Peter Cook was born at the property then known as Shearbridge (now known as Kinbrae) in Torquay on 17th November 1934. He was the son of a colonial civil servant and his schooling appeared to be a preparation for him to follow in his father's footsteps. His schooling was at the prestigious Radley College and he later went to Cambridge where he studied French and German. It was while at Cambridge that he became involved with the Cambridge Footlights; he later went on to be its president in 1960.

While still at university, Cook began to write sketches for Kenneth Williams in the reviews in which he was appearing in the West End. Shortly afterwards he formed a four man satirical stage group with Jonathan Miller, Alan Bennett and Dudley Moore. In the days of deference to the establishment, this hard hitting review known at Beyond the Fringe shocked audiences who saw it.

In 1961, Cook opened The Establishment Club in Soho in London. This was to be a venue for a variety of satirical performers and was where several careers were launched including that of Barry Humphries who went on to find fame with his alter ego Dame Edna Everidge.

In 1962 Cook began his television career and before long the satirical show That was The Week That Was had become required viewing for many. It launched the career of David Frost and made him a star. This caused a little resentment on the part of Cook as he believed Frost had stolen his stage persona.

Throughout the sixties and seventies Cook's career flourished although even then his increasing addiction to drink and drugs was impairing his ability to perform at times and making him increasingly erratic. His attempts to break into movies proved unsuccessful but his comedy partnership with Dudley Moore continued to be a great success.

In the late seventies and eighties there were still flashes of brilliance from Peter Cook but his appearances became much less frequent. By the 1990's he was making only rare appearances on chat shows or making what amounted to cameo performances in TV programmes.

Peter Cook died in 1995 at the age of 57. He helped create satire for the modern world and was the direct inspiration for many current performers.

 

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