Arts

Sir Clement Freud 1924 to 2009

Born in Berlin in 1924, Clement Freud was the grandson of the now infamous psycho-analyst Sigmund Freud, a fact which the former was often reluctant to celebrate, and brother of renowned artist Lucien Freud. A lifelong feud between the two siblings resulted in them not speaking to one another for more than fifty years.

Lack of financial support prevented Freud from attending university, and he opted instead to train as a chef at London’s prestigious Dorchester Hotel. After serving in the armed forces during the Second World War, Freud began a successful career as the founder-owner of the Royal Court Theatre Club in the 1950s, where he liaised with many up-and-coming talents in the fields of entertainment.

Later success as a newspaper reporter was suitably apt for a man with a talent for precision of language (remarkable to think that he could not speak a word of English upon his family’s arrival to Britain in 1933). His reports included not only his first love of food and drink but also extended to the worlds of sport (he was a lifelong horse-racing pundit) and entertainment.

His television appearances began as a celebrity chef on various cookery programmes in the 1960s, as well as in a series of dog food commercials accompanied by his companion “Henry”. His one-time remark that “breakfast is a notoriously difficult meal to serve with a flourish” will be amongst his best-remembered.

In 1973 Freud was selected as the Liberal parliamentary candidate for the Isle of Ely by-election. He astonished critics by winning the seat for his party which finally allowed him to enjoy a career he considered worthwhile. During his time in Parliament he served as the Liberal spokesperson for education and the arts, and was a key figure in the downfall of James Callaghan’s Labour government in 1979. He was defeated in the 1987 election, the year in which he was also knighted by the Queen.

After his career as an MP, Freud returned to broadcasting, appearing in a variety of television and radio shows, including Shooting Stars and Have I Got News For You.

However, it is for his appearances on BBC Radio 4’s panel game Just A Minute that Freud will be most fondly remembered. It once again acted as a vehicle for the man to display his exhaustive verbal intellect and dry wit. Freud’s droll, slow- speaking style and richly eloquent voice, complemented by an ever-present deadpan expression, will remain eternally fixed on the minds of his listeners.

Among his other notable talents, Freud served as Rector of St. Andrews University in Scotland and found fame as a children’s author with the publications of the Grimble series of stories. He was also a lifelong supporter of the abolition of smoking in public places.

He died whilst working at his desk in his London home, only two weeks after his final victorious appearance on Just A Minute. He is survived by Jill, his wife of 58 years, five children, and seventeen grandchildren. His funeral was held on 24th April, on what would have been his 85th birthday.

 

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