Former Grandstand presenter Frank Bough has died at the age of 87.
The TV sports personality died on Wednesday in a care home, a family friend confirmed.
Frank is credited with pioneering breakfast television, launching BBC’s Breakfast Time in 1983 alongside Selina Scott and Nick Ross – and later becoming one of the highest paid presenters on TV.
In the days where TV programming began abruptly at 9am, Frank’s voice was the first to be broadcast out to the nation as part of a breakfast TV show at 6.30am on January 17, 1983.
Adored by viewers, Frank became known for his smooth, unflappable and in control broadcast style.
The sportsman began his presenting career on Sportsview in 1964 – taking over from Peter Dimmock – where he charmed viewers for four years before moving to the BBC’s flagship sports programme, Grandstand.
The TV sports personality died on Wednesday in a care home, a family friend told the BBC
Frank was born in Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent, to an upholsterer father and mother and was the first of his family to attend higher education.
He had a childhood full of ‘very happy days’ growing up with his sister, he told BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs.
He won an all-rounder scholarship to Oxford University, where his enthusiasm for football came to a forefront.
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.
One of the country’s highest-paid broadcasters – on a reputed £200,000 salary – he was sacked by the Corporation after a red-top Sunday newspaper revealed he had taken cocaine with prostitutes at a Mayfair brothel.
Frank is credited with pioneering breakfast television, launching BBC’s Breakfast Time in 1983, alongside Selina Scott (pictured together) and Nick Ross
The presenter, adored by viewers, became known for his smooth, unflappable and in control broadcast style
Amid a torrent of more damaging revelations, he attempted to stem the tide by giving an ill-advised interview to the now defunct News of the World 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.
Early start: The first episode of Breakfast Time, pictured in 1983, included a champagne celebration. Bough is pictured centre, surrounded by his team
Talented: Frank Bough delivers a segment on the Breakfast programme
He said he’d been lured into the world of high-class prostitutes after being introduced to a French-born vice queen.
While he later went on to work for other broadcasters including Sky and London’s LBC radio, his career never fully recovered from the News of the World scandal and he retired in 1998.
In 2001 he had to undergo a transplant after doctors found he had liver cancer.
Co-hosts: Bough pictured with co-hosts Debbie Rix, left, and Selina Scott, right, in 1983
He insisted: ‘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 then claimed a therapist had cured him of his cocaine habit and his ‘other life’ – ‘for good’.
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.’
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.’