Pete, Dud and Peter Sellers - a rediscovered comedy classic!
Rediscovered - in America, I believe - since the BBC issued its various TV, VHS and DVD version of 'The Best Of... What's Left Of... Not Only... But Also...' in 1990, this classic 1965 episode is essential viewing for the Pete and Dud fan who thinks they've seen everything. Currently it's only available to view on YouTube, with a 'BBC Motion Gallery' watermark across the centre of the screen and a very hissy unrestored audio track, but it's still a must-see.
As a complete show, this provides a welcome jazz interlude from the Dudley Moore Trio, 'I Love You Samantha' (a number they also recorded and released on LP for Decca in 1966 as the first track of 'Genuine Dud'). But the real treats, of course, are the three main comedy sketches - two with Peter Sellers and a "lost" Pete and Dud dialogue.
The Sellers sketches are both laid-back affairs, and that's their charm. Sellers, by now a major international movie star as a result of his recent roles in 'The Pink Panther' and 'Dr Strangelove' and looking in fine fettle after his eight heart attacks (!) earlier the previous year, just wants to lark about on British telly, and that's clearly exactly what Pete and Dud have invited him onto the show to do.
The better rehearsed and better written sketch is probably the first. Sellers is a boxer-turned-painter, Cook the ubiquitous interviewer, while Moore gives good giggle value as Sellers' attentive trainer. Sellers unsurprisingly has a lot of trouble keeping a straight face, not least when Dud tries to hide behind him in a desperate effort to conceal his laughter.
Nearly as good - and actually I think may prefer it for its looseness and zaniness - is a bonkers skit called 'The Gourmets', in which Cook interviews Moore and Sellers as a pair of unlikely restaurant critics. Sellers is clearly enamoured of Moore's turn in this, and though he seems to have been crowbarred into an existing Pete-n-Dud two-hander he looks more than happy to be there.
The Pete and Dud 'Dagenham Dialogue' in between is a dark and unusual exploration of the occult, just a little closer to their 1970s Derek and Clive personas than most of their other 1960s dialogues. It has some good lines but, sadly, no Dud breaking up into giggles to lift it from the ordinary. Still, there is no Dagenham Dialogue one can't be happy to see recovered, and Cook's business with the teapot at the start of the sketch - necessary to cover Moore's costume change after the end of the jazz number - is very funny indeed.
One day, this episode will undoubtedly make it to a proper release - maybe a BBC iPlayer collection, or (please!) a compilation of Sellers' guest turns in this, 'Sykes' and other shows - but my advice is don't wait, visit YouTube and watch it today.
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