Terence Frisby: 1932-2020

Former WGGB Chair Gail Renard pays tribute to award-winning playwright, screenwriter and actor Terence Frisby
Terence Frisby

Terence Frisby, a former WGGB member, was an award-winning playwright, screenwriter, actor and the envy of writers everywhere. His play, There’s A Girl In My Soup, was the longest running West End play at the time, running from 1966-1973.

The play opened at the Globe Theatre and starred Donald Sinden as a middle-aged celebrity chef/womanising cad who meets his match in a 19-year-old American young woman. The play encapsulated sex and the Swinging Sixties and started its life touring as Mr Danvers’ Downfall.

Sinden’s son, film-maker and actor Marc Sinden, explained: “When agents say you can guarantee it’ll come into the West End after the tour, it usually doesn’t.”

A play originally due into the Globe was delayed. The management called producer Michael Codron to ask if he had anything to bring in for eight weeks? Mr Danvers’ Downfall was renamed There’s A Girl In My Soup.

“Who knew that Mr Danvers’ Downfall would have broken West End records?”

The play was also a worldwide hit on Broadway, in Sydney and all major European cities, with Gerard Depardieu playing the chef in Paris. In 1970 There’s A Girl In My Soup was made into a film starring Peter Sellers and Goldie Hawn. Terence’s script won him the Writers’ Guild Award for Best British Comedy Screenplay.

His other stage plays included The Subtopians, The Bandwagon, It’s All Right If I Do It, Rough Justice and Funny About Love, though none repeated the unprecedented success of There’s A Girl In My Soup.

Terence’s book, Outrageous Fortune, told of his success, marriage, toxic divorce and 13 years of litigation over access to his only son, Dominic. Terence helped to set up the fathers’ rights group, Families Need Fathers.

He also wrote many plays for television. His comedy series include Lucky Feller with David Jason. His radio play Just Remember Two Things: It’s Not Fair And Don’t Be Late for BBC Radio 4 won the Giles Cooper Award.

Terence was a warm, funny and sociable man with a wide smile that could light up a room. My condolences to his son Dominic Frisby.

Photo: Nick Randell