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A tribute by John Donovan to RD Wingfield, creator of Inspector Jack Frost

Extract from the Daily Telegraph: Wednesday 8 August 2007.

R D Wingfield, the crime writer who has died aged 79, created Inspector Jack Frost, the ramshackle detective played by David Jason in the ITV series A Touch Of Frost; before finding success on television, Wingfield had been a stalwart of BBC radio drama, his hallmark being scripts with clever twists and unexpected plot developments.

A tribute by John Donovan

I had the very great pleasure of knowing Rodney Wingfield during his days at Petrofina in the 1960’s. At the time he was a clerk based at a small office in Wanstead.

My father, Alfred Donovan, was the proprietor of a Fina petrol station in Seven Kings, Essex. Rodney, who at the time had a stammer, had the great misfortune to deal with our telephone calls, saying for example that we were still waiting for Pump Maintenance to arrive to fix a broken down petrol pump.

Like my father, Rodney loved a joke and to poke fun at the pompous District Manager, Mr Nor, known as “Dr No”.

Jack Frost was the UK sales promotion manager for Fina. An ex-military man with a white moustache, he was always immaculately dressed and displayed a red carnation in his coat buttonhole. A hugely enthusiastic gentleman of the old school, he was nothing like his namesake, Inspector Jack Frost.

Rodney Wingfield (R. D. Wingfield)

In 1967, I drove Rodney and Jack Frost to Burwood Park in Surrey one evening to launch a Fina national sales promotion which my father and I had devised. The vino flowed freely and Jack was completely blotto by the time it came to drive home. Rodney and I had to almost carry him into his residence.

Many years later my father and I visited Rodney at his home in Basildon and he very kindly drafted the text for a sales leaflet for a promotional tie in to the popular TV programme, Dallas.

We cannot claim to be close friends of Rodney. In fact we had no contact with him for over two decades, being engaged in a small spat with another oil company, but we do have fond memories of one of the nicest people we have ever come across.

It was a shock to read that he is no longer with us: my deepest commiserations to his son.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/08/08/db0802.xml

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