Clement Freud

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Sir Clement Freud
Member of Parliament
for North East Cambridgeshire
In office
9 June 1983 – 11 June 1987
Preceded by Constituency created
Succeeded by Malcolm Moss
Member of Parliament
for Isle of Ely
In office
26 July 1973 – 9 June 1983
Preceded by Henry Legge-Bourke
Succeeded by Constituency abolished
Personal details
Born Clemens Raphael Freud
(1924-04-24)24 April 1924
Berlin, Weimar Republic (present-day Germany)
Died 15 April 2009(2009-04-15) (aged 84)
London, England
Nationality British
Political party Liberal
Spouse(s) June Flewett
(m. 1950-2009; his death)
Relations Lucian Freud (brother)
Sigmund Freud (grandfather)
See also Freud family
Children 5
Parents Ernst L. Freud
Lucie Brasch
Occupation Writer and broadcaster, Politician, Chef
Religion Anglican

Sir Clement Raphael Freud (24 April 1924 – 15 April 2009)[1][2][3] was a British broadcaster, writer, politician and chef.

Early life

He was born Clemens Raphael Freud in Berlin,[2][4] the son of Jewish parents Ernst L. Freud (an architect) and Lucie née Brasch. He was the grandson of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud and the brother of artist Lucian Freud. His family fled to Britain from Nazi Germany, and his first name was anglicised to Clement.[5] He spent his later childhood in Hampstead where he attended the The Hall private preparatory school.[6] He also attended two independent schools: he boarded at Dartington Hall, and also went to St Paul's School, London.[5]

During the Second World War Freud joined the Royal Ulster Rifles and served in the ranks. He acted as an aide to Field Marshal Montgomery. He worked at the Nuremberg Trials and in 1947 was commissioned as an officer.[7] He married June Flewett (the inspiration for Lucy Pevensie in C. S. Lewis's children's series The Chronicles of Narnia)[8] in 1950, and the couple had five children. Flewett had taken the stage name Jill Raymond in 1944, and since Clement's knighthood has been Lady Freud.[8]

Early career

Freud was one of Britain's first "celebrity chefs"; he worked at the Dorchester Hotel, and went on to run his own restaurant in Sloane Square at a relatively young age. As well as this, he had various newspaper and magazine columns, and was later a familiar face on television for his appearance in a series of dog food advertisements (at first for Minced Morsels, later Chunky Meat) in which he co-starred with a bloodhound called Henry (played by a number of dogs) which shared his trademark "hangdog" expression. In 1968, he wrote the children's book Grimble, followed by a sequel, Grimble at Christmas, six years later.

Whilst running a nightclub, he met a newspaper editor who gave him a job as a sports journalist. From there he became an award-winning food and drink writer.[9]

Political career

Prior to politics, Freud (given his background and ancestry) longed for a distinct occupation by which he could be acclaimed, rather than just being "the man off the telly"; his chance came in the 1973 Isle of Ely Parliamentary by-election, which he won. He was Liberal Member of Parliament for that constituency (later North East Cambridgeshire) from 1973 to 1987. On his election, he was hailed as the first Jewish Liberal MP for decades (though he had become Anglican at the time of his marriage[10]). His departure from Parliament was marked by the award of a knighthood.

In his column in Racing Post, issue of 23 August 2006, he wrote about his election to Parliament in a by-election: "Politically, I was an anti-Conservative unable to join a Labour party hell-bent on nationalising everything that moved, so when a by-election occurred in East Anglia, where I lived and live, I stood as a Liberal and was fortunate in getting in. Ladbrokes quoted me at 33-1 in this three-horse contest, so Ladbrokes paid for me to have rather more secretarial and research staff than other MPs, which helped to keep me in for five parliaments."

His autobiography, Freud Ego, recalls his election win, and shortly after, when asked by his wife June, "Why aren't you looking happier?", he wrote "It suddenly occurred to me that after nine years of fame I now had something solid about which to be famous... and cheered up no end." During his time as a Member of Parliament, he visited China with a delegation of MPs, including the grandson of the wartime prime minister Winston Churchill. When Churchill was given the best room in the hotel, on account of his lineage, Freud (in a reference to his own famous forebear) declared it was the first time in his life that he had been "out-grandfathered".[11]

Callaghan and Freedom of Information

In the last year of Callaghan's government it proposed reinventing the one year Lib-Lab Pact which lapsed in July 1978, to include introducing a Freedom of Information Act, long proposed by the Liberals; however James Callaghan himself was opposed to this kind of legislation. Towards the end of the 5-year term was a March 1979 Vote of No Confidence against Callaghan's government and Freud was expected to follow his party and vote with the Opposition. Due to by-election defeats Labour's Callaghan ran a minority government and sought support of members from opposing parties to support him that day; to that end Clement Freud, in Liverpool at the time, received a phone call from the Prime Minister's Office at 3pm asking him to miss his train back to London for the 10pm vote of no-confidence, in exchange, a "looser" version of his proposed Freedom of Information Act would be enacted. He declined the offer and voted as stated by his party, after the lapse of the Lib-Lab pact, for an immediate general election. Otherwise the government could have continued until October 1979.[12]

Radio, music, academia

For many, Freud was best known as a panellist on the long-running Radio 4 show Just a Minute, in which his deadpan delivery was popular with audiences. In one edition during his turn to speak he said: "There’s not much doubt but we are in a period of great inflation. As the farmer said to me the other day, 'Apples are going up,' to which I replied, 'This would come as a severe blow to Sir Isaac Newton.'" He also once reduced the audience, panel and chairman to hysterical laughter with the following joke: "This gentleman asked me, 'Why are you so fat?' To which I replied, 'It's because every time I sleep with your wife she gives me a biscuit.'"[13] (A similar comment has been attributed to the cricketer Eddo Brandes.) He was a contestant on the first episode of Just a Minute in 1967 and took part in every series until his death. Freud was known to be fiercely competitive. Fellow participant Paul Merton reminisced, "Clement's way of playing the game was to win: that's what he cared about."[14]

Freud performed a small monologue for the Wings 1973 album Band on the Run and appeared on the album's cover.

In 1974, he was elected Rector of the University of Dundee and served two three-year terms. A generation later, in 2002, he was elected Rector of the University of St Andrews, beating feminist and academic Germaine Greer and local challenger Barry Joss, holding the position for one term.

He appeared as a panellist on the comedy game-shows Shooting Stars (in 2002)[15] and Have I Got News For You (in 2001 and 2003).

Family and hobbies

His son Matthew Freud was formerly married to Caroline Hutton, who was the second wife of Earl Spencer; he then married media magnate Rupert Murdoch's daughter Elisabeth. Sir Clement Freud's daughter Emma Freud, a broadcaster, is the partner of Richard Curtis, scriptwriter of Blackadder and Four Weddings and a Funeral. His nieces (by his painter brother Lucian) are fashion designer Bella Freud and writer Esther Freud. His brother, Stephen Freud, has closely guarded his privacy, with the exception of an interview he gave to The Daily Telegraph.[16] Freud died without resolving a feud with his brother Lucian, thought to have dated back 70 years, over which of them was the rightful winner of a boyhood race.[17] The Freud family live in Walberswick in Suffolk.

Freud was a columnist for the Racing Post newspaper. Freud's enthusiasm for horse racing went as far as challenging Sir Hugh Fraser, then chairman of Harrods, to a horse race at Haydock in 1972. Freud trained for three months and lost some five stones for the event. Although Fraser, a country gentleman, was seen as a much better prospect, the two made a bet for £1,000-a-side. Freud used the long odds to his advantage, however, and shrewdly placed a large side bet on himself. Freud won the race and made a great deal of money. His horse, Winter Fair, went on to win the Waterloo Hurdle at Aintree that same year.[18]

Freud also wrote articles reviewing facilities for spectators at racecourses in Britain, especially catering. This led him to receive the nickname "Sir Clement Food".[19]

Death and funeral

Freud died at his home on 15 April 2009, nine days before his 85th birthday.[20] His funeral service was held at St Bride's Church in Fleet Street and was attended by a host of personalities from the media and entertainment industry including Bono, Richard Curtis, Stephen Fry, Paul Merton, Nicholas Parsons as well as several representatives from Westminster, such as then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown, then-Shadow Chancellor George Osborne and former Liberal party leader David Steel.[21] Freud had asked for his body to be cremated and his ashes scattered at his estate in Walberswick, Suffolk.[22] He was survived by his wife of 59 years, Jill Freud, his five children, his 17 grandchildren and his two elder brothers, Stephen and noted painter Lucian.[23]


  • 1968 - Grimble - illustrated by Quentin Blake
  • 1973 - Grimble at Christmas - illustrated by Quentin Blake
  • 1978 - Freud on Food
  • 1980 - Clicking Vicky
  • 1981 - The Book of Hangovers - 1982 paperback version illustrated by Bill Tidy
  • 1983 - Below the Belt
  • 1988 - No one Else Has Complained
  • 1989 - The Gourmet's Tour of Great Britain and Ireland
  • 2001 - Freud Ego
  • 2009 - Freud on Course - The Racing Lives of Clement Freud

See also


  1. Swaine, Jon (16 April 2009). "Sir Clement Freud dies at 84". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 17 April 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 Steel, David (16 April 2009). "Obituary: Sir Clement Freud". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 16 April 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Freud, Clement (2001). "Chapter 1". Freud Ego. BBC Worldwide.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Sir Clement Freud". Associated Press. 16 April 2009. Retrieved 16 April 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Sir Clement Freud", Daily Telegraph, 16 April 2009
  6. Obituary Hampstead and Highgate Express
  7. "London Gazette". London Gazette. 10 June 1947. Retrieved 17 April 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. 8.0 8.1 'I was sure that children would not want to be told that this old lady was Lucy', The Daily Telegraph, 11 December 2005.
  9. Swaine, Jon (16 April 2009). "Telegraph Obituary: Sir Clement Freud dies at 84". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 18 April 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. John Bunzl, Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi (2002). Psychoanalysis, Identity, and Ideology: Critical Essays on the Israel/Palestine case. Springer. p. 34. ISBN 1-4020-7155-8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Leitch, Luke (17 April 2009). "Freudian clips: The best of Clement Freud". The Times. London. Retrieved 17 April 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. interview with Freud on YouTube
  13. Transcript of episode from 2006 at
  14. Clement Freud on Just a Minute: A Celebration, BBC Radio 4, 26 May 2009
  15. Shooting Stars at
  16. Lusher, Adam (18 July 2008). "I am the forgotten Freud, says brother of Sir Clement Freud and Lucian Freud". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 15 April 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Clement Freud died without resolving feud with his brother Lucian at
  18. Green, Graham (16 April 2009). "Racing Post columnist Sir Clement Freud dies at 84". Racing Post.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Association of Jewish Refugees, 2001.
  20. Steel, David (16 April 2009). "Sir Clement Freud". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 30 April 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Low, Valentine (25 April 2009). "Sir Clement Freuds funeral rings fittingly with jokes and laughter". The Times. London. Retrieved 30 April 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22., Access date 2011-05-17.
  23. "Writer Clement Freud dies aged 84". BBC News. 16 April 2009. Retrieved 16 April 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • Crewe, Daniel. "One of Nature’s Liberals: the career of Sir Clement Freud, artist, journalist, chef, bon-viveur – and Liberal MP, 1973-87" in Journal of Liberal History, Issue 43, Summer 2004.

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir Harry Legge-Bourke
Member of Parliament for Isle of Ely
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for
North East Cambridgeshire

Succeeded by
Malcolm Moss
Academic offices
Preceded by
Peter Ustinov
Rector of the University of Dundee
Succeeded by
Baron Mackie of Benshie
Preceded by
Andrew Neil
Rector of the University of St Andrews
Succeeded by
Simon Pepper