Not Only... But Also (partially found BBC sketch comedy show; 1965-1966; 1970)

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Cover art of the compilation The Best of What's Left of Not Only...But Also.

Status: Partially Found

Not Only... But Also is a BBC sketch comedy show. Written by and starring Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, it originally ran from 1965-1966, with a third series airing in 1970. Many of the show's episodes were subject to the BBC's wiping policy, despite Cook's attempts to preserve them.


Not Only... But Also was conceptualised initially as a show exclusively starring Dudley Moore, called Not Only Dudley Moore, But Also His Guests.[1][2][3] However, a successful pilot featuring Peter Cook led to the creation of Not Only Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, But Also Their Guests, the full title of Not Only... But Also.[1][2]

The first series consisted of seven 45-minute episodes, all broadcast in 1965.[4] A second series in 1966 ran for another seven 30-minute episodes.[4] A 50-minute Christmas special was broadcast on 26th December 1966.[5] After Cook and Moore departed to ITV in 1968,[3] the show was revived in colour in 1970, with a third series of seven 45-minute episodes.[4] Finally, two 30-minute specials would be recorded for Australian television in 1971, the BBC airing these as Peter Cook and Dudley Moore in Australia.[4][3]

Attempts at preservation

Perhaps the most infamous aspect of Not Only... But Also lost media is that the full show so nearly survived completely intact.[1] It is one of the most high-profile victims of the BBC's tape-wiping policy, which mandated that recordings of programs deemed less historically or commercially important be wiped so that the master tapes could be reused, as a cost-saving measure. This affected many classic programs, most famously Doctor Who.[6][7][1][3]

Prior to wiping that occurred from 1970 to 1974,[8] the BBC informed Cook and Moore that the show's episodes were to be removed from its archives.[1] Cook, desperate to preserve his work, offered to buy the existing prints from the BBC.[1] This was not the only extreme step creators had taken to preserve comedy content; when Terry Jones of Monty Python's Flying Circus was tipped off that it was likewise slated to be entirely wiped, he and the other troupe members managed to smuggle out the series' master tapes and make VHS copies.[9][10]

Not Only... But Also was not so lucky. According to comedy producer Harry Thompson, few within the BBC valued preserving comedy shows, with priority instead going towards the preservation of national and local news items.[8] Ultimately, the BBC rejected Cook's offer, with a senior figure ordering the junking of the episodes.[8][1][3]


Nevertheless, some episodes were preserved, as a series producer had filmed five of the episodes from a TV screen.[8] Along with other surviving footage they were included in a 100-minute compilation entitled The Best of What's Left of Not Only...But Also, released in six parts in late 1990, and later in home media releases.[3][2]

Finds also continue to arise. In November 2010, sound recordings of 13 wiped episodes were discovered.[6] More missing sketches would also be rediscovered in December 2016 in the UK and Australia, ultimately airing as part of the Channel 4 show Peter Cook & Dudley Moore: The Missing Sketches.[11]

The first series was least affected, with episode 5 being mostly missing, and episode 7 completely lost outside of an audio recording.[6][3][7] Series 2 was more affected, with only episodes 1 and 7 remaining in full.[7] Just audio recordings exist of episodes 2-5, with episode 6 missing some sketches.[7][3] The Christmas special is partially lost, with junked segments of "The Fairy Cobbler" and the whole of "Golf Quickie" resulting in four minutes of the 50-minute episode being unaccounted for.[5] Series 3 was the worst affected, as all videotapes of the series were wiped, with only a few bits preserved on 16mm film inserts and audio recordings.[7][2]

Currently, only eight of the 22 episodes produced survive in their completed forms.[7][5][6][1][2][3] Further, a compilation titled The Best of Not Only... But Also was broadcast on 24th December 1974 in colour, but now only exists as a 16mm black-and-white film.[7] Luckily, the Australian specials were unaffected by the BBC's wiping procedures, and were recovered intact.[3]



Episode of The Best of What's Left of Not Only...But Also

The majority of the Christmas special.

A Series 1 episode featuring Peter Sellers.

The art gallery sketch.

Sketch featuring John Lennon.

Sketch parodying Thunderbirds.

The Gourmets sketch.

Mommy's got a brand new bag sketch.

Another sketch featuring John Lennon.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 BBC detailing Not Only... But Also and noting it wiped several episodes despite an offer made by Cook. Retrieved 17 Jul '22
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 British Classic Comedy summarising Not Only... But Also , its conceptualisation, and missing media. Retrieved 17 Jul '22
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 Goodbye Again detailing the extent of lost Not Only... But Also media and its partial recovery. Retrieved 17 Jul '22
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 BFI Screenonline summarising the show and its list of episodes. Retrieved 17 Jul '22
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 BBC Genome Blog detailing the missing minutes of the Christmas special. Retrieved 17 Jul '22
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Comedy reporting on the rediscovered sound recordings of 13 missing episodes. Retrieved 17 Jul '22
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 TV Brain listing the missing episodes and what remains of them. Retrieved 17 Jul '22
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Independent reporting on Harry Thompson's claims on the show being wiped in favour of preserving news, and the revelation some episodes survived via TV screen recordings. Retrieved 17 Jul '22
  9. Vulture detailing how Monty Python's Flying Circus was nearly wiped before copies were purchased and transferred to VHS. Retrieved 17 Jul '22
  10. From the Back Page to the Front Room noting Monty Python's Flying Circus was nearly wiped before copies were purchased and transferred to VHS. Retrieved 17 Jul '22
  11. Comedy reporting on some missing sketches being rediscovered in December 2016. Retrieved 17 Jul '22