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

Mr Jolly Lives Next Door

Peter Cook Biography pt03
Derek & Clive
Mr Jolly
by Peter Gordon

go to part four

 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.


After his return from America, Cook was left with seemingly nothing to do and nowhere to go. Moore had effectively called off their partnership and, without the fall back of the double act, he felt somewhat adrift.

After a small part in a forgettable film, Find The Lady (1976), Cook turned his mind to back to the double act, more specifically to some old tapes he and Dudley had done mainly for themselves and a couple of friends. The recording sessions, which took place in 1973 during the Behind The Fridge tour, had a rough, improvised feel and would cover topics that Pete and Dud could never have done before a normal mainstream audience, and were primarily done as a rest from the scripted, crowd-friendly nature of the 'Fridge performances. The language was often obscene, sketches would be broken up by filthy songs, and the flights of fancy would be completely absurd and scatological. The main characters were essentially the Pete and Dud of the Dagenham Dialogues, re-christened Derek (Moore) and Clive (Cook), but much angrier, with more swearing and gynaecological references.

The tapes recorded, first in front of a selected audience then again in a recording studio [it now appears Cook & Moore may have first recorded Derek & Clive material in London - see Pub & Bed #22 for further details], Cook and Moore thought little of them until they noticed that they were beginning to do go round on bootleg and were becoming quite popular in their own right. Island Records eventually released a proper album of the sessions, Derek And Clive(Live) (1976) and, much to everyone's surprise, it was a huge hit and renewed interest in the Cook and Moore double act, now re-invented as aggressive rebellious comedians with a new potential youth market. Cook was very enthusiastic about the new venture, but Moore was less so, fearing that it would damage his chances of making it as a film star in Hollywood, although he needn't have worried - it was the publicity following the Derek And Clive albums that convinced Chevy Chase that Moore was a bankable actor when he suggested him for the film Foul Play (1978), Moore's first big movie hit. As it was, Moore's Hollywood career in 1976 was not taking off as he had hoped and he reluctantly came home to help Cook promote the album. Apart from that, the only other performance they made together that year was as guest hosts of the American comedy show Saturday Night Live (1976).

1977 started off well for Cook. He was writing a weekly column for The Daily Mail called Peter Cook's Monday Morning Feeling, and working with Moore again. They performed at a number of galas, all old material, and the two were working on the script for a new film, The Hound Of The Baskervilles (released 1978). As shooting began for the film, however, things began to go wrong. The director chosen was Paul Morrisey, a protégé of Andy Warhol's Factory and keen fan of British comedy films, especially the Carry On series. He insisted that he be allowed to re-write the original script, putting in what he must have thought was good bawdy British innuendo but which was, in fact, crass rubbish. Cook and Moore were also, at Morrisey's behest, forced to re-enact many of their older sketches, none of which worked and most were eventually removed, apart from a terrible rendition of One Leg Too Few. Morrisey's directing style, which relied on improvisation and actors 'finding' their characters was at complete variance with the Carry On style of quick-fire gags, comic reactions and quick cutting, and the whole approach was at variance with Cook and Moore's entire style, which was based on characterisation, observation, wit and a dollop of whimsy. To add to the misery, Morrisey came down with hepatitis and filming was delayed, robbing the film of what little momentum it may have had. The film remains torture to watch [See P&B #20].

During the filming of The Hound, Cook was also involved in a recording project with Godley and Creme, which became a triple album, Consequences (1977), released on Phonogram Records. It was a concept album, musically based around Godley and Creme's invention The Gizmo, which clamped to neck of a guitar and made strange noises. Cook provided a narrative play for the album, set around the divorce of Mr and Mrs Stapleton and the eviction of the Wisty-esque Mr Blint. Whatever the merits of the album and play, the album bombed. While Godley and Creme and Cook were locked away recording it, punk took over the rock world and the idea of releasing a triple album based around a narrative play and something with a name as stupid as The Gizmo looked ridiculous and sold virtually nothing.

Cook and Moore returned to the recording studio to make the second album Derek and Clive album, Derek And Clive Come Again (1977), released on Virgin records. This was the first full-on D&C album and presented an even harsher, bleaker, weirder, and more obscene form of comedy than the first album. It is also, if you are prepared to go along with it, one of the most savagely funny albums ever made. Dialogues revolve around such subjects as the availability of hamburgers up Joan Crawford's cunt, a man who became a carpet, northern comic Alfie Noakes, wanking over Clement Attlee and a competition to see who's got the most cancer. There's little point in us writing a spirited defense of Derek And Clive here, the material isn't remotely interested in being defended. For some, Derek and Clive represent the ugly, unworthy end of a once wonderful partnership, for others it's comic ecstasy, improvised lyrical comedic scatology, for others it's two pissed blokes being very rude and very funny. Make your own mind up.

Derek and Clive brought Cook to the notice of the new punk audience and he was chosen to present the ATV series Revolver (July-September 1978). In the guise of an old-fashioned dance hall proprietor, Cook would introduce bands such as The Buzzcocks, X-Ray Spex and a young XTC from a giant screen in the studio, royally slagging off each band as they came and went [See P&B #17, for Cook and The Sex Pistols see P&B #12].

The third Derek and Clive album, Ad Nauseum (1978), was released on Virgin again, and was much in the same vein as Come Again, although possibly lacking some of the second album's creative energy. Highlights include a horse racing commentary, a discussion of who makes you more horny, a dead pope or Lord Longford, the worst impression of Bruce Forsyth known to man, and The Critics, a sketch parodying Derek and Clive's detractors. The best sketch, though, has to be The Horn, which goes on for ages, goes absolutely nowhere, and is quite wonderful. For me, some of the comic invention of Come Again had been replaced here by an over-reliance on 'shock tactics' such as the use of overtly racist language and graphic misogynist imagery, but for others it is precisely the extreme nature of the material on this album that makes it superior to it's predecessor. Once again, listen to it and reach your own conclusions.

Some of the Ad Nauseum sessions were filmed for Derek And Clive Get The Horn (released 1980), which Cook was keen to release but Moore, who hated the film, refused; in addition The British Board of Film Censors would not give it a certificate. Cook got around the BBFC by trying to release the film on home video and, while Moore still managed to block it in America, it did come out in Britain some two years after it was made. The videos were then seized by the Greater Manchester Police under obscenity laws, and distribution was held up. Meanwhile the distribution company for the video went bankrupt and copies were taken as assets. Next to no copies were sold and the film was to remain unre-released until 1993. Cook and Moore's disagreement about the nature of the material in Ad Nauseum and the fight over the release of Get The Horn marked the final blow for their double act and they parted company.

The next twelve months was a largely fragmented period for Cook, with one shining highlight. The fragments included playing Prince Disgusting in the Cambridge Footlights radio pantomime Black Cinderella 2 Goes East (December 1978 Radio 4), devised by Douglas Adams and written by Clive Anderson and Rory McGrath, and a role as Count Yourchickens in a radio pilot called Tales From The Crypt (1979) by Rory McGrath and Griff Rhys Jones. While no series was commissioned from the latter, the programme may or may not bare a resemblance to the album Glompus Van Der Hloed's Tales From The Crypt by McGrath and Jimmy Mulville, which starred Andrew Sachs. Cook also took part in a series of interviews with David Dimbleby, Person To Person (1979), which took a distinctly aggressive turn when Dimbleby began pointing out the present lull in Cook's career.

But the shining highlight of 1979 was a hastily cobbled together sketch called Entirely A Matter For You, written for an Amnesty stage show The Secret Policeman's Ball, featuring Cook [See P&B #18]. He had done two previous Amnesty Shows, A Poke In The Eye With A Sharp Stick (1976), which was released as the film Pleasure At Her Majesty's (1977), and The Mermaid Frolics (1977), recycling old material for both shows. At The Secret Policeman's Ball, legend has it, one of the first-night reviewers pointed out that the programme was once again just full of old Cook and Monty Python sketches and was just a bit cosy instead of being bitingly satirical. Cook said something to the effect of "Right, if they want satire, I'll give it to 'em," and rushed off to write a parody of the judge's summing up in the Jeremy Thorpe trial. The sketch, written by Cook and performed alone, is simply one of the greatest pieces of comedy ever conceived, by Cook or anyone else. We've tried not to get too gushing about things so far in this biography thing, but this one piece is an absolute triumph. Every sentence contains at least one fantastic gag, often more, but constructed in such a way that one never feels the pudding to be over egged. It is simply the most beautiful comedy prose you will ever hear, so there. A record of the sketch, Here Comes The Judge (1979) was released by Virgin on a mini-LP, along with some sketches performed with Not The Nine O'Clock News producer John Lloyd, and the piece formed part of the film of the Amnesty Show, called The Secret Policeman's Ball (1980).

Cook now turned his attention back to television and, after a brief appearance in Spike Milligan's Q9 (8 September 1980), made his first solo hit TV show, Peter Cook & Co (1980) [See P&B #14]. The show contained nearly all new material, written by Cook and Bernard McKenna, including a wonderful piss-take of Roald Dahl ("Ronald was a pretty ordinary name and, until I dropped the 'n', nobody took a blind bit of notice"), a mad German ant expert, and a grand finale featuring E.L. Wisty's song Lovely Lady Of The Roses. Critical response was good, especially in America, and the possibility of a series came up, but Cook decided to commit to a new American sitcom he had been in two pilot shows for. The US series was slow to take off the ground, so to fill in time began negotiations for a new film script with McKenna and Graham Chapman, and wrote the foreword for Paula Yates's book Rock Stars In Their Underpants (1980).

The American sitcom, The Two Of Us (1981-82 CBS), an American version of the British Two's Company, was given two more pilots before the series was commissioned. The show cast Cook as an English butler to Mimi Kennedy as his American employer. Very much an average US sitcom, the ratings were, at first, rather healthy, but soon plummeted out of the top forty and the show was dropped by the end of the first series. The show was later repeated in Britain (1983-84 ITV).

Yellowbeard (1983), the film Cook wrote with Bernard McKenna and Graham Chapman, was finally released, but only served to add itself to the list of Cook's cinema failures [See P&B #15]. The plot concerned the titular pirate, played by Chapman, whose bastard son had been brought up by an unwitting aristocrat, Lord Lambourne, played by Cook. It was a confused film, with occasional brilliant passages but, on the whole, not good. In addition to this, there would seem to be a film directed by Michael Mileham and Phillip Schuman called Group Madness (1983), which, one supposes, is a behind-the-scenes style look at the making of Yellowbeard. To be honest we've no idea, we've only seen a reference to it on the Internet Movie Database. If anyone has a clue what this is about, please drop us a line.

Cook performed in another charity show, An Evening At Court (1983) at the Theatre Royal, this time to raise funds for a former Cambridge friend Adrian Slade. For the show Cook wrote a new Wisty sketch, performed by himself and John Cleese, called Inalienable Rights [See P&B #15]. From this he landed a regular spot on the 1983 run of Russell Harty And Friends delivering Wisty monologues as he had done in On The Braden Beat, and he appeared later the same year in a cameo as Richard III in the first series of The Black Adder. He also had a part as a maths teacher turned villain in the film Supergirl (1984), but we really don't want to think about that.

He made another live performance in The Nether Wallop Arts Festival (1984). He appeared in one sketch, with Mel Smith, in a tin hut in a field in the Hampshire village. The sketch was called The Lesbian Synchronised Swimmers and was, apparently, in rehearsals, a very funny, witty piece of writing by Smith and Cook. On the day itself, though, the two men had far too much to drink before going on stage and consequently forgot their lines and were forced to improvise their way through a completely new routine.

The year 1985 saw a number of cameos and guest appearances on such shows as Bob Monkhouse's Comedy Showcase (BBC1), Who Dares Wins (Channel 4) and Kenny Everett's Christmas Carol (BBC1), as well dusting off E.L. Wisty again for two series of Twenty Years On (1985-86), a look back at the '60s hosted by David Frost. A low point came in 1986 with the BBC1's Can We Talk, a terrible chat show hosted by Joan Rivers where Cook acted the part of resident guest and supposed foil to Rivers' supposed wit. Cook just sat there looking miserable throughout each show. The only possible benefit of the show was that it briefly re-united Cook and Moore as guests.

The highlight of this rather drab passage in Cook's professional life was his edition of Saturday Live (1986 Channel 4). Cook's contribution consisted of entirely new material, although some of it repeated themes of previous sketches, and Cook appeared re-vitalised as a comic force. There was an impression, or rather an interpretation, of Ferdinand Marcos, another 'Wisty on a bench with a stranger' sketch, this time with John Fortune, a slightly naff sketch with John Bird and Cook as a couple of builders, and a return to Cook's roots with an impression of an elderly Harold Macmillan, now called Lord Stockton. Best of all is a wonderful extended flight of fancy with Cook as bandleader James Last touring Britain. A wonderful, never repeated piece of work [See P&B #20].

Film cameos and talk shows continued to support Cook, including the part of British Prime Minister Sir Mortimer Chris in the cinema transfer of TV's Whoops Apocalypse (1986), a rather OTT political satire, the part of a bishop in Rob Reiner's The Princess Bride (1987), which was surprisingly similar to his bishop in the The Making Of A Movie sketch from Not Only... But Also, and Without A Clue (1988), a Sherlock Holmes spoof with a nice small part for Cook. Best of all, though, was the title role in The Comic Strip Presents... Mr Jolly Lives Next Door (1987). Cook played Jolly, a professional killer of some never-clearly-defined description who happens to have an office next door to Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmonson's escort agency. The film is a kind of link between Mayall and Edmonson's Dangerous Brothers and Bottom and really centres around them, but Cook is excellent and seems to relish in the goriness of his role.

A number of projects drifted away in a haze of manyana and missed deadlines, such as The Dark Horse From The Grass Roots, a fictional documentary based around a Ross Perot-esque presidential candidate Morton P Fergelburger (Cook). As Cook entered the last phase of his life, belief and interest in Cook as a writer and performer began to wane but, as he was to prove, he could still sparkle when he mustered the effort.

go to part four

 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.