Clement Freud: In His Own Words Review: Deadpan Genius

December 22, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

5clement300CLEMENT FREUD: IN HIS OWN WORDS: Tuesday 22nd December, BBC 4, 9pm ALERT ME

You probably know Clement Freud even if you don’t actually know his name. He’s the guy who looks and sounds exactly like a human version of Droopy, the miserable cartoon dog.

His hangdog expression aside, Freud has led a remarkable life as a chef, a politician, a gambler, journalist and a TV and Radio personality, not to mention being the grandson of the most famous psychologist ever to have lived.

Who better to talk about Freud than Freud himself? He’s probably the only person that could do justice to his particularly dry sense of humour. In this excellent and illuminating documentary we’re treated to some of the highlights from Freud’s remarkable life, sparkling with his trademark deadpan delivery.

Privately educated, he joined the Ulster rifles during the Second World War where he acted as an aide to Field Marshall Montgomery. He was later the liaison officer for the Nuremberg Trials at which he said he drank because there was no other way to deal with it.

It’s here that Freud’s frank and honest delivery is first evident. He makes no apologies for himself or anything that he’s ever done and this refreshingly direct approach makes him an instantly likable character. This coupled with his razor-sharp wit and lugubrious delivery makes him absolutely hilarious.

After the war, he became a cook at the Dorchester (a place at which he freely admits nepotism was the reason for him landing the job). “Nothing we could do to the customers was bad enough? he reflects, revealing the kind of culinary terrorism that Tyler Durden would be proud of. When he saw the Commie chef urinating in the stock pot he asked him why he was doing that “That’ll teach ‘em, the rich bastards? he said. Best not to reflect on that too much next time you eat out.

Eventually he bought a restaurant in Soho which was immediately popular because it was the only one that didn’t have a five shilling limit. Freud reflects how he sold horse meat and the joys of being an owner, “If a customer starts complaining about his soup, as a manager you have to apologise. As an owner you can just say sod off?

From there he opened a nightclub and eventually a cabaret where he was the first person to employ such luminaries Rolf Harris, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore and David Frost. He was also one of the first TV celebrity chefs before the term was even coined.

After his popularity he decided to run for Parliament, eventually winning a seat as liberal – a post he held for 17 years. On politics, he said he went from “He’s that nice chap who cooks” to “He’s that bastard who won that election.?

He also reflects on his life as a gambler, a drinker and getting old. His son Matthew recalls a time when Clement would get him to bet his pocket money on which shape would be selected on Playschool.

It’s a fascinating insight into a man that you might only know as “that bloke off the telly? and a wonderful portrait of a man who packed as much into one lifetime as many would into 10. A must see.