Peter Cook

Last updated on the 25 April 2024 by Maeve

Peter Cook headshot

Mini Biography

Born: 17 November 1937, Torquay, Devon, England. 

Peter Cook was a British comedian who stood at the forefront of the 1960s satire boom. His sharp wit and deadpan delivery helped redefine British humour, leaving a lasting legacy on comedy.

Peter Cook’s early life wasn’t steeped in theatrics, however his education at Pembroke College, Cambridge, proved to be a turning point. There he immersed himself in the vibrant Cambridge Footlights Club, a breeding ground for comedic talent. Cook’s natural wit and talent for writing shone through and he eventually became the club’s president.

Cambridge not only nurtured Cook’s comedic talents but also led him to forge a lifelong partnership. It was there he met Dudley Moore, a fellow student with a flair for music and physical comedy. Together, along with Alan Bennett and Jonathan Miller, they created the groundbreaking satirical revue, “Beyond the Fringe.” The show premiered in London’s West End in 1961 and quickly became a sensation. “Beyond the Fringe” tackled everything from British politics to social class, using sharp wit and irreverence to challenge the status quo. The show’s success catapulted Cook and Moore to national fame, establishing them as leading figures in the burgeoning satire movement.

Cook’s film and television appearances further solidified his comedic genius. He displayed his deadpan brilliance in films like “The Wrong Box” (1966) and “Bedazzled” (1967), often alongside Moore. Their television show, “Not Only… But Also” (1965-1970), was a landmark in British comedy. The show’s innovative format featured sketches, parodies and musical numbers, perfectly capturing Cook and Moore’s contrasting comedic styles. Cook’s dry wit and sardonic monologues were a perfect foil to Moore’s manic energy and musical talents.

Peter Cook’s personal life, however, was a tale of two halves. He was known for his charm and wit, yet his struggles with alcoholism and depression cast a long shadow. His marriages were stormy and his relationships with friends and colleagues were often strained. Despite his personal demons, Cook continued to find success on stage and screen throughout the 1970s and 1980s. He co-founded the satirical magazine “Private Eye” and established The Establishment, a London comedy club that provided a platform for up-and-coming comedians.

Peter Cook’s legacy extends far beyond his comedic achievements. He was a pioneer of British satire, paving the way for generations of comedians. His ability to blend sharp wit with social commentary helped redefine humour and continues to inspire comedic minds today. Despite his personal struggles, Peter Cook’s comedic genius remains a cornerstone of British comedy history.


BAFTA award


WINNER |  Television: Light Entertainment Performance for Not Only But Also… (1965)



Suggested viewing


Not Only… But Also (1965)

Not Only... But Also poster

Bftv 9.5 / IMDb 8.4

This groundbreaking sketch comedy series broke new ground in the 1960s. Two mismatched friends, one pretentious and the other dim-witted, fuelled surreal and satirical sketches alongside absurd celebrity parodies and philosophical debates, all wrapped in a landmark show that redefined British comedy.

Top cast: Peter Cook, Dudley Moore.


The Secret Policeman’s Ball (1979)

The Secret Policeman's Ball postet

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 6.9

A star-studded benefit concert for Amnesty International features an illustrious lineup. From musical performances to comedy sketches, characters like a wacky inventor and a suspicious judge (all suspiciously similar to one comedian) come together to raise awareness and funds for human rights.

Top cast: Peter Cook, John Cleese, Eleanor Bron, Rowan Atkinson, Billy Connolly, Michael Palin, Chris Beetles, David Rappaport.


The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer (1970)

The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer poster

Bftv 8.0 / IMDb 6.9

A charming young man cons his way into a failing pollster company, quickly taking control and turning it into a political powerhouse. Using public opinion to his advantage, he manipulates the political landscape and climbs the ranks, all while raising questions about power, manipulation and the nature of popularity.

Top cast: Peter Cook, Arthur Lowe, Ann Beach, Ronald Fraser, Desmond Walter-Ellis, John Cleese, Dudley Foster, James Cossins, Valerie Leon, Graham Chapman, Dennis Price, Denholm Elliott, Harold Pinter, Michael Trubshawe.


Peter Cook & Co. (1980)

Peter Cook & Co. poster

Bftv ? / IMDb 7.9

A comedic legend returns with a star-studded TV special sketch show. Joined by Monty Python members and other talents, he brings back classic characters and introduces new ones, all through a rapid-fire series of witty and absurd skits.

Top cast: Peter Cook, John Cleese, Beryl Reid, Rowan Atkinson, Terry Jones, Paula Wilcox, Robert Longden.


Bedazzled (1967)

Bedazzled poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 6.8

A down-on-his-luck fellow in 1960s London makes a Faustian bargain with the devil for seven wishes. The devil, however, takes delight in twisting the wishes in hilarious and disastrous ways, forcing the man to choose between happiness and his soul.

Top cast: Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Eleanor Bron, Raquel Welch, Barry Humphries, Robert Russell, Alba, Michael Bates, Michael Trubshawe.


Clive Anderson Talks Back (1993)

Clive Anderson Talks Back - Peter Cook

Bftv 9.5 / IMDb ?

Clive Anderson interviews an odd collection of guests: a biscuit inventor with an alien abduction story, a football manager from Scunthorpe, a disgraced judge and a rock legend. They all look remarkably similar to the famous comedian, Peter Cook. S8.E10.


Full filmography (@Wikipedia)


 Peter Cook Gallery


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