The Establishment
 Pub & Bed
 The Spiggott
 Rainbow Tapes
 Clive Anderson
 Derek & Clive
 Dudley Moore
Coming Soon
 Coming Soon
. . .
The Establishment

Stanley Moon and George Spiggott - Bedazzled

Peter Cook Biography pt02
Not Only . . . But Also
Behind The Fridge
by Peter Gordon
go to part three
 Peter Cook Presents The Misty Mr. Wisty LP
audio files taken from the wonderful 1965 album.
 Peter Cook Docu
as we were asked to contribute 'ideas' for the Carlton TV "Legends" docu, I thought I'd make it available via the site.

 Would you like us to notify you, via email, each time we update The Establishment?

 Hosted by Yahoo!, this list is used only to announce updates at and is in no way supposed to replace the Peter Cook eMail List.


As 1964 drew to a close, Cook's main professional activity, outside Private Eye, was his long-awaited, if rather low-key, breakthrough on television. Aside from two one-off television appearances, one in a televised version of Beyond The Fringe (1964 BBC2), and one on American television with John Bird What's Going On Here? (1963 NBC), and a couple of guest spots, Cook's first regular work took his oldest creation, now rechristened E.L. Wisty, to the nation in ATV's On The Braden Beat (1964). Wisty would give short monologues, mainly extolling the virtues of his World Domination League, which he had formed with his unseen friend, Spotty Muldoon [See P&B #12,17,18]. The character was a hit, but was not quite high profile enough to make Cook the success he could have hoped for.

Meanwhile the BBC had shown an interest in Dudley Moore as a solo star and, based around his comedic ability and musical talent, decided to make a pilot show around him with some musical and comedy guests. Moore asked Cook to come along to do a couple of sketches with him with a possible view to him being a resident guest on the show. The pilot, directed by Joe McGrath, turned out to be everything the BBC had hoped for, and the two sketches performed by Cook and Moore were such a success that it was decided to commission a further series of six, this time based on Cook and Moore as a double act with McGrath directing. The show was called Not Only... But Also, and the two sketches were based around already existing Cook characters - one around a Sir Arthur Greeb-Streebling, an upper-class idiot who had wasted his life trying to teach ravens to fly underwater with Moore in the straight interviewers role, and another where what was effectively two E.L. Wistys swapped fantasies where they were pursued day and night by '50s Hollywood temptresses. In the latter sketch the two characters were titled Pete and Dud and their conversations, later called The Dagenham Dialogues, became the most popular items of the series.

As the characters of Pete and Dud developed their relationship, with Pete as the pseudo-informed idiot and Dud as the uninformed idiot who swallowed whatever rubbish Pete came out with, they proved to be one of the funniest double acts of all time. Part of their attraction was Cook and Moore's attempt to make each other laugh on set by deliberately improvising new jokes or inserting prepared ones that the other didn't know about. Interestingly the double act of Cook and Moore, as exemplified by The Dagenham Dialogues, broke the convention of the straight man/ funny man routine which was considered standard, such as Arthur Haynes and Nicholas Parsons or Morcambe and Wise, and replaced it with a master/ subordinate relationship. Both men were funny, with Pete as the assured, dominant half of the act and Dud as the submissive, more childlike half - a stylistic innovation that can clearly be seen reflected in many more recent double acts, such as Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones, Rob Newman And David Baddiel, or Stewart Lee and Richard Herring.

The first series of Not Only... But Also aired on BBC2 from January-April 1965 and was repeated in May on BBC1, and was a huge success. The next project for Cook and Moore was an appearance as the Finsbury brothers in Bryan Forbes's comedy movie The Wrong Box (1966). The second series of Not Only... But Also was transmitted January-February 1966 on BBC2, this time produced by Dick Clement [See P&B #17], and was as well received as the first series had been. This was followed by an appearence in Jonathan Miller's television adaptation of Alice In Wonderland (1966 BBC2) as The Mad Hatter, and a Not Only... But Also Christmas Special (1966 BBC2).

After an uncharacteristically long break from the public eye, Cook and Moore made their break as a starring movie double act in Bedazzled (December 1967). The film, based on the Faust legend, concerned Stanley Moon (Moore), who works in a burger-bar and is besotted with a waitress there, Margaret (Eleanor Bron), but cannot bring himself to tell her. In a fit of despair he decides to kill himself but is stopped just in time by the devil (Cook), or George Spiggott as he calls himself. In return for Moon's immortal soul Spiggott promises Moon seven wishes which he can use to try to gain Margaret's love. Moon agrees but with each wish me makes Spiggott finds a way of thwarting him in all his endeavours, save that of getting an ice cream. The film, scripted by Cook alone and directed by Stanley Donan, who previously directed Singin' In The Rain, is one of the most marvellous comedy films ever made and is required watching for all human people.

Unfortunately the film did poorly at the British box office and was generally regarded, commercially at least, as a flop. The consensus was that the film had confused the British public's expectations, who had presumably expected an hour-and-a-half long Dagenham Dialogue rather than a complex and sophisticated comedy about love, theology and popular culture.

The next few years saw Cook try his hand several times at the film world, appearing solo in a straight, minor role in A Dandy In Aspic (1968), a spy movie, then two more minor roles with Moore, firstly in Richard Lester's film of Spike Milligan and John Antrobus's stage play The Bedsitting Room (1969), and then in Monte Carlo Or Bust (1969). Cook then starred in his own again in the title role in The Rise And Rise Of Michael Rimmer (1970), Cook rewriting John Cleese and Graham Chapman's original script. Alas none of the films were great successes, critical or commercial, and the cinema was to remain the one area Cook could never conquer.

Meanwhile, on television, Cook and Moore left the BBC temporarily for Lew Grade's ATV to make a series of three one-hour specials called Goodbye Again (August-September 1968) [for broadcast details see P&B #14], with another one-off special the following year, produced by Shaun O'Rhiordan. Response to the series was generally that it was not up to the standard of their work with the BBC, criticism that must have struck home as their next move was to go back to the BBC to produce another series of Not Only... But Also (February-May 1970), which was to prove to be the last. Directed by Jimmy Gilbert, and now in colour, the new series attempted to be a tad less 'obvious' than the previous two, a bit more experimental, and viewers could not fail to notice that Moore was now starting to get out from under Cook's domineering persona and establish himself more strongly within the double act, both as a performer and writer. The critical response was more muted than it had been for the previous BBC series, with the feeling that Cook and Moore had somehow broken a winning formula, but then again any series that has a sketch in it like The Making Of A Movie is worth its weight in gold so what the fuck do critics know? [for broadcast details of all three series see P&B #12,13,17]

The final chapter in the Not Only But Also saga came with two shows made in Australia (Feb 1971 ABC, Jun 1971 BBC1) [see P&B#24], a mixture of old and new material. Cook now decided that he had, for the moment, had enough of Not Only... But Also and, more specifically, with his double act with Moore. The indifferent reception accorded to The Rise And Rise Of Michael Rimmer had put him off movies as the next step in his career, so he decided to return to British television, on his own, to host a show that would be a mixture of sketches and a chat show, with himself as host. The show was called Where Do I Sit? (February-March 1971) and was a total disaster. Cook found it hard to take any interest in his guests, the sketches seemed designed purely to provoke outrage rather than be funny and, worst of all, Cook tried to sing. The show was pulled after only three weeks [See P&B #13, 21].

Partly to escape the embarrassment of this failure, the first one of significance in his career, Cook agreed to re-unite with Moore for a single TV play, An Apple A Day, written by John Antrobus (July 1971 BBC1). Meanwhile, the last Not Only... But Also specials had been such a success in Australia that Cook and Moore were offered a five-month stage tour of Australia and New Zealand, which they called Behind The Fridge (1971-72), with all new material. The show consisted of some wonderfully dark sketches, including Mini Drama, a complete departure for Cook and Moore, a conversation between an apparently homicidal taxi-driver and his panic stricken fare. If anyone tells you stuff like Blue Jam is new, play them that.

Cook returned to London to make another solo appearance in an undistinguished film, The Adventures Of Barry McKenzie (1972), and a single TV play called Mill Hill (1972 BBC2), by John Mortimer. Cook's career looked adrift and his drinking was beginning to effect his professional life. Part of the reason for his increased alcohol intake at this time may have been the long term breakdown of his first marriage. His life with Wendy was effectively over and he had long since publicly declared his girlfriend Judy Huxtable to be his new partner, but Cook remained devoted to his two daughters by Wendy, Lucy and Daisy, and the long absences from home while on tour, along with the acrimonious state of relations with their mother, meant he saw little of them. This, compounded with his floundering career, seeming to cover the same old ground over and over again, saw Cook resorting more and more to the bottle.

Behind The Fridge began its London run at The Cambridge Theatre (1972-73), under the direction of Joe McGrath. Reviews were lukewarm-to-cold and relations between Cook and Moore began to breakdown as Cook's on-stage drinking became more obvious. The show then transferred to America under the title Good Evening (1973-75), opening in Boston, then moving to New York where it stayed before launching a full tour of the US and was, in comparison to the London run, a huge success. Some of the material from the original show was considered too parochial for an American audience, so it was decided to drop certain sketches in favour of older ones like One Leg Too Few. Peter and Judy were married in New York in 1974.

By the end of the run of Good Evening, Cook and Moore's partnership was nearing breaking point. When the time came for the show to end, Cook returned home to his new home in Perrin's Walk, Hampstead, which he had bought in 1973, and Moore decided that he would stay in America and go to Hollywood to try to make it as a film star on his own. Cook returned to England with the comic partnership that had brought him mainstream success, to all intents and purposes, over, only for it to later re-emerge in the strange mutated form of Derek & Clive.

go to part three

 Have you joined the Peter Cook eMail List yet? If not, this could be your ideal opportunity. To see our page giving further details of the list, please select the link below (you will not leave this site).
 Peter Cook eMail List
I run ting, Anne T'ing.