‘There is a nude orgy scene, but I don’t actually strap myself on to anything of the female nature,’ Dudley Moore tells Valerie Singleton about his latest film 10 in this interview from Tonight in Town in 1979.
While his comedy partner, Peter Cook has little to do but smoke cigarettes and rehearse the sidekick role he’d soon be performing, a few year’s down the line, for Joan Rivers’ chat show in 1986.
Thankfully, after a brief chat, Cook is allowed show off his mercurial, comic talents in an improvised sketch with Moore. It’s not classic Pete ‘n’ Dud, but it’s still worth watching, as so much of what these two comedy greats made has been sadly lost.
Bonus - seldom seen ‘Not Only, But Also’ sketch, after the jump…
Half the episodes of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore’s 1960’s sketch comedy series, Not Only… But Also were wiped by the BBC in order that the videotape stock might be used again. Doctor Who episodes, Spike Milligan’s Q5 series and many other significant moments of British television history were lost to this short sighted “penny-wise, pound-foolish” policy.
Thankfully, this classic sketch, “The Glidd of Glood” did survive. It’s one of my favorite, favorite things ever. This would be a great short to show before a screening of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Very much in the same vein and very, very funny.
John Lennon made three appearances on Not Only… But Also, the mid-1960s BBC sketch comedy show starring Peter Cook and Dudley Moore.
Also seen here is British actor Norman Rossington, who was in A Hard Day’s Night and the first British “New Wave” film Saturday Night and Sunday Morning with Albert Finney. You’ll also catch a glimpse of a young Diahann Carroll at the end.
At least once a year, I find myself watching the Peter Cook-Dudley Moore version of Bedazzled, a film I find both uproarious and poignant in equal measures. Peter Cook, playing perhaps the most charming devil figure in cinematic history, strikes a deal with hapless fry cook Dudley Moore: seven wishes for Moore’s soul (seeking reentry into heaven, Cook’s working his way to a hundred billion of ‘em). The humor is dry (Cook walks in during a Moore suicide attempt and says, “I do hope this isn’t an awkward moment.”), the direction comes via Singin’ In The Rain‘s Stanley Donen.
The Cook-Moore comedy partnership started in England in the early ‘60s with Beyond The Fringe, and then went on to reach even greater absurdist heights with Not Only…But Also. Many of those early clips have migrated over to YouTube, but just today I stumbled across a Not Only… clip I’d never seen before (above), one claiming to be part of a “prize-winning documentary made for Idaho television.”
In it, Cook and Moore perform their faux Beatles diddy, “The L.S. Bumble Bee,” a song described by the 365 Days Project thusly:
The story goes that a few DJs played the record, “The L.S. Bumble Bee,” claiming that it was an unreleased Beatles’ track, or else an advance from their forthcoming, highly anticipated masterpiece “Sgt. Pepper’s.” True or not, the song managed to sneak its way on to several Beatles bootlegs throughout the 1970s, convincing many more that it was an authentic outtake.
In a letter from December of 1981, Moore offered a bit of insight: “Peter Cook and I recorded that song about the time when there was so much fuss about L.S.D., and when everybody thought that “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” was a reference to drugs. The exciting alternative offered to the world was L.S.B.!, and I wrote the music to, in some ways, satirize the Beach Boys rather than the Beatles. But I’m grateful if some small part of the world thinks that it may have been them, rather than us!”
But what really sticks with you is how perfectly this song captures the lollygaggery of the wondrous hippie fantasy machine that was the late 1960s. Its sparse instrumentation, with distant shimmering pianos, screaming babies, and jangly, seagull-like guitar effects set it apart from other psychedelic satires, but it goes further still. Its inviting lyric is more genuinely hallucinogenic than much of what has been labeled “psychedelic” throughout the years.
Don’t miss the “surprise” guest that pops up at the end. Below you can watch Peter Cook, whom Stephen Fry called “the funniest man who ever drew breath,” singing the Bedazzled theme song.
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