Last night on BBC 4 I watched Victor Lewis-Smith's doc on the late great writer, comedian and only twin: Peter Cook. Having gained the trust of Cook's widow Lin, Lewis-Smith was allowed access to boxes of rare recordings, scripts , notes, drawings that had been rotting away in Cook's old home in Perrin's Walk, Hampstead. Lewis-Smith is like Angus Deyton in that he comes across as a man head over heels in love with Monty Python, The Goodies, Not The Nine O'Clock News and the rest and sadly tries too hard to be like his heroes. But although Lewis-Smith's narration and the unnecessary poor man's Terry Gilliam animations that featured heavily both got on my nerves after a while, this doc was full of treats.
Derek and Clive fans will shoot their load over new unearthed clips of Cook revealing he went to the Job Centre only to discover the only vacancy that suited his abilities was that of a shit eater. ("At a pinch, I'll take it... at least it's regular.")
Admirers of Not Only... But Also will be cock a hoop over the discovery of a fantastic sketch of Cook interviewing guest star Peter Sellers as a boxing champion who becomes an artist. Sellers explains that after being knocked down and seeing blood drip from his nose onto the floor he has an epiphany. ("I've been on the canvas ever since. I see this second exhibition of mine as something of a comeback.")
And lovers of blasphemous jokes will feel their cup runneth over when they hear the 1963 recordings of The Dead Sea Tapes which is 5 hours of Pete and Dudley improvising interviews with characters who once met Jesus.
There are also interviews with Lin Cook who reveals Cook drank too much because he felt despair but that he sometimes managed stints of up to 7 months where he abstained from the sauce. And we see some of the love letters and doodles that Peter left for her to find.("When you smile my heart leaps.") We see video footage of Dudley playing piano at Cook's funeral service. We see Cook listening to Stephen Fry read from Billy Bunter whilst on holiday in Egypt. We see Cook and his neighbour play golf using dustbin lids. And we see many other clips which all do the same thing which is remind us how wonderful Peter Cook was.
Despite Peter's many talents there was one thing he couldn't do and that was sing. The unearthed recordings of Cook paying tribute to Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley are both awful but everything else Lewis-Smith uncovers in the doc is pure gold.