) was assigned by newly promoted Assistant Commissioner Cremond to temporarily replace DS George Toolan, who was temporarily reassigned to "community duties" due to disciplinary action. Dorridge is an amiable by-the-book detective with experience in most investigative sections, especially liking commercial fraud.
- Billy "Razor" Sharpe (Philip Jackson, 1999–2005) is nicknamed "Razor" as a pun because he appears not to be very sharp. Frost describes him as a "plodder" who "double checks everything", adding, "that's just the sort of person I need." Although he retired from divisional CID, he returned to help Frost investigate a case of an old friend in the episode "Near Death Experience".
- Clive Barnard (Matt Bardock, 1992–1997) was the nephew of the Chief Constable. Most people believe he has only got into CID through his family connections, but Frost sees beyond that after the first episode and takes Barnard under his wing. Later promoted to DS, he dies in the line of duty and Frost, saying Clive is the real hero, places his George Cross on Clive's body apparently to be buried with him. He appeared in the first novel and was carried across onto the series for continuity.
- Frank Nash (Neil Stuke, 1996) is a young, hardworking officer, who after a move up to Denton from London, is trying to settle down with his wife and start a family. However, the long hours that Frost makes him work begins to put a strain on his marriage, he and his wife decide to up sticks and move back to London. Frost tipped Frank for good success and wished him all the best.
- Hazel Wallace (Caroline Harker, 1992–2003) is a young, happy-go-lucky uniformed officer. In the first novel, she was originally named Hazel Page and did not appear in any subsequent books, replaced in succession by other female officers, but was retained in the series for continuity. In the first episode she starts a relationship with DC Clive Barnard, but this quickly fizzles out when he is transferred away from Denton. Upon his temporary return, Barnard attempts to rekindle their romance, but she is in another relationship. At the end of the same series she moves 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, also giving birth to a daughter who she brought into the station on one occasion. In the second series she almost fell victim to a serial rapist, but managed to fight him off in her apartment.
- Liz Maud (Susannah Doyle, 1997) is a high-flying west end detective, looking to use her skills and tactics to work her way up the ranks and become detective inspector – even attempting to get Frost suspended by ratting him out to Mullett to do so. Although she and Frost developed a working relationship, she decided to return to the west end after Mullett refused her promotion.
- Maureen Lawson (Sally Dexter, 1994–2003) is a strong willed, hardworking lesbian detective, who sometimes lets her personal judgement get in the way of a decent result. She left divisional CID in 1994 after becoming too involved with one of the cases she was working on, which resulted in a burglary victim being stabbed by her jealous lover; Mullett went on the warpath but Frost, who initially had difficulty coming to terms with her sexuality, swiftly came to her rescue. She later returned to help Frost investigate the murder of a local businessman in the episode "Another Life".
- Rab Prentice (Russell Hunter, 1996) is an old-fashioned laidback Scottish detective, whose stint in Denton CID will mark his last service before retirement. Although capable of obtaining his own information and getting a result, sometimes he needs a push in the right direction from Frost. His constant bemoaning of sex and relationships, and repeated remarks to Frost about old age easily rile the inspector. To Frost's shock, Prentice applies for the "ill health pension" at the end of the episode (citing "stress") in order to retire early and embark on a relaxed lifestyle.
- Sandy Gilmore (Tony Haygarth, 1992) is a chain-smoking copper of the 80s, who is seconded to Denton CID to cover the number of officers on sick leave. Although he inappropriately tries to smoke in the houses of people he is interviewing, and gets a reprimand, Frost begins to like his sense of policing.
- Terry Reid (Robert Glenister, 2001–2003) is a tough London detective who has suffered from alcohol and drug addictions in the past. He has often been in trouble in the past for his extreme methods, though he has mellowed by the time we meet him. Frost takes a liking to him after he gets to know him. Frost's curiosity leads him to ask Trigg to find out about Reid's military background in the Parachute Regiment. Upon reading Reid's military file, he finds about an act of bravery for which he was awarded the Military Medal.
- PC Ernie Trigg (Arthur White, 1994–2010) (David Jason's real-life brother), the police archivist of paper files and the pre-computer information. He helps Frost with knowledge of known associates and crime methods he has collected over the years that are not available in the police computer system. He and Frost knew each other long before they were both stationed at Denton.
- DCI Jim Allen (Neil Phillips, 1992–1994), the first DCI to feature in the series. In the novels, he and Frost are twin DIs, although his upcoming promotion to Chief Inspector is mentioned in the first book, but never seems to eventuate. Frost and Allen hate each other due to their vastly different work ethic and attitudes, although begrudgingly co-operate on several cases. A recurring theme in the novels is Allen's absence from Denton Station (either sick or temporarily acting as DCI at another station), which leaves Frost under enormous pressure to manage the incoming caseload. In the series however, he and Frost get on quite well, often working together, sharing jokes about Mullett and concern for each other's emotions on particularly harrowing cases. There is only one significant argument between them, when Frost is taken off a serial-rape case. Allen was also retained and written-in to several of the storylines from which he was absent in the novels. He is mentioned in the second episode of the third series as "being away", but is never seen again.
- DCI Jim Peters (Nigel Harrison, 1996–1997), seemingly replaces temporary DCI Charlie Hawkes. He does not feature in any of the original novels. He is more laid-back and humorous than Allen and appears to have a good relationship with Frost. He is the last DCI featured in the series, with Frost himself taking over the position in all but name for the rest of the show.
- Shirley Fisher (Lindy Whiteford, 1992–2000), the nurse who cared for Jack's terminally ill wife. She later develops a relationship with Jack after a chance encounter at Denton General Hospital, which continues on for some time, but the relationship is strained when Shirley begins to realise she can't cope with the demands of Jack's job, and feels that he has his priorities the wrong way round, with him frequently standing her up on important occasions, including his George Cross recipient reunion (where she was left waiting at the train station) and her mother's funeral. The pair decide to separate, and although Jack, on several occasions, seems to regret their parting, especially in "Line of Fire", the two remain separated.
- Kitty Rayford (Gwyneth Powell, 1997), an ex-prostitute who Jack knew in her youth, when she often passed through the station and spent a night or two in the cells. She and Jack meet again in "Penny for the Guy", when he crashes into her car after skipping a temporary red light. The pair maintain a very physical relationship, until they go their separate ways in "True Confessions", when Frost realizes he cannot give Kitty the ongoing companionship she so desperately desires.
- Christine Moorhead (Phyllis Logan, 2010), an RSPCA officer who works with Jack to help crack his final case, involving dog fighting. She later becomes a key witness in a murder, and the couple become closer. Jack finds himself bonding with her teenage children, and as such, the pair decide to marry. However, on their wedding day, her ex-husband, in a drunken fit of jealousy, tries to kill Jack by ploughing into the side of his car in his 4x4. However he misses, instead killing DS George Toolan. It is on the strength of his relationship with Christine that Jack decides to retire, now that he has something outside the station to live for.
The series is based on the novels of R. D. Wingfield:
- Frost at Christmas (1984)
- A Touch of Frost (1987)
- Night Frost (1992)
- Hard Frost (1995)
- Winter Frost (1999)
- A Killing Frost (2008)
Despite the show still being produced when the last two novels were written, they were never used as source material for episodes, possibly due to their more graphic subject matter. "Hard Frost" was the last and perhaps most closely referenced novel filmed, and was split across two almost-unrelated episodes due to its length. This also occurred with "A Touch of Frost" (split across three episodes) and "Night Frost" (two episodes, although the element of DS Gilmore's marriage break-up was used in season 4 episode "The Things We Do for Love", which has no other reference to "Night Frost", for the series-only character of DS Nash). By discarding several minor sub-plots in "Frost at Christmas", the two major cases were able to be investigated in the one episode, being the pilot "Care and Protection". This novel, and the pilot, introduced the characters of Frost, Mullet, DI Allen (DCI in the series), DS George Martin (Toolan in the series), Sgt. Bill Wells, Sgt. Johnny Johnson, DS Arthur Hanlon (uniform sergeant in the series), DC Barnard, PC Jordan, PC Simms, WPC Hazel Page (Wallace in the series), PC Stringer, newspaper reporter Sandy Lane (Longford in the series), Dr. McKenzie, pathologist Drysdale (Simpkins in the series), his assistant Miss Grey, and Shirley, Frost's on/off love interest.
The iconic saxophone solo heard during the show's theme music was performed by Barbara Thompson.
The aspect ratios of A Touch of Frost have been the subject of discussion. From series 1 through to 5, the series was originally shown and transferred to DVD in the 4:3 aspect ratio (which was still mostly the UK television norm in the 1990s). From series 6 onwards, the show was shown in a widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio. The DVD releases reflected this change. However, from 2012, ITV3 HD have been broadcasting a growing number of episodes of the series in high definition, remastered from the original 16mm source. In these HD versions, even the opening series are shown in widescreen. Comparisons to the 4:3 version of the shows (still available on DVD) have shown that the frame has been "opened-up" to include previously unseen parts of the frame. This not only means that these episodes fit the widescreen ratio without cropping out important material, but that they are a new experience.
In Australia, the series aired on ABC, UK.TV and 7Two. In Canada, the series aired on Knowledge, SCN and TVOntario. In New Zealand, the series aired on Prime (New Zealand), TV1 and UK.TV. In the United States, the series aired on A&E Network. In the Netherlands, the series aired on KRO, while in Italy on La7.
|Title||Number of Episodes||Region 1||Region 2||Region 4|
|The Complete First Series||3||30 March 2004||18 October 2004||4 August 2008|
|The Complete Second Series||4||25 May 2004||18 October 2004||3 November 2008|
|The Complete Third Series||4||28 July 2004||18 October 2004||3 November 2008|
|The Complete Fourth Series||5||23 November 2004||18 October 2004||2 February 2009|
|The Complete Fifth Series||4||29 March 2005||18 October 2004||2 February 2009|
|The Complete Sixth Series||4||28 June 2005||18 October 2004||1 May 2009|
|The Complete Seventh Series||2||27 September 2005||18 October 2004||1 May 2009|
|The Complete Eighth Series||2||27 September 2005||18 October 2004||1 May 2009|
|The Complete Ninth Series||2||25 April 2006||18 October 2004||26 June 2009|
|The Complete Tenth Series||3||25 April 2006||18 October 2004||26 June 2009|
|The Complete Eleventh Series||2||31 October 2006||21 November 2005||31 July 2009|
|The Complete Twelfth Series||1||31 October 2006||21 November 2005||31 July 2009|
|The Complete Thirteenth Series||1||29 April 2008||6 November 2006||31 July 2009|
|The Complete Fourteenth Series||3||28 July 2009||27 October 2008||8 June 2010|
|The Complete Fifteenth Series||2||30 November 2010||12 April 2010||8 December 2010|
|The Complete Series 1–5||20||N/A||18 October 2004||27 November 2009|
|The Complete Series 6–10||13||N/A||18 October 2004||N/A|
|The Complete Series 6–15||22||N/A||16 August 2010||N/A|
|The Complete Series 1–15||42||N/A||15 August 2011||9 December 2015|
- http://www.screenonline.org.uk/tv/id/1206994/index.html The British Film Institute's page on A Touch of Frost.
- "A Touch of Frost (an Episode Guide)". Archived from the original on 25 March 2012. Retrieved 20 March 2012. Seasonal credit list forA Touch of Frost at epguides.com
- New a touch of frost filming in my home town
- Daily Telegraph David Jason quits as Frost.
- Biography page Archived 20 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine of Barbara Thompson.
- "A Touch of Frost Series 1–5 DVD Aspect Ratio".
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