Frost waives fees and puts up £35,000 to rescue his faltering film company

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The Independent Online

Sir David Frost has offered to stump up around £35,000 of his own money to keep his loss-making film company afloat.

The veteran TV presenter, one of four directors of West End Films, has also agreed to waive his director's fees. The company made a loss of £319,000 for the year to last June, compared to a loss of £107,000 for its previous year, accounts just filed at Companies House reveal. It was set up just two years ago.

West End Films' most high-profile production is an adaptation of the Jilly Cooper novel Polo. Rumoured to be starring model and amateur polo player Jodie Kidd, the company is in talks with Carlton International and BBC Worldwide to sell the programme. It also co-produced the TV drama Carla, which drew an audience of almost seven million in September.

The board had agreed to inject £138,500 last month so it could continue trading. Sir David and chairman George Murray-Watson agreed to jointly contribute £69,000 of the total, but Mr Murray-Watson died over Christmas. The company did not return calls from The Independent on Sunday about how it would replace the funding.

During the period covered by the results, the company - which has yet to make a profit - raised an additional £140,000 by issuing more shares.

Close Brothers, which has a director on the board and also acts as the firm's banker, has agreed to waive its fees until mid 2004, when West End Films hopes to receive at least two commissions.

Explaining the losses, the company's notes say: "Since the company was launched two years ago, advertising budgets have been severely reduced, owing to the proliferation of media outlets, denying broadcasters access to earlier, vast, captive audiences, and this has led to significant cutbacks in commissioning ..."

West End Films added that it had also been hit by the Government's removal of tax benefits for television producers and the disappearance of insurance policies to cover productions. Directors' pay increased to £114,000, up from £54,000 for the previous year.

Sir David also runs another TV production company, David Paradine Productions.