Sir David Frost loses out as credits roll on West End Films

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Sir David Frost faces thousands of pounds of losses as the television production company he co-founded three years ago moves closer to being wound up.

Sir David Frost faces thousands of pounds of losses as the television production company he co-founded three years ago moves closer to being wound up.

West End Films, which has racked up losses of £1.23m, is believed no longer to be actively trading after failing to win enough commissions for its productions.

Sir David, who will end his long-running Sunday morning news programme this year, has invested around £50,000 in the company. It is not known how much - if any - of his investment he will be able to recoup.

The broadcaster, who is a non-executive director, did not return phone calls.

West End Films' most potentially lucrative commission was for the adaptation of Polo, based on Jilly Cooper's novel. After buying the rights to the script, it has not secured a commission "despite strong initial interest", the company said in its annual report filed earlier this month.

There had been speculation that actress Sienna Miller, who is engaged to actor Jude Law, had been lined up to play the lead role in the steamy drama, following the on- and off-pitch antics of the polo set.

Models Jodie Kidd, herself an amateur polo player, and Kate Moss were also rumoured to be poised to star in the production for the company, which has been in talks with Carlton International and BBC Worldwide about the programme.

Other planned productions include the feature film Dissolution, which Kenneth Branagh has agreed to direct, but it is understood a commission has not been secured for this either.

The company was also hit by the death of its chairman and main creative force, George Murray-Smith, from a heart attack in December 2003. It commissioned Mr Murray-Smith to write many of the scripts for its productions.

Close Brothers, West End Films' bank, wrote late last year to shareholders - who include Sir David with a 2.7 per cent stake - asking them if they wanted to continue backing the company or recoup the remainder of their investment ahead of the company's annual general meeting in December.

Its new chairman, Malcolm Craddock, told shareholders in the annual report that it would try to sell its development projects, but would not be able to sell the company's portfolio as a whole: "Therefore we do not expect shareholders to receive a cash return for their shares."

The board "now believes that it is in the best interest of the shareholders that either the company is wound up solvently or that the company's assets are restructured ..." he said.

The annual report said there was only one project with any value, the TV drama Carla broadcast 18 months ago.

A Close Brothers banker said of the December meeting: "We believe shareholders have made a 'negligible value claim'. We would be very surprised if there were any revenue inflows into the company."

The death of Mr Murray-Smith was significant to the fortunes of the company, which for the year to June 2004 reported a loss of £806,084, he said. This includes a write-down of £547,860 to the company's production development roster, because, the company says, "as a direct result of Murray's death, we feel that it is unlikely that a commission will be realised".

As well as investing cash in the company, Sir David agreed to waive his £20,000 per year director's fee from October 2003.

The company raised £1.33m in two placings in 2001 and 2002, the first of which was supported by Sir David, who contributed £20,000. He also injected more money into the business last year to keep it afloat.

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