4 November 2007 | Chip_douglas
Now is the time to say hello... and welcome back Pete & Dud
Legend has it that Peter Cook only badgered the BBC to rebroadcast highlights from this old show because his dear old mother, Margaret, put him up to it. But as we're talking about the one and only 'Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling' here, it might just as well has been his own insistence all along. Broadcast just once in late 1990, The Best of... What's left of... Not only... featured footage dating back as far as 1965 and included some of the best comedy ever screened on BBC (two, that is). Peter Cook and Dudley Moore first met each other in 1959, while performing in a Cambride Footlights Show. Moore got a BBC special, on which Pete first appeared as Streeb-Greebling, and Pete & Dud made their debut. This in turn led to them to share a series of their own: Not only... (Dudley Moore)... But also (Peter Cook)...
in 1990 Peter and Dudley briefly reunited for a 2.5 minute introduction to the first episode, dressed in their old caps as 'Pete & Dud'. Cook was aged 52 but looked at least ten years older, while Moore at 54 looked about the same amount in reverse. What is more, the taller of the two clearly had no intention of letting his more famous, richer counterpart get a word in edge-ways. The exchange between the two of them was more unsettling to look at than laugh worthy then, and still is now. Luckilly, what followed were 6 Sunday nights full of ground breaking black and white (for the most part) classic comedy that anyone appreciating a good laugh should have access to.
Although the famous 'One legged Tarzan' sketch was missing in action, all the other favorites were present: the inventive opening sequences, The Leaping Nuns of Norwich and Superthunderstingcar (probably the first and certainly the most original spoof of Gerry Anderson's various Supermarionation shows) and of course, the 'Goodnight' song. Each episode featured Pete and Dud musing about something over a beer or a sandwich, as well as a performance by the Dudley Moore Trio. Occasionally, musical guests such as Cilla Black and Goldie & the Gingerbreads appeared, while John Lennon popped up to plug his poetry. Some of the material was actually quite surreal, especially the poetic interludes (with or without Lennon). But then, we are talking about the mid sixties to early seventies here.
By the fourth episode some color skits start to show up in between the black and white stuff, including the fabulous "This is Tom Jones" spoof (This is Ludwig van Beethoven) and a documentary on the life of 'Bardo'. Funny though they are, both stars appear tired and slightly disgruntled in the color footage and when seen next to the earlier stuff, it becomes clear that Pete and Dud's best work was in black and white. While Cook has rightly been hailed a genius in recent times, having written some of the wittiest word-play ever conceived, the contribution of 'cuddly Dudley' must not be overlooked. He may have always got the less developed parts, but Moore had one of those instantly likable faced that could have you in stitches with just one look. Further more, he showed off his own kind of brilliance at the piano, especially in the hilarious 'Bo Dudley' skit and when playing a classical version of 'Delilah' in the previously mentioned Beethoven sketch.
The BBC edited this series down to 100 minutes for a compilation video also called The Best of.. What's left of... etc, which included an extra skit not broadcast in the series: "The Glidd of Glood" (another one of their poetic performances, in color). They probably refrained from broadcasting that one on a Sunday night on account of a jester pretending to be God in it (not even on BBC 2). And with that, Pete & Dud went back into the comedy archives, never to appear again. Such a crime. Now that both of them are long gone, it would be nice for the next generation to get acquainted with what's left over, somewhere deep down in the British Broadcasting Corporation's vault.
9 out of 10