Pioneering British broadcaster David Frost dies of a heart attack

British broadcaster Sir David Frost arrived at the U.K. Premiere of W.E. in in January, 2012. Daniel Deme / EPA, file

British journalist David Frost, who was best known for his interview with former President Richard Nixon, died on Saturday, his family said. The veteran broadcaster was 74.

It was his 1977 interviews of the former president that cemented Frost's reputation around the globe. The young British broadcaster's persistent questioning drew an apology from President Nixon for Watergate.

"I let the American people down and I have to carry that burden with me for the rest of my life,” he said, watched by an audience of 45 million people.

Thirty-five years later the encounter is still a master class of interviewing technique and a gripping piece of drama.

The President had resigned from the White House three years earlier following the Watergate scandal. David Frost later said that he could sense Nixon's vulnerability and knew he had to get it right. In 2007 the exchange was worked into a movie – the Oscar-nominated "Frost/Nixon.”

He was a versatile broadcaster. During his 50-year career not only were there plenty of heavyweight interviews – Frost sat down with multiple US presidents and British prime ministers – but there was also a string of satirical news shows, celebrity interviews, and some light entertainment.

"The Week That Was,” presented by Frost when it launched in 1962, was a groundbreaking show that mocked the British establishment. It was broadcast on Saturday evenings and its sketches lampooning politicians, churchmen and celebrities drew huge audiences. Production style also broke the established rules with, for example, technical equipment in vision.

TW3 as it was known was followed by "The Frost Report", another satirical show broadcast in Britain. Comedian and actor John Cleese, at the start of his career, was a writer together with others who then formed Monty Python's Flying Circus.

"Through the Keyhole" was a tour of celebrity homes, and "Breakfast with Frost" a Sunday morning show where the presenter sat down with a range of guests from politics and show business. The long list of those who agreed to be interviewed by Frost throughout his career includes Nelson Mandela, Paul McCartney, Orson Welles, Muhammad Ali and Prince Charles.

At the end of his career he hosted a show on Al-Jazeera English – a return to the long-form interviews of earlier years.

It's believed the 74-year old died from a suspected heart attack whilst due to give a talk on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean.

David Frost had many friends who have paid tribute to his wit, humor and generosity. British Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: "My heart goes out to David Frost's family. He could be – and certainly was with me – both a friend and a fearsome interviewer."