Page last updated at 17:12 GMT, Sunday, 15 February 2009

Comic Cook honoured with plaque

Jo Goodman, Nicholas Parsons and Barry Cryer
Performers Jo Goodman, Nicholas Parsons and Barry Cryer attended the event

Comedian Peter Cook has been honoured with the unveiling of a plaque at the central London club he opened, kick-starting the 1960s satire boom.

Cook - who died in 1995 - became one of the UK's most influential comics of the last 50 years, through his work with Dudley Moore and in Beyond the Fringe.

The Establishment Club, in Soho, was seen as a symbol of swinging London.

A Westminster Green Plaque was unveiled at the building by the city council and the Heritage Foundation.

Peter Cook
Peter Cook was ranked by fellow comics as their favourite comedian
The foundation was set up to pay tribute to key figures in the entertainment world, while raising funds for good causes.

'Amazing place'

Speaking at the unveiling, his first wife Wendy Cook said: "When we met as students at Cambridge this was in his heart and in his mind - a political, satirical nightclub - this is what he wanted to do as an undergraduate.

"When it opened everybody wanted to be there, it was an amazing place."

Among the stars at the event on Sunday was comedian Barry Cryer.

"He was brilliant, he was a one-off, he was an amazing man," Cryer said.

"He was relentlessly funny, it was amazing, it wore you out. In the end the booze got hold of him and that was very sad. He had a lot more to offer and we lost him too early."

His friend would have been very "rude and insulting" about the plaque, he added.

Comedian Barry Cryer talks about Peter Cook

Broadcaster and quiz show host Nicholas Parsons said Cook's talent was unique.

"He was exceptional, there's no doubt about it," he said.

"Like a lot of very highly talented people he was always so charming and courteous. I always found him most delightful and engaging, and he had the most amazing mind."

'Comedian's comedian'

The Establishment Club in Greek Street - now a bar - helped revive the career or Frankie Howerd, as well as introduce Barry Humphries' character Dame Edna Everage to British audiences.

Cook also stepped in to help satirical magazine Private Eye in 1962, investing his own money and securing support from his showbusiness friends.

For a time, it was even produced from the club premises.

Current editor Ian Hislop said: "Finally, Peter joins the establishment and goes from being off-the-wall to being on it."

In 2005, Cook was ranked top in a "comedian's comedian" poll, voted for by comics and comedy writers.

The Heritage Foundation's David Graham said the idea for the plaque came from a fan.

"We don't appreciate people until we lose them and that's a very British trait," he said.

"I remember when Peter died the next day the papers were full of what a great genius he was but why weren't they saying that when he was alive?"



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SEE ALSO
Cook voted 'comedians' comedian'
02 Jan 05 |  Entertainment
The comic genius of Cook and Moore
29 Dec 04 |  Entertainment
Comedian Dudley Moore dies
27 Mar 02 |  Entertainment

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