Peter Cook is to be the subject of a new BBC documentary.
The comedy giant, who died in 1995, will be celebrated in a TV special being produced by Cook’s friend Victor Lewis-Smith.
The documentary, focusing on previously unseen comedy made by the Not Only But Also star, has the working title Undiscovered Peter Cook.
Lewis-Smith’s production company Associated Rediffusion previously made the award-winning BBC1 documentary Dudley Moore: After The Laughter about Cook’s late comedy partner.
A highly-regarded maverick whose other shows include producing Sky Arts’ interview series In Confidence, Lewis-Smith is a comedian whose 90s TV shows include TV Offal, Inside Victor Lewis Smith and Ads Infinitum as well as hosting his own Radio 1 comedy show.
Lewis-Smith announced the documentary on Twitter, revealing that the documentary followed “months of procrastination” by the BBC.
“We finally agreed terms for the Undiscovered Peter Cook documentary,” said Lewis-Smith. “It’s signed and production starts next week.”
Referring to the BBC’s delays in agreeing to the show, Lewis-Smith added: “It’s like dissecting the sex organs of a fucking flea. Beyond absurd. Peter would have roared with laughter throughout.”
Cook was one of the first wave of modern satirists in Britain, alongside Moore, Alan Bennett and Jonathan Miller in Beyond The Fringe. He went on to star in David Frost’s 60s satire show That Was The Week That Was before Cook and Moore’s classic sketch show Not Only But Also.
Much of Cook’s work from the 60s was lost when the BBC destroyed the tapes in the mid 70s before video recorders made repeat viewings of TV shows a possibility.
Some tapes have now been rediscovered to form the basis of Lewis-Smith’s documentary alongside private recordings of his rehearsals.
Lewis-Smith said: “I was the first person to hear a tape, unopened since the late 60s, of Pete and Dud rehearsing at Pete’s. It’s glorious improv and corpsing. The sketch is about a barrister (PC) his gay resting actor cleaner (DM) and lots of vvv funny and outrageous references to John Gielgud and Jonathan Miller.”
The BBC have yet to confirm a transmission date for the show.
Loaded’s deputy editor John Earls has covered entertainment and sport across a range of national newspapers, plus several football and music magazines, since 1990. Follow him on Twitter at @EarlsJohn