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Not Only... But Also... (1965-71)

Courtesy of BBC

Main image of Not Only... But Also... (1965-71)
BBC, 9/1/1965-26/2/1966; 18/2-13/5/1970
14 x 45, 7 x 30 mins plus two specials, black & white, colour
Produced byJoe McGrath
 John Street
 Dick Clement
 James Gilbert
ScriptsPeter Cook
 Dudley Moore

Cast: Peter Cook; Dudley Moore

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Sketch comedy series with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, frequently in the guise of Pete and Dud, Dagenham philosophers discussing weighty issues over a pint.

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There are few genuinely groundbreaking comedy shows and even fewer that deserve the label 'classic', but Not Only... But Also... (BBC, 1965-70) is rightly acknowledged as both. Created by the writing and performing partnership of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore - previously partners, with Alan Bennett and Jonathan Miller, in Beyond the Fringe - the show adopted the traditional sketch-based approach but abandoned many of its rigid conventions.

The series attracted a number of well-known guests, including John Lennon, Cilla Black, Ronnie Barker and Peter Sellers, but the real stars were Pete and Dud, two cloth-capped sages from Dagenham, who discussed weighty topics over a pint. Their absurd exchanges were studies in comic ingenuity which frequently descended into stifled laughter from Cook and Moore as they tried not to giggle at their characters' stupidity.

Many of Pete and Dud's deadpan conversations started from such an absurd point it was often hard to imagine where the two might end up. In one sketch, Pete tells Dud about his recent nocturnal adventures. "I was lying in bed the other night when I heard tap, tap, tap at the bloody window pane. I looked out - you know who it was? Bloody Greta Garbo!" Their art gallery conversation, offering their views on great artists, epitomises Pete and Dud's comic brilliance.

The show featured numerous other classic sketches, including the Leaping Nuns of St Beryl - who resurfaced in the pair's film Bedazzled (d. Stanley Donen, 1967) - and a Good vs. Evil cricket match. One regular section, Poets Cornered, featured guest comedians, including Frank Muir, Spike Milligan and Barry Humphries, spontaneously reciting rhyming verses on pain of being dropped into a vat of gunk. But perhaps the best remembered routine is Superthunderstingcar, a wickedly observed spoof of the Gerry Anderson puppet shows.

The first series ran for seven 45-minute episodes, trimmed to 30 minutes for its second run in 1966. Not Only... But Also... returned for its third and final series in 1970 but there were also two episodes specially filmed for Australian broadcaster ABC which the BBC transmitted in July 1971 as Peter Cook and Dudley Moore in Australia.

Cook and Moore went on to record three highly obscene comedy albums in the guise of Derek and Clive, but Cook's increasing drink problem and Moore's blossoming Hollywood career effectively killed the partnership.

Anthony Clark

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Video Clips
1. Bloody Betty Grable (4:20)
1. Sir Arthur Strieb-Griebling (4:09)
3. A good leg for the role (2:24)
4. Art gallery (7:38)
Cook, Peter (1937-1995)
BBC2 (1964-)
The Roots of Monty Python