A Touch of Frost

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For the novel, see A Touch of Frost (novel).
A Touch of Frost
Alt=Series title over a headshot of Frost peering through cell bars
Genre Police procedural
Based on Characters created by
R. D. Wingfield
Starring David Jason
Bruce Alexander
John Lyons
Theme music composer Barbara Thompson
Jon Hiseman
Composer(s) Barbara Thompson
Jon Hiseman (1992–97)
Ray Russell (1999–10)
No. of series 15
No. of episodes 42 (List of episodes)
Production
Producer(s) Yorkshire Television
Running time 24 x 1h41m
2 x 1h14m
4 x 1h13m
4 x 1h38m
3 x 1h33m
3 x 1h32m
2 x 1h28m
Production company(s) ITV Studios
Broadcast
Original channel ITV, STV, UTV
Picture format 4:3 (1992–2000)
16:9 (2001–10)
Original run 6 December 1992  –
5 April 2010

A Touch of Frost is a television detective series produced by Yorkshire Television (later ITV Studios) for ITV from 1992 until 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, with screenplays credited to Wingfield.[1][2]

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 assisted by a variety of different detective sergeants, with each bringing a different slant to the particular case. Comic relief is provided by Frost's interactions with the bureaucratically minded Superintendent Norman 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.

Background[edit]

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 Oxfordshire, though there are many references to Reading, Oxford, and in particular, Swindon, especially in the earlier episodes, as the M4 and A417 are often seen, and the map of Swindon was seen in the control room, although a map of Reading was used occasionally. The programme is produced by ITV in Leeds, and most of the outdoor locations are shot in West Yorkshire. Several scenes are filmed in and around the city and district of Wakefield and neighbouring small towns of Pontefract and Castleford, West Yorkshire.[3] 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."[4]

Several episodes have direct allusions to "Star Trek". Dr McCoy's catchphrase "I'm a doctor not a ..." is heard in several episodes, turned into "I'm a police surgeon, not a ..." or "I'm a pathologist, not a ...". Frost himself states that "the only place with more warp factors than Denton is Starship Enterprise", in response to a remark by Mullett about warped minds.

Cast[edit]

Character Number of Episodes Year(s) Featured Portrayed by
Supt. Norman Mullett 42 1992–2010 Bruce Alexander
DCI Jim Allen 5 1992–1994 Neil Phillips
DCI Charlie Hawkes 3 1995 Matthew Marsh
DCI Jim Peters 4 1996–1997 Nigel Harrison
DI Jack Frost 42 1992–2010 David Jason
DS George Toolan 39 1992–2010 John Lyons
DS Sandy Gilmore 1 1992 Tony Haygarth
DS Hazel Wallace 11 1992–2003 Caroline Harker
DS Clive Barnard 4 1992–1997 Matt Bardock
DS Maureen Lawson 3 1994–2003 Sally Dexter
DS Frank Nash 1 1996 Neil Stuke
DS Rab Prentice 1 1996 Russell Hunter
DS Liz Maud 2 1997 Susannah Doyle
DS Billy Sharpe 2 1999-2005 Philip Jackson
DS Bill Dorridge 3 1999–2000 Paul Jesson
DS Terry Reid 4 2001-2003 Robert Glenister
DS Annie Marsh 1 2008 Cherie Lunghi
Sgt. Bill Wells 15 1992–2010 Paul Moriarty
Sgt. Arthur Hanlon 10 1992–1995 Bill Roarke
Sgt. Johnnie Johnson 10 1992–1996 Stuart Barren
Sgt. Don Brady 25 1996–2010 James McKenna
PC Timmy Lambert 2 1992 Martin Moss
PC Chris Jordan 4 1992-1994 Ian Driver
PC Keith Stringer 5 1992-1994 Christopher Rickwood
PC Harry Simms 12 1992-1996 George Thompson
PC Ernie Trigg 27 1994–2010 Arthur White
PC Mike Austin 3 1994 Colin Buchanan
PC Donny Craven 3 1996 Ian Mercer
WPC Claire Toms 1 1996 Colette Brown
WPC Lindsey Hunter 1 1996 Katrina Levon
WPC Elizabeth Brent 3 1996 Jan Graveson
WPC Annie Holland 2 1997-1999 Miranda Pleasance
WPC Susan Kavanagh 2 2000 Georgia MacKenzie
WPC Harmison 1 2006 Emily Corrie
DC Andy Webster 1 1992 George Anton
DC Mark Howard 9 1992–1996 Jon Sotherton
DC Carl Tanner 1 1994 Lennie James
DC Frank Costello 1 1994 Neil Dudgeon
DC Mike Ketley 4 1994-1996 Jim Shepley
DC Tony Collier 2 1997 Charles De'Ath
DC Ronnie Lonnegan 2 2002 Michelle Joseph
DC Jasper Tranter 1 2004 Nicholas Burns
DC Robert Presley 1 2006 Blake Ritson
Dr. William McKenzie 20 1992-2008 David McKail
Dr. Derek Simpkins 18 1992-2006 David Gooderson

Characters[edit]

Main characters[edit]

  • DI Jack Frost (David Jason, 1992–2010), is a very empathic and sensitive detective, whose talents are offset by human failings, which includes drinking other people's tea & coffee. 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 do the work. Frost is widowed in the first episode. He had planned to leave his wife but just as he was going to tell her she announced 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 this he was awarded the highest British civilian award for gallantry, the George Cross. He is respected and admired by his colleagues and is shown to be a good-hearted, if flawed, character.
  • 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. 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. Frost's nickname for Mullet 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 mullett is a species of fish commonly found in British coastal waters but not usually eaten as it is regarded as being bland. In the last ever series Frost was offered a well deserved promotion to the rank of Detective Chief Inspector but in the last ever episode Frost declined the promotion and decided to retire from the police force instead.

Detective Sergeants[edit]

  • 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. 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 only the second main character 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 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.
  • 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, but 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, who's 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 Trig 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.

Other characters[edit]

  • 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 come about, and he appears to share Mullett's dislike of Frost. In the series however, he and Frost initially get on quite well, often working together, sharing jokes about Mullett and concern for each other's emotions on particularly harrowing cases. However, they share significant arguments in Allen's final two appearances in the series.
  • 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.

Jack's Girlfriends[edit]

  • Shirley Fisher (Lindy Whiteford, 1992-2000), the nurse who cared for Jack's terminally ill wife. She later develops a relationship with Jack, 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. 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 "No Other Love", following the death of one of Jack's closest colleagues, DS Clive Barnard.
  • 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 plowing 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.

Production[edit]

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

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"). 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".

The iconic saxophone solo heard during the show's theme music was performed by Barbara Thompson.[5]

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 means that the episodes fit the widescreen ratio without cropping out important material. [6]

Episodes[edit]

DVD releases[edit]

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 N/A

International broadcasters[edit]

Country Translation TV network(s)
Australia Australia Seven Network, UK.TV and 7Two
Belgium Belgium VRT
Canada Canada Knowledge, SCN, TVOntario
India India Karamchand DD 1
Croatia Croatia Frostov pristup ("Frost's approach") HRT
Denmark Denmark En sag for Frost ("A Case for Frost") DR1, TV 2 Charlie
Finland Finland Komisario Frost ("Inspector Frost") YLE
France France Inspecteur Frost ("Inspector Frost") France 3 TMC
Italy Italy Jack Frost La7
Japan Japan フロスト警部 ("Detective Inspector Frost") AXN Mystery
Lithuania Lithuania Frosto prisilietimas LRT
Netherlands Netherlands KRO
New Zealand New Zealand Prime (New Zealand), TV1, UK.TV
Norway Norway Detektiv Jack Frost ("Detective Jack Frost") NRK1
Poland Poland Sprawa dla Frosta ("A Case for Frost") Universal Channel
Romania Romania Frost Universal Channel
Slovenia Slovenia Frost Kanal A
Sweden Sweden Ett fall för Frost ("A Case for Frost") SVT1, Kanal 9
United States United States A&E Network

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.screenonline.org.uk/tv/id/1206994/index.html The British Film Institute's page on A Touch of Frost.
  2. ^ http://epguides.com/TouchofFrost/guide.shtml Seasonal credit list forA Touch of Frost at epguides.com
  3. ^ http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=219015
  4. ^ Daily Telegraph David Jason quits as Frost.
  5. ^ Biography page of Barbara Thompson.
  6. ^ http://www.avforums.com/forums/blu-rays-dvds-download-services/1567695-touch-frost-series-1-5-dvd-aspect-ratio.html

External links[edit]