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Peter Cook: A Biography

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Good: A copy that has been read, but remains in clean condition. All pages are intact, and the cover is intact (including dust cover, if applicable). The spine may show signs of wear. Pages can include limited notes and highlighting, and the copy can include "From the library of" labels.Some of our books may have slightly worn corners, and minor creases to the covers. Plea Good: A copy that has been read, but remains in clean condition. All pages are intact, and the cover is intact (including dust cover, if applicable). The spine may show signs of wear. Pages can include limited notes and highlighting, and the copy can include "From the library of" labels.Some of our books may have slightly worn corners, and minor creases to the covers. Please note the cover may sometimes be different to the one shown.


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Good: A copy that has been read, but remains in clean condition. All pages are intact, and the cover is intact (including dust cover, if applicable). The spine may show signs of wear. Pages can include limited notes and highlighting, and the copy can include "From the library of" labels.Some of our books may have slightly worn corners, and minor creases to the covers. Plea Good: A copy that has been read, but remains in clean condition. All pages are intact, and the cover is intact (including dust cover, if applicable). The spine may show signs of wear. Pages can include limited notes and highlighting, and the copy can include "From the library of" labels.Some of our books may have slightly worn corners, and minor creases to the covers. Please note the cover may sometimes be different to the one shown.

30 review for Peter Cook: A Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Darren Richman

    I very rarely write reviews on here but felt like I had to in this instance. Peter Cook was my hero as a teenager. I devoured his work and ended up writing my university dissertation on why his sketches should be considered part of the literary canon. I loved him in the way a teenager loves anything - uncritically and obsessively. I have owned this book for at almost 20 years and read large sections when writing the aforementioned dissertation. Despite all this, I have never got round to reading t I very rarely write reviews on here but felt like I had to in this instance. Peter Cook was my hero as a teenager. I devoured his work and ended up writing my university dissertation on why his sketches should be considered part of the literary canon. I loved him in the way a teenager loves anything - uncritically and obsessively. I have owned this book for at almost 20 years and read large sections when writing the aforementioned dissertation. Despite all this, I have never got round to reading the thing from beginning to end. Perhaps I was so sure I'd enjoy it that it was simply a case of delaying certain gratification or perhaps it's just because I think about Cook less as the years go by. I wrote a piece for The Telegraph to mark the 20th anniversary of his death in 2015 that was shared by his friend Eric Idle online but still didn't feel like reading the full story as set out by Harry Thompson, a brilliant writer whose work also means a great deal to me. During my last restaurant lunch before lockdown, I met up with a fellow Cook devotee. This book means more to him than any other and he implored me to finally take the plunge. My wife is pregnant and we've been filling the anxious days with the familiar and comforting. Bob Dylan, Stephen King, The Strokes, Curb Your Enthusiasm, film noirs, Celebrity Big Brother episodes from 2006 - all of these have helped me cope with these uncertain times. And now Peter Cook: A Biography by Harry Thompson. This book is not without its issues. Some of those involved, not least Cook's third wife, believed Thompson played fast and loose with the truth and, personally, I was surprised by how critical the author was about much of the work (The Great Train Robbery sketch, Derek and Clive, A Life in Pieces and, especially, Why Bother with Chris Morris, deserve more credit). There's the odd inaccuracy I clocked and the occasional strange omission (his appearance on Whose Line is It Anyway surely warrants at least a mention and The Princess Bride perhaps more than a solitary line in a 500 page book). Despite all that, this is a masterpiece and almost certainly the finest biography I've read. Thompson, the man behind Monkey Dust and a gifted comedy writer in his own right, gets to the heart of what made Cook so funny, something that can't be said of many of the depictions on stage and screen since PC's death 25 years ago. This was a perfect companion piece to The Lost Weekend, which I watched for the first time this week. It's a sad book about a funny man and a funny book about a sad man, an alcoholic who was too old to die young and too young to die old. It's compulsively readable and gripping from the off and gets to the heart of who Cook was, irrespective of the rows that erupted in the wake of its publication. Peter Cook died in 1995. Harry Thompson died a decade later. But for a few weeks in 2020, during the most stressful of times, they took me back to my teenage years and for that I'll be forever grateful.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    A comic genius if there ever was one. I had no idea he was so ground-breaking and that the Goons and Python owe so much to him. All I knew of him was few later sketches he did with Dudley Moore that were so outrageously offensive, racist, sexist and mysoginistic that... Well, put it this way: I'd never heard anything like them. It was a sad read too. He was a lonely, flawed man who seemed only good at two things: drinking and making people laugh. A comic genius if there ever was one. I had no idea he was so ground-breaking and that the Goons and Python owe so much to him. All I knew of him was few later sketches he did with Dudley Moore that were so outrageously offensive, racist, sexist and mysoginistic that... Well, put it this way: I'd never heard anything like them. It was a sad read too. He was a lonely, flawed man who seemed only good at two things: drinking and making people laugh.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lindz

    Some people are really good at one thing, and one thing only. Peter Cook's biography is a testimony to that. Admittedly Peter Cook's one thing of genius proportion. The way Cook had the ability to zone in on a characteristic, and bring to the boil a sense of ludicrous was pure alchemical talent. You can see this affect through out British Comedy, Monty Python, The Goodies, Harry Enfield, Fry and Laurie, Smith and Jones, even I would go as far to say Mitchell and Webb. Discovering Beyond the Frin Some people are really good at one thing, and one thing only. Peter Cook's biography is a testimony to that. Admittedly Peter Cook's one thing of genius proportion. The way Cook had the ability to zone in on a characteristic, and bring to the boil a sense of ludicrous was pure alchemical talent. You can see this affect through out British Comedy, Monty Python, The Goodies, Harry Enfield, Fry and Laurie, Smith and Jones, even I would go as far to say Mitchell and Webb. Discovering Beyond the Fringe and Pete and Dud were revelations for me, for the thing I have always loved about British Comedy was the sense of the ludicrous, the daily rage at daily mediocrity. I grew up on a steady diet of Fools and Horses, Smith and Jones, Black Adder, French and Saunders, It an't half hot mum, Faulty Towers, Monty Python, Reeves and Mortimer , and the list could go on. Many of these heros of mine. Yes Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers set the ball rolling, but Peter Cook with Dudley more by his side honed it completely. Yes I know I am being a huge fan girl, but these guys are my pop stars, what all these guys can do with language and expression blows my mind every time. So yes I enjoyed this biography yes, I wallowed in it, read the first half very slowly, pouring of transcripts of his skits. 'We shall receive four minute warning of any nuclear attach. Some people have said 'Oh my goodness me - four minutes - that is not a very long time!' Well, I would remind those doubters that some people in this great country of ours can run a mile in four minutes." ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Peter Cook: Up here on the mountain we shall be safe. Safe as houses. Alan Bennett: And what will happen to the houses? Peter Cook: Well, naturally, the houses will be swept away. The second half I gorged on. Reading Peter's slow down fall was like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Peter needed a foil, a straight man, and who better than Dudley Moore. Unfortunately Peter did not seem to grasp that his talent did not reach over into other areas such as acting, chat show host, or side kick. Which only fuelled his alcoholism and depressions. But once you read this biography, go on YouTube and watch some of the old sketches, you will not be disappointed.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia L'Hirondelle

    A must read for anyone interested in british comedy. Fascinating cultural history told via the sad happy sad life of Peter Cook. Read more on this review: http://342isalie.blogspot.ca/2011/10/... A must read for anyone interested in british comedy. Fascinating cultural history told via the sad happy sad life of Peter Cook. Read more on this review: http://342isalie.blogspot.ca/2011/10/...

  5. 5 out of 5

    MJ Nicholls

    I can look at myself in the mirror in the morning, and say, "There is a man". I can look at myself in the mirror in the morning, and say, "There is a man".

  6. 4 out of 5

    Chris Purser

    Peter cook god father of modern comedy the comedian's comedian and truly one of the funniest men to ever draw breath. This sympathetic book details his life from early childhood to later years in obscurity and money troubles. His partnership with dudley moore and the eventual dissolution of the partnership as dudley became an unlikely Hollywood star in the 80s and peter continually failed to find the right format for his biting wit. People have often said cook failed to live up to his potential they ma Peter cook god father of modern comedy the comedian's comedian and truly one of the funniest men to ever draw breath. This sympathetic book details his life from early childhood to later years in obscurity and money troubles. His partnership with dudley moore and the eventual dissolution of the partnership as dudley became an unlikely Hollywood star in the 80s and peter continually failed to find the right format for his biting wit. People have often said cook failed to live up to his potential they maybe right as people who reach there potential can never be anything more cook was always getting better at his craft right up until his death god bless him even if he did save david frost's life

  7. 5 out of 5

    Dennis Rutzou

    This book is really much too long and in that respect it was disappointing. It is also a rather sad story as it tells of the self-destruction of a talented human being who rewrote the book of comedy. It has been said that a comic genius like Peter Cook has to have a personality disorder in the first place to be successful and he certainly seems to have had oodles of that quality. Addiction to drugs and alcoholic came as part of the price of his stunning early success and that proved to be his ev This book is really much too long and in that respect it was disappointing. It is also a rather sad story as it tells of the self-destruction of a talented human being who rewrote the book of comedy. It has been said that a comic genius like Peter Cook has to have a personality disorder in the first place to be successful and he certainly seems to have had oodles of that quality. Addiction to drugs and alcoholic came as part of the price of his stunning early success and that proved to be his eventual downfall, yet he had many who believed in him to the end even those who hung around to share in the eventual spoils of the estate. This is not one that I'd recommend but is certainly is thought provoking.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mark Love

    Tragically Peter Cook never got round to writing his autobiography, like so much in his life that seemed unfulfilled. And yet it was a life lived to the full, by tragic genius comic figure who became his own comic persona, not really "known" by many. I thought I knew the story well - privileged yet lonely childhood, destined for the foreign office like his father, public school brutality, footlights and 60s stardom followed by a succession of lacklustre projects that only occasionally enabled him Tragically Peter Cook never got round to writing his autobiography, like so much in his life that seemed unfulfilled. And yet it was a life lived to the full, by tragic genius comic figure who became his own comic persona, not really "known" by many. I thought I knew the story well - privileged yet lonely childhood, destined for the foreign office like his father, public school brutality, footlights and 60s stardom followed by a succession of lacklustre projects that only occasionally enabled him the freedom to display the humour he found so natural in everyday life. In later life became the perfect chat show guest, at which he was far more successful than during a brief stint many years earlier as a host. But his private life, and his inner life and demons were revealed to me for the first time in this excellent book by Harry Thompson (a Have I got New For You producer who himself dies tragically young). If you're a Peter Cook fan then you need to read this book. If you're not, then you should be.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lydia

    Excellent bio, well detailed & sympathetic. I laughed constantly, not just at the skits but at the hilarious ancedotes (Peter outwitting the Soho gangsters who were pestering him for protection money, hiring a guy with the same name as a "Beyond The Fringe" detractor to give glowing reviews, ect) throughout the earlier years, and enjoyed hearing the stories behind Peter & Dudley's work throughout my favorite era of theirs, the "Not Only But Also" shows and one of my fave movies, "Bedazzled". It Excellent bio, well detailed & sympathetic. I laughed constantly, not just at the skits but at the hilarious ancedotes (Peter outwitting the Soho gangsters who were pestering him for protection money, hiring a guy with the same name as a "Beyond The Fringe" detractor to give glowing reviews, ect) throughout the earlier years, and enjoyed hearing the stories behind Peter & Dudley's work throughout my favorite era of theirs, the "Not Only But Also" shows and one of my fave movies, "Bedazzled". It only gets 4 stars and not 5 because of the sadness of the last half, from the mid-70s on- the loss of the two people he loved most with his divorce from Judy Huxtable and his breakup with Dudley, and his realization that his fame would never get any higher, after doing a few failed film/television projects, caused him to give up and semi-retire. He was a flawed man, but this book paints him in an understanding fashion, and fully convinced me of what I had already suspected- Peter Cook was a true genius.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    This book convinced me that Peter Cook was the most original post- Milligan comic geniuses in Britain: Monty Python owed so much to his anarchic sense of the ridiculousness. He was especially brilliant at exposing those who think they have power over others, and he really was the spirit behing Private Eye. Thompson's is a very detailed and thorough-going biography. Its hilarious and tragic by turns: Peter Cook's need to escape boredom blessed us with some astonishingly witty sketches many of whi This book convinced me that Peter Cook was the most original post- Milligan comic geniuses in Britain: Monty Python owed so much to his anarchic sense of the ridiculousness. He was especially brilliant at exposing those who think they have power over others, and he really was the spirit behing Private Eye. Thompson's is a very detailed and thorough-going biography. Its hilarious and tragic by turns: Peter Cook's need to escape boredom blessed us with some astonishingly witty sketches many of which are detailed in the book. Highly recommended.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alex Pearl

    Harry Thompson knew Peter Cook as a friend, and this biography is certainly warts and all. A host of side-splitting anecdotes accompany some truly painful and difficult to read episodes. The complexity of this comic genius really comes across in this brilliant and beautifully penned book. One of the finest biographies I've ever read, and I've read a fair few. Tragically, Harry Thompson died very suddenly in his forties from lung cancer, despite the fact that he'd never smoked. A must-read for an Harry Thompson knew Peter Cook as a friend, and this biography is certainly warts and all. A host of side-splitting anecdotes accompany some truly painful and difficult to read episodes. The complexity of this comic genius really comes across in this brilliant and beautifully penned book. One of the finest biographies I've ever read, and I've read a fair few. Tragically, Harry Thompson died very suddenly in his forties from lung cancer, despite the fact that he'd never smoked. A must-read for anyone who loves Peter Cook or for that matter, beautifully written biographies.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ben Baker

    After finishing John Nathan Turner's biography I said to myself "pick something light next, something with a happy ending". So why I went into this fascinating but thematically very similar book is beyond me. Indeed the two could be packaged together in the "Promising Career Ruined By Pride And Vodka" section of WH Smith. Doubly so when you realise that author Harry Thompson has himself been no longer with us for approaching eight years. Now for a Mr Men book... After finishing John Nathan Turner's biography I said to myself "pick something light next, something with a happy ending". So why I went into this fascinating but thematically very similar book is beyond me. Indeed the two could be packaged together in the "Promising Career Ruined By Pride And Vodka" section of WH Smith. Doubly so when you realise that author Harry Thompson has himself been no longer with us for approaching eight years. Now for a Mr Men book...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Brendan

    The opposite of Born Standing Up, Steve Martin's down-to-earth approach to success. The opposite of Born Standing Up, Steve Martin's down-to-earth approach to success.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Becky Walker

    Probably the best biography of Peter Cook out there. Some aspects have been disputed by those who knew him, but largely minor. A good read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rupert Rawnsley

    A reasonable biography of a fascinating and flawed man.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Philip Mcdonald

  17. 4 out of 5

    Meera

  18. 4 out of 5

    Irem Wheelhouse

  19. 4 out of 5

    Leonardo Donofrio

  20. 4 out of 5

    MRS S T K DUNBAVAND

  21. 4 out of 5

    banana

  22. 4 out of 5

    Richard Olney

  23. 5 out of 5

    John Brackenridge

  24. 5 out of 5

    Steven

  25. 4 out of 5

    Paul Merron

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mel

  27. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lyn

  29. 5 out of 5

    Rob Griffiths

  30. 4 out of 5

    Bluecatblues

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