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Not Only... But Also
Fresh from their success collaborating with Alan Bennett and Jonathan Miller on Beyond The Fringe, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore exploited their successful chemistry in this seminal sketch series from the 1960s.
Despite his apparent dominance in the partnership, Peter Cook was a late addition to the show, which had been conceived as a solo vehicle for Moore (the But Also… was intended to highlight the presence of a weekly special guest).
Each episode opened with Pete and Dud revealing the show’s title on increasingly surreal and bizarre backdrops.
Not Only...But Also, most famously showcased their so-called 'Dagenham dialogues' in which Pete (a nasal know-all who has utter confidence in his surreal and ill-informed philosophies on life) and Dud (credulous, dim-witted and scruffy) discuss all manner of subjects, bedecked in cloth caps and Macs.
Performed in front of a studio audience and without the benefits of post production, these exchanges allowed free reign to Cook’s anarchistic performance style, in which he seemed compelled to reduce his partner to fits of unscripted giggles.
So infectious was this that Cook himself was not immune and with both performers 'corpsing', the audience could not fail to be swept along in a tidal wave of joyful mirth.
The homespun duo was seen to boast about their supposed conquests of famous beauties, whom they resented as an annoyance: "Tap, tap, tap at the bloody window pane. I looked out, you know who it was? Bloody Greta Garbo!"
Perhaps their most famous head-to-head was their discussion of art and how the eyes of painted ducks followed them around the room. The image of little Dud stuffing his mouth with a sandwich in an attempt to stem the flow of his giggles is unforgettable.
Cook specialised in offbeat character; including Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling, an eccentric and thoroughly British buffoon regaling the audience with tales of his bizarre and pointless exploits.
Moore's musical skills were also at the fore, notably tinkling on the piano for the show's suavely delivered closing theme: 'Goodbye-e'.
Other memorable creations included a spoof of Gerry Anderson's puppet adventure series entitled Superthunderstingcar; the Leaping Nuns Of St Beryl and Poets Cornered: in which guest comics were threatened with being dropped into a container of slushy muck (a tradition carried on by later anarchic television practitioners like the Tiswas team and … er … Noel Edmonds) whilst reciting verse.
The show's guests included Leonard Rossiter, Spike Milligan, Norman Rossington, Barry Humphries, Eric Sykes and John Lennon.
Shockingly, much of Not Only... But Also, was purged from the BBC Archives during the 1970s.
This was common practice at the time, but what makes it all the more heartbreaking is that Cook actively sought to preserve the work, even offering to buy the prints himself.
Typically, BBC red tape prevented him from doing so and much of the series is thus lost forever. Material has surfaced from time to time and compilations of what remains have been broadcast several times.
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