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Classic TV Revisited: Not Only Peter Cook…… But Also Dudley Moore



Written by Peter Cook and Dudley Moore

What was it all about?
A classic Sixties sketch show combining the remarkable talents of diminutive Dudley Moore and the tall acerbic Peter Cook.

When was it on?
There were three seven-part series on BBC2 — in 1965, 1966 and 1970 — plus a 1966 Christmas special.

Who wrote it?
Dudley Moore estimates that Peter Cook contributed 70 per cent of the material and he provided the other 30. So their input was roughly in proportion to their height.

How did it come about?
In 1964 the BBC asked Dudley Moore to do a one-off special and he invited Peter Cook, his partner from the hit revue ‘Beyond The Fringe’, to appear. Cook’s mournful character E.L. Wisty was already familiar to viewers of ‘On The Braden Beat’. Cook wrote two sketches — one about Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling whose life’s work consisted of teaching ravens to fly underwater, the other about two scruffy philosophisers in cloth caps, scarves and raincoats. He called these two Dud and Pete. The BBC were so impressed that they commissioned a full series to be called Not Only…But Also, meaning Not Only Peter Cook But Also Dudley Moore, or vice-versa.

Any guest stars?
John Lennon, a friend of Cook’s, made a cameo appearance in the 1966 Christmas special as the commissionaire of a gents’ lavatory. Resplendent in uniform and top hat, Lennon filmed the sketch outside the men’s toilet in Broadwick Street, Soho.

Peter Sellers also asked to appear on the show and made two appearances in the first series, once as a boxer, the other time as a critic. Other guests included Cilla Black, Henry Cooper, Eric Sykes and Dusty Springfield.

The third series featured a rhyming contest called ‘Poets Cornered’ where Cook, Moore and a guest (they included Spike Milligan, Frank Muir and Barry Humphries) had to ad-lib a poem without hesitation. If they failed, they were dumped in a pool of gunge. Who said ‘Tiswas’ was ground breaking?

Which was their most famous sketch?
Probably the tale of Mr. Spiggott (played by Moore) who auditioned to play Tarzan despite the not inconsiderable handicap of having only one leg. Theatrical producer Cook tries to point out why Spiggott might not be suitable for Tarzan. ‘Your right leg I like. I like your right leg. A lovely leg for the role. I’ve nothing against your right leg. The trouble is neither have you.’

What about the Dagenham Dialogues?
These were the celebrated exchanges between Dud and Pete (Moore was born in Dagenham) which would take place in a pub, at an art gallery or at the zoo.There they would discuss the meaning of life, often over their sandwiches.

At the zoo, they pondered the merits of being a humming bird, able to kiss at great distances thanks to its long, coiled-up tongue. ‘That means that you could stand on the Chiswick flyover and kiss someone up the Staines by-pass.’

Dud and Pete lived a fantasy existence in which they were plagued by Hollywood sex symbols. The pair recounted how they had coldly despatched Greta Garbo, Rita Hayworth and Jane Russell from their bedrooms, ordering them never to return. ‘Tap, tap, tap at the bloody window pane. I looked out– you know who it was? Bloody Greta Garbo.’ And: ‘That Rita Hayworth was all over me, but I wasn’t having any!’

At the art gallery, Pete explained to Dud how bottoms follow you around the room.

Cook and Moore wrote these sketches simply by deciding on a subject, switching on a tape recorder and then talking to each other as Dud and Pete would. When it came to doing the actual show, Cook would often improvise brilliantly, leaving Moore on the verge of hysterics. Moore would stuff his mouth full of sandwiches in an attempt to regain his composure.

Was there much censorship?
The BBC tried to regulate the number of times words like ‘bum’ and ‘tit’ were used in the show. Cook loved to get away with things such as the bottle of wine he called Chat All Over the Carpet.

Didn’t the show have distinctive opening and closing sequences?
Cook and Moore began each show at the piano with the camera pulling back to reveal them in all manner of unlikely settings – underwater, at a car wash or on board an aircraft carrier. For one sequence they managed to get Tower Bridge opened so they could hang a ‘Not Only…But Also’ banner from it. Each show ended with their theme song ‘Goodbye-ee’ which reached number 18 in the charts in 1965. In the same year Peter Cook enjoyed solo success with ‘The Ballad of Spotty Muldoon’ as in ‘Spotty Muldoon, Spotty Muldoon, he has spots all over his face’. Bob Dylan, he wasn’t.

Who watched it?
The show’s mix of satire, innovative sketches and jazz music from the Dudley Moore Trio helped establish the identity of BBC2. The off-beat humour made Cook and Moore the darlings of the student set. Older viewers raised on domestic comedies like ‘Joan And Leslie’ or ‘The Dickie Henderson Show’probably found it hard to fathom.

Any spin-offs?
There were two Australian ‘Not Only…But Also’ shows in 1971 and the pair acted together in a number of feature films, including ‘The Wrong Box’, ‘Bedazzled’, and ‘Monte Carlo Or Bust’. In the 1970s they also joined forces for the notorious ‘Derek and Clive’ albums but eventually went their separate ways – Moore to Hollywood stardom and Cook to the Coach and Horses.



Kick-Ass TV Heroines: Xena – Warrior Princess




Xena Warrior Princess

What was not to love about Xena? As Lucy Lawless says: “Xena is a bad-ass, kick-ass, pre-Mycenaean girl.” Evildoers, clearly, must stand down, but not only bad guys (and girls) have Xena-phobia. Even heroes quake when she swings her broadsword.

Originally created as a syndicated complement to Kevin Sorbo’s Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena pretty much kicked Herc to the curb. It was like when the Bionic Woman made us lose interest in the Six Million Dollar Man–only more so.

Unlike Lindsay Wagner’s early half-woman, half-machine, Xena wasn’t prone to frailty. Nor did she need robot parts. In fact, the Warrior Princess never lost. If she’s down, it’s not for long.

Plus, she was in touch with the dark side: This big-boned bruiser had definite moments of blood lust, as well as lust of some other varieties. Garbed in a leather miniskirt and armed with her trademark razor-edged, boomerang-action chakram, we watched Xena single-leggedly kick down entire platoons of Roman soldiers.

Sure, there were murmurings about Xena and her softer female sidekick, Gabrielle (actress Renée O’Connor). So what if they liked to conserve bathwater by doubling up? And what’s wrong with close friends frenching once in a while?

Then again, maybe it was true–and there’s anything wrong with that.

Actress: Lucy Lawless
Show: Xena: Warrior Princess
Character: Xena

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Classic TV Revisited: McMillan And Wife




McMillan And Wife

Starring Rock Hudson and Susan Saint James, McMillan and Wife was a super cute crime-solving saga from the 1970s made for the NBC’s Mystery Movie series.

Who were they?
Hubby was the debonair San Francisco police commissioner Stewart McMillan.

And wifey?
Sally was a foxy, rather scatterbrained dame with a knack for finding corpses.

Worked down the morgue did she?
Hardly. Sally’s finds were usually in some glitzy mansion which the couple were frequenting for a weekend cocktail party. She also had a habit of getting her life threatened or being kidnapped.

Who was in it?
Tragic Hollywood star Rock Hudson no less. He took on Stewart McMillan in his first TV role, after years as a matinee idol with movies such as Giant.

Fans of the lantern-jawed star were dismayed when he went public about having Aids. He had long kept his homosexuality secret. He carried on working in ’80s glam drama Dynasty, but make-up could not disguise the deterioration of this once-statuesque man. He died in 1985, aged 59.

What about Sally?
That role fell to raven-locked Susan Saint James. The Ali MacGraw lookalike was previously in shows such as Alias Smith And Jones and The Name of the Game.

Other characters
A vital ingredient to McMillan And Wife was sharp-tongued housekeeper Mildred, played by Nancy Walker. Somebody needed to keep the place tidy while they gallivanted about solving crime.

Famous guest stars?
Kim Basinger

The couple’s conception?
Like Hart To Hart, the idea was borrowed from Dashiell Hammett’s Thin Man books of the ’30s.

Gritty crime drama?
Hardly. These were cosy whodunnit cases, where the brutality of murder was never portrayed. The show was more about the interplay between McMillan and Sally.

Had viewers arrested?
Certainly in the US. It was the fifth highest-rated show in 1972 and 1973.

Fate of the golden couple?
Susan Saint James quit in 1976 over a contractual dispute. Nancy Walker also packed away her duster as housekeeper Mildred.

The dame’s exit was a fatal blow?
Certainly for the character of Sally – she was killed off in a plane crash. But Rock soldiered on with new assistant Sgt Steve DiMaggio (Richard Gilliland). The show became McMillan.

A winner?
Audiences dwindled and the plug was pulled.

Distinguishing features?
Cosy pillow talk, cocktail parties, Rock Hudson, pyjamas and numerous corpses.

Do say
Let’s go to bed. Turn the light out, darling.

Don’t say
Must you eat toast in bed, darling. Apologies, but I’ve got terrible flatulence. Separate bedrooms.

Not to be confused with
My Wife Next Door, Harold Macmillan, The Merry Wives Of Windsor and Mr And Mrs.

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Classic TV Revisited: The Royal




The Royal

The Royal was an ITV drama commission and was inspired by its sister programme Heartbeat.

The lowdown: This nostalgic family drama is set in the swinging 1960s and centres on the staff of a cottage hospital in Yorkshire. Newly qualified doctor David Cheriton (Julian Ovenden) is determined to make a difference to the world and arrives at St Aidan’s Royal Free Hospital in Elinsby full of big ideas. But he clashes with the hospital’s secretary TJ Middleditch (Ian Carmichael) who is determined to run things his way. Then there is the Matron (Wendy Craig) who rules her nurses with a rod of iron and tries in vain to stop them being distracted by the handsome arrival.

Memorable moments: Watch out for former Heartbeat favourite Bill Maynard who crosses dramas and continents as Claude Jeremiah Greengrass. Greengrass has returned from a Caribbean holiday with a mystery illness but that doesn’t stop him trying to earn a fast buck. It doesn’t take long before Claude attracts Matron’s ire.

Trivia: The Royal is a family affair for real life husband and wife Robert Daws (Ormerod) and Amy Robbins (Weatherill). No fewer than seven members of their clan have appeared in the series including their daughters and stepson.

Michelle Hardwick, who played receptionist Lizzie, says her favourite moment in the whole series didn’t come on screen but in the actors’ green room. She says: “I was sitting in there with Wendy Craig and Honor Blackman and we were having a lovely conversation. I sat back and thought ‘Wow, this is great, I can’t wait to tell my gran’.”

A modern day set version called The Royal Today aired 7 January – 14 March 2008.

First broadcast: 2003

Starred: Wendy Craig, Ian Carmichael, Michael Starke, Robert Daws and Julian Ovenden

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