While a torrent of damaging sex and drug revelations resulted in viewers turning their backs on former BBC broadcaster Frank Bough, there was one person who remained loyal until the very end – his wife, Nesta Howells.
The Grandstand host, who died in a care home last Wednesday, aged 87, was one of the country’s highest-paid broadcasters for much of his career – on a reputed £200,000 salary.
However, in 1988, a year after he left Breakfast Time to become the presenter of the BBC’s Holiday programme, he was sacked by the Corporation after a red-top Sunday newspaper revealed he had taken cocaine with prostitutes at a Mayfair brothel.
Despite two public sex and drug scandals which affected his future career, Nesta continued to stand by her husband – even going so far as to express her disgust at the press.
‘Everybody has a sex life and a sexuality and that should generally stay within the confines of the family,’ she said. ‘These newspapers are dismantling and destroying institutions and people and for what? How much further do we have to go before there is some control?’
Frank Bough, who died aged 87 last Wednesday, met his future wife Nesta while he was doing his national service in the Royal Tank Regiment. Pictured, one holiday together
Frank and his wife Nesta attending the Rainbow Ball in aid of terminally-ill children and their families at the Dorchester Hotel in London
Frank’s dalliances with cocaine and prostitutes became public knowledge in 1988. Pictured, with his wife Nesta at the satellite TV awards in Olympia, London in 1993
Frank Bough met Nesta at a dance while he was doing his national service in the Royal Tank Regiment.
Nesta, a Welsh physiotherapist, was working at the military base Park Hall Camp, near Oswestry at the time.
They tied the knot after Frank left the army in 1959 and opted to honeymoon in Switzerland – after deciding their first choice of the Scilly Isles was out of their price range.
The couple went on to have three sons together – David, Stephen and Andrew – who lead lives away from the public eye.
However, Frank’s dalliances with cocaine and prostitutes shocked viewers who knew him as a clean-cut family figure who donned a variation of comfy patterned jumpers.
Amid a torrent of more damaging revelations, Frank attempted to stop further speculation by giving an ill-advised interview to the now-defunct News of the World in an attempt to protect his marriage and spare his children humiliation.
The couple tied the knot after Frank left the army in 1959, and went on to have three sons together- David, Stephen and Andrew. Pictured, together at their Berkshire home
Despite Frank’s public shame, Nesta, a physiotherapist, stood by him. Pictured, the television presenter with his wife
In a grovelling mea culpa, he confessed to snorting cocaine with escort girls and drug-pushers and to watching couples have sex at wild parties, though he insisted the drug made him unable to have sex himself.
He added he’d been lured into the world of high-class prostitutes after being introduced to a French-born vice queen.
He insisted: ‘I’m not a wicked man, nor do I mean any harm or evil to people. I’ve made mistakes, but everyone’s entitled to do that. No one suffered but my wife, my family and myself.
‘It was a brief but appalling period in my life. Don’t condemn my entire career for a brief episode I regret.’
He then claimed a therapist had cured him of his cocaine habit and his ‘other life’ – ‘for good’.
Despite his public shame, Nesta, a physiotherapist, stood by him – but admitted to being angry and that she did contemplate leaving him.
Speaking in a Sky News programme, she said: ‘Obviously I have thought, ‘Do I stay or do I go?’.
Frank Bough and his wife at premiere ‘Fried Green Tomatoes at the whistle stop cafe’ London, 1992
‘We have been together a long time. We have brought up a family. We have still got a lot going for us. I do feel betrayed by it, but I do not feel that it is anything personal to do with me.’
When the scandal died down, Frank resumed his career and was recruited by LWT to present its show Six O’Clock Live and then ITV’s Rugby World Cup coverage.
However, in 1992, more deeply embarrassing tabloid revelations were to follow after he was photographed leaving a sado-masochistic vice den. He was said to have spent 50 minutes in a ‘torture chamber’ featuring a slave cage and school canes.
The next day he went on TV with his wife and said shamefacedly: ‘I am feeling exceedingly stupid. I bitterly regret many of the things in my life, and if only I could undo them I would.’
He then went on to present a show on a London talk radio station, before disappearing from the public eye in 1996.
For the best part of 20 years, Frank and Nesta chose to live in reclusive obscurity, but he stepped back into the limelight when he decided to appear in a BBC2 documentary looking back at the 1983 launch of breakfast television which saw him anchor the BBC’s Breakfast Time.