Broadcaster Sir Clement Freud dies aged 84

By Matt Dickinson,Press Association
Sunday 24 November 2013 05:25
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Sir Clement Freud, the writer, broadcaster and former Liberal MP, has died, his family announced today.

He died at his desk yesterday at his home in London, nine days short of his 85th birthday.

A frequent contributor to Radio 4's Just a Minute show, Sir Clement was a grandson of the famous psychologist Sigmund Freud. His five children include the PR businessman Matthew Freud and TV presenter Emma Freud.

In a varied career since his famous family moved to the UK in the 1930s, Berlin-born Sir Clement worked as an apprentice cook at the Dorchester Hotel in London before joining the Royal Ulster Rifles during the Second World War.

But Sir Clement first became a household name in the 1960s and 70s in Minced Morsels dog food adverts.

His role on the small screen with Henry the dog launched him on a long career as a television and radio personality, helping him become a stalwart on the BBC's Just a Minute for more than 30 years.

Sir Clement, whose brother is the painter Lucian Freud, was also a celebrated food, sport and comment journalist, who worked for a string of titles including the Observer, the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Express.

Last year he spoke about his death, claiming his relatives would want to inherit his wine.

He wrote in the Times: "I lost Sigmund's night-shirts and the heavy leather luggage, but have quite a lot of wine, the odd painting, a letter from Margaret Thatcher and a picture of me with Muhammad Ali.

"I took my children around our flat in turns to glean who wanted to have what when we died. They all wanted all the wine, my wife's desk, my collection of cookery books and the same picture, so that will be no trouble.

"When it came to money, all are hugely well heeled and what I leave, especially a fifth share of what I leave, is likely to be an embarrassment: what they tip the milkman at Christmas."

His political career began in 1973, when he won the Isle of Ely constituency for the Liberals. He transferred to North East Cambridgeshire after boundary changes, but lost the seat in 1987.

The father of five was also knighted in 1987.

Comedian and writer Tony Hawks, who worked with Sir Clement, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Through his great intellect he would always bring out the best in you, because you sometimes would think 'Who's doing the show?' and when you knew it was Clement, you thought 'Oh, I'd better be on tip-top form'."

Listen to a Clement Freud joke

Fellow Just A Minute star Stephen Fry paid tribute to a "charming and wonderful man".

He told Today: "I got to know him because I was lucky enough to do a couple of Just A Minutes and I became immensely fond of him.

"I was at first very afraid of him - a lot of people were. There were stories that he was immensely grouchy, he was rude sometimes to people who asked for autographs. I never experienced that side of him at all.

"And another element to him which perhaps should not go unmentioned is his raffishness, if you like, his air of disreputability.

"He, during the 1950s and 1960s, was a real Soho figure, he knew all the girls of easy virtue, he knew the pimps, he knew the racetrack tipsters and, of course, the restaurateurs, which is where he learnt his business as a chef.

"His fund of stories about that time was simply remarkable, and he lived a sort of life on the edge. His brother Lucian is known as the more bohemian, I suppose, as an artist but Clement had that quality too."

Asked what Sir Clement was like to perform with, Fry added: "He was immensely good company and he enjoyed, I think, particularly meeting new young comedians.

"Just A Minute, of course, takes on new talent and he became very fond of that new generation, led by Paul Merton, who I suppose now is old guard.

"But I think after the sad, earlyish deaths of Kenneth Williams and Peter Jones he was left sort of marooned as the last of their generation but he really enjoyed the young clustering about him."

<b>Tom Morgan writes</b>: Without deviation or hesitation, Sir Clement Freud followed his family's daunting legacy of high achievement.

After a distinguished but busy career in print, radio, politics and even cookery, it may have come as little surprise to his family and friends that he would eventually die at his desk.

It was Sir Clement, of the the famous Freud dynasty, who was most happy on camera or in the radio studio.

The grandson of pioneering psychologist Sigmund Freud first became a household name in the 1960s and 70s when his lugubrious expressions caught the public's attention in Minced Morsels dog food adverts.

While also pursuing an career in politics with the Liberal party, his role on the small screen with Henry the dog launched him on a long career in broadcasting, helping him become a stalwart on the BBC Radio 4's Just a Minute comedy show for more than 30 years.

It was an unlikely career path for Sir Clement, who first moved to the UK with his family in the 1930s.

After attending St Paul's School, in London, he initially worked as an apprentice cook at the Dorchester Hotel in London before joining the Royal Ulster Rifles during the Second World War.

After Army service, during which he was a liaison officer at the Nuremberg war crimes trials, he returned to the hotel business, at the Martinez in Cannes.

He discovered a flair for writing on cookery for newspapers and magazines in the 1950s, and expanded into a variety of subjects, including sport.

Sir Clement, whose brother is the painter Lucian Freud, would eventually win awards for his journalism, working for a string of titles including the Observer, the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Express.

As his career diversified, he embarked on a political career in 1973, when he upset the odds to win the Isle of Ely constituency for the Liberals.

He would transfer to North East Cambridgeshire after boundary changes, before losing his seat in 1987. He was knighted later the same year.

Sir Clement, born in April 1924, was married, and had five children, including the television personality, Emma, and the PR businessman, Matthew.

Last year he spoke about his death, claiming his relatives would want to inherit his wine.

He wrote in the Times: "I lost Sigmund's night-shirts and the heavy leather luggage, but have quite a lot of wine, the odd painting, a letter from Margaret Thatcher and a picture of me with Muhammad Ali.

"I took my children around our flat in turns to glean who wanted to have what when we died. They all wanted all the wine, my wife's desk, my collection of cookery books and the same picture, so that will be no trouble.

"When it came to money, all are hugely well heeled and what I leave, especially a fifth share of what I leave, is likely to be an embarrassment: what they tip the milkman at Christmas."

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