FRANK Bough has gone to that great television studio in the sky, but wasn’t the life of the Pringled presenter a great morality tale? Wasn’t Bough’s story a horrific example of how we can judge, condemn and wreck the career of a man whom the sainted Cilla Black herself “loved to bits”?

Back in 1988, the News of the World (which had stalked Bough for seven years) revealed that the genial, unflappable anchor of the likes of Grandstand and Breakfast Time was found to have enjoyed visiting brothels, stripping off his golfing jumper and replacing it with women’s lingerie. And, on such occasions, he took cocaine.

The man described by Michael Parkinson as “the most unassailable performer on British television” was in fact anything but, thanks to his secret life as sexual libertine. The brothels he knew intimately contained cages that you assume weren’t used for containing the Madame’s Manx cats.

Uncle Frank, as he was known to colleagues, was sacked by the BBC. And the move saw the frontman’s career slide right out the backdoor. Yes, he managed to find work later with the likes of LBC but Gough’s professional goose was cooked. And the move by Auntie on the nation’s Uncle was one of the most striking acts of hypocrisy ever perpetrated by a television company.

At one time, The Herald was owned by STV, which issued a decree that its employees were forbidden from “courting” each other. At one time I was warned as to my behaviour about seeing a fellow journalist. (I tried, and failed, to stifle a laugh; at least three STV managers were in relationships with their employees.) But the BBC’s Boughing episode was far more egregious. It was fuelled by a false moral imperative, the Corporation seen to be acting for a sententious audience that demanded he had to be relieved of his position.

Why? Frank Bough didn’t present children’s programmes. He fronted sports shows, and later morning telly. As Bough himself wrote at the time in a bid to soften the story, “I am not a very important person. I am not a member of the Royal Family.”

The hypocrisy was further highlighted because television studios in the late 1980s looked like Walter White’s lab in Breaking Bad. The decision to boot Bough out was risible.

It was true the journalist had, sadly, become the story. He was lampooned, for example, by Angus Deayton on Have I Got News For You (he’d come to regret his hubris) but did Bough – or Deayton –need to be dismissed because of their relationships with sex workers?

Yes, Blue Peter presenter Richard Bacon was rightly sacked after admitted to a liking for the wrong sort of coke. And radio presenter Jamie Theakston was forced to apologise after being caught on camera in an orgy with three prostitutes at a Mayfair brothel.

But Frank Gough, it seems, was dumped simply because of sniffy-nosed judgements.

We have to hope Frank Bough would have been treated differently today.

Since the days of his indiscretions we’ve become unaffected by claims that celebrities have paid sex workers for their time: Hugh Grant’s 1995 indiscretion has not impacted his career or popularity.

These days Bough would most likely be asked to write a book about his sexual adventuring, and appear on The Graham Norton Show.

We’ve certainly entered a new era of tolerance. When news emerged of Uncle Frank dressing up as Auntie Frances it was argued that a rugby presenter couldn’t wear women’s bedroom kit.

These days if a man wears women’s clothing – underwear, dresses – the likes of Eddie Izzard and Grayson Perry are hailed for championing freedom of expression, helping to establish the credo that gender lines are blurred. Drag TV reality shows are as popular as eye liner.

There are areas of behaviour, however, that are still not socially acceptable. Laura Watt, a research associate in social statistics argues, yes, we now accept same sex couples. Pre-martial sex certainly is no longer taboo. (Jason Manford and Vernon Kay have survived the sex text nonsense.) But we haven’t changed too much when it comes to extra-marital affairs. That’s still unacceptable. What this underlines is the only person who should have judged Frank Bough was his wife, Nesta. And she never threw him out.

Let’s hope the passing of Frank Bough serves to illuminate the darkness we imposed on those whose private lives should have been left exactly that.