By Jeremy Miles
IT is more than 10 years since Peter Cook's untimely death from alcoholism, but his fame lives on in biographies, documentaries and even a TV docudrama.
Now a new play by Nick Awde and Chris Bartlett traces his partnership with Dudley Moore, their years of fame together and the tensions that finally tore them apart.
But perhaps most intriguingly, Pete and Dud Come Again, which opened at Lighthouse in Poole last night, looks at the partnership from the point of view of Dudley Moore.
It makes the point that though Cook was a star before he teamed up with Moore, and Moore became an even bigger star after they went their separate ways, they were funniest together.
Simon Lowe, who plays Dud to Gareth Tunley's Pete, says: "Most people seem to think that Dudley was just the joker, the peurile one and Peter was the erudite one, whereas they were both equally reliant on each other. They had to be for the comedy to work."
Too young to remember Pete and Dud in their heyday, Lowe says he was astonished to discover just how famous the pair had been.
"Like most people I suppose I knew more about Peter Cook although of course I knew Derek and Clive very well and Dudley Moore's Hollywood career.
"But Beyond the Fringe and the early Sixties satire was complete new to me.
"I found it absolutely fascinating. I had no idea just how big they were - the never-ending world tour, playing for the President of the United States. They were like rock stars.
"It really put a handle on why they are held in such great affection."
Ironically, affection was what Dudley Moore - the working class boy from Dagenham - was searching for from an early age.
Despite his prodigious talent as both a comedian and musician, he clearly felt inferior to the public school educated Cook.
"I think he felt that Cook was a lot cleverer and more quick-witted than he was.
"In fact that was completely untrue. Certainly Cook saw something in Dudley early on.
"He enjoyed his company and he was one of the few people who Peter found really funny."
Sadly, the relationship could not be sustained. While Dud in his desperate quest to prove himself found money, fame and a complete lack of fulfillment in Hollywood, Pete slowly drank himself into an early grave.