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Peter’s friends made the 60s swing

Features | By Elisabeth Luard | November issue

Peter Cook would have been 80 this month. Elisabeth Luard has discovered lost photos of Cook in 1961, when she worked alongside him at  The Establishment, Britain’s first satire club

For just two years in the early Sixties – mid-1961 until the end of 1963 – The Establishment Club in Soho was the hottest ticket in town. For those of us who worked there, it was the beating heart of the universe. What a thrill it was to find this cache of unpublished photos from the Establishment’s archive – particularly on the eve of what would have been Peter Cook’s 80th birthday, on 17th November. Before 19 Greek Street became London’s first (and last) satirical theatre-club, it was the Club Tropicana, a strip joint with rooms. The advantage to the proprietors, Peter Cook and Nicholas Luard, was the disreputableness of the area, the space – two long, thin rooms with a warren of smaller ones behind – and the proximity to Theatreland and the politicians in Westminster. Sean Kenny, designer of the minimalist set for Beyond the Fringe, was recruited...

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