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Not Only But Always (2004)

This affectionate documentary examines the turbulent partnership of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, the double act that re-defined the comedy genre. It follows their beginnings in London's ... See full summary »


Terry Johnson


Terry Johnson

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2 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Rhys Ifans ... Peter Cook
Aidan McArdle ... Dudley Moore
Jodie Rimmer ... Wendy Snowden
Camilla Power ... Judy Huxtable
Daphne Cheung Daphne Cheung ... Lin Chong
Jonathan Aris ... Jonathan Miller
Louise Wallace Louise Wallace ... Sparkly Top Woman
Alan Cox ... Alan Bennett
Josephine Davison ... Eleanor Bron
Richard Durden ... Proctor
Robin Soans ... Mr. Boylett
Charmaine Guest ... Violin Girl
Brett O'Gorman Brett O'Gorman ... David Frost
Joanna Morrison ... Dawn
Derek Payne Derek Payne ... Audience Member


This affectionate documentary examines the turbulent partnership of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, the double act that re-defined the comedy genre. It follows their beginnings in London's West End through their rise to stardom which won them accolades but forced a wedge between them. Written by Anonymous

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Biography | Drama


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Release Date:

30 December 2004 (UK) See more »

Filming Locations:

Auckland, New Zealand

Company Credits

Production Co:

Company Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs


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Did You Know?


Many who knew the real Peter Cook and Dudley Moore objected to the way their long partnership was depicted in this heavily-fictionalized TV movie. Alan Bennett pointed out with considerable acerbity that Dudley Moore, far from being victimized by his university peers because of his working-class origins, was, in fact, enormously envied by them, partly because he was already a success in show business whilst still an undergraduate, and more especially because of his phenomenally active sex-life. See more »


The front sleeve design of the first Derek and Clive album, "Derek and Clive Live", was rendered in scribbled handwriting, not type-written as this film portrays it. See more »


Dudley Moore: You have a generous heart.
Peter Cook: I do have a generous heart. I have a very generous heart. I recently caught it trying to give my liver to a wino.
See more »


References 10 (1979) See more »

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User Reviews

Eery, Compelling, Sad, Lingering.
31 December 2004 | by atconsulSee all my reviews

If you're middle-aged like me, Pete and Dud were always there, from the new dawn of 1963 when Cook almost single-handedly turned Supermac into Silly Old Mac, and we felt meritocratic Britain had arrived, to the cynical exploitative desperation of Derek and Clive 1976, after Python had run its course, and alternative vision looked just as wonky as all the other optical aberrations.

In between, Stars were real talents that burnt brightly and radiated electromagnetic energy. Miller was Renaissance man, Bennett the new literato, Cook debunker-in-chief and Frost the entrepreneur of a new Britain in a way that oddly pre-parodies New Labour as if Cook had written the ending. And Dud was Pete's mate.

As for America, who knows why Beyond the Fringe worked there: we learn nothing from this piece.

In fact we learn nothing much to form the setting I describe, which I think is what makes this film eery and sad, a portrait of a fading person rather than his timeless talent. Like all such men, Cook's contribution to the canon of British culture is more than the sordid banality of his flawed life, except in the realisation that such works have always demanded the time and pressure at the typewriter that breaks all but the most powerful personal bonds. Or that to be this much of a funny djinn maybe you do have to be vapid on the inside. Above all, I think the production should have followed Cook's own monochrome observation and started at the end. Sad lives that end chronologically in bathos, as most do, do not mean sad work. Vapid? Yes, Dud, I am a man who reads his reviews with the Thesaurus beside me. But I only fleetingly reveal my lack of relationship with my parents even to you.

I can't decide whether it's a flaw of the film. Surely you have to have been there to feel what it means? And surely that doesn't include the magnificent Ifans and McArdle, which makes our surrogate comics' contribution all the more stunning: they hadn't left the nursery long before Bo Derek gave Dud back the ego Pete had wrung from him. But I do wonder if "...but Always" in itself makes Cook accessible to a new generation, and perhaps that's a shame: it would have been easy enough to sew in two or three complete sketches so that we can gauge for ourselves how it works, after all the *writing* at least stands timeless, even if the performances and the man are gone.

As it is, we just had repeated, diminishing echos of MacMillan and the one-legged man, echos that mean something only to those who were there for big bang. Whilst this can make good art it also loses most of the potential audience and is therefore by definition elitist.

Speaking of elitist, Peter Cook was clearly as haughty and arrogant as any, but the Cook portrayed here is a snob of the worst kind to boot, and sneers at Moore and Bennett for being mere Grammar School boys, or is any ammunition acceptable? Well, lack of legs is, so perhaps none of it is as alternative as we might imagine. The Private Eye of Ingrams, Rushton and buddies, into which Cook fitted so deliciously, was only too willing to admit that, satirists or not, the new generation Establishment was merely reinventing itself, irreverent but irrevolute, and irrelevant if wildly entertaining.

Overall, this one could just run. Just because it tantalises, presents an image for the curious, leaves unanswered questions about the man's work for a new generation, portrays a dazzling spectacle of a person nearly in view, perhaps it will invite new interest in his writing and performance. Or perhaps there's nothing there but the ghost of a time long gone, by a savage critic also gone.

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