Peter Cook's biased judge sketch and its background

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Commenting on the recent Jeremy-Thorpe-Norman-Scott-trial Peter Cook wrote a sketch during the time of the annual Secret Policeman's Ball 1979 (entertainment performances in aid of Amnesty International).

The judge conducting the court procedure did not receive a favourable portrayal.


Published on


May 17, 2007




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Comments 46
GreenerHill Year ago
Peter Cook appeared on the point of breaking into laughter in this sketch. And why not? The shooting of Rinka (the Great Dane) is the only sad part of the story (the downfall of Peter Bessel a close second).
mike .D
mike .D Year ago
we need a new crop of these type of creative anti establishment comedians
Ian Watt
Ian Watt Year ago
The Independent newspaper was founded in 1986. The Thorpe trial was in 1979.
attymarco Year ago
Judge Cocklecarrot (or was it Cocklecantley?) at his finest. Peter Cook was a genius.
kareszt Year ago
Pricks. Oboe Predates Clarinet
Edward Curuvija Penrose
We are waiting for the series in the US. Sad part was that my father actually was the one that broke the story with Roger Courtier on the Pencourt file book and got zero recognition in the "A very English Scandal". As a child I remember every detail as it transpired. I was followed and had to watched going to school and our home phone was obviously tapped, you could hear odd sounds. My father is sadly in very poor health and recognition would have been a nice touch as the two journalists threw their careers away to bring this story out.
Ric Euteneuer
Ric Euteneuer Year ago
It is indeed very sad that they were not recognised, and "A Very English Scandal" makes absolutely no reference to them whatsoever. You're not related to the late Slavko Curuvija, are you ?
Martin Johnson
Sorry JC but first edition of Independent was 1986
Taunter Atwill
And NOTHING has changed in English courts. 50% of judges are still completely arbitrary in their desicion making and don't give a damn about the facts when these facts don't suit them!
Michael Holmes
I was a huge fan of Peter Cook
lala lulu
lala lulu Year ago
Maybe Scott was just a lying mental nut case who Thorpe tried to help whom then Scott leached off him via blackmail .
phoebephoebo .sydney
3:56 "The sketch was such a hit it was immediately published in Private Eye". Slightly less surprising once you remember that Cook was one of Private Eye's proprietors.
Neil Hoskins
Neil Hoskins Year ago
Libel case? It was a trial for conspiracy to murder. Terrible fact checking.
zondaintheair 2 years ago
David Cameron reminds me of Jeremy Thorpe , it could be the hairstyle.
Widmerpool99 2 years ago
It wasn't a libel suit. Thorpe was on trial for conspiracy and incitement to murder.
Dark Judge
Dark Judge 2 years ago
Wasn't libel idiot, was a criminal trial. How on earth did this doco come out both saying he sued for libel and then was found not guilty?
morphyesque 2 years ago
Saw " a very English scandal" tonight 3/6/18 on BBC1 with my wife in which Peter Cook, playing a judge, was included in the last instalment which had me laughing like drain when the judge said " ladies & gentlemen you will now retire ( like I should) and consider your verdict of not guilty!".I am 72 & she is 70 so we both remember this trial in 1979.
B flat? On the Pink Oboe?
Rbc Osborne
Rbc Osborne Year ago
morphyesque Bb
JB Price
JB Price 2 years ago
The commentary says that the judge advised the jury to return a verdict of not guilty. That is not correct. His biased summing-up made it clear where he stood but he did not instruct the jury to do anything - that is not allowed. In fact the jury considered their verdict for 52 hours which shows they took the case seriously notwithstanding the judge's comments. Also, for those critical of 'the establishment', it should be remembered that it was they that put Thorpe on the dock in the first place; the DPP could have kicked the case out due to lack of direct evidence and the suspect nature of the witnesses. Instead they went for Thorpe and did their best to nail him.
JB Price
JB Price 2 years ago
My understanding is that they could only introduce those witnesses if it was part of JT's defense that he was not gay - that is why Carmen admitted he had 'homosexual tendencies'.
Isleofskye 2 years ago
In the drama George Carmen told JT that the prosecution had a whole host of Men lined up to give evidence against JT though that was just to show his homosexuality.
JB Price
JB Price 2 years ago
The entire prosecution case was the evidence of Scott, Bessell and Newton. Once Carmen had demonstrated that all three had a record of telling lies, he was almost home and dry, biased judge or not.
Isleofskye 2 years ago
Just watched all 3 parts of this case in the excellent " A Very English Scandal" on BBC1 and the Judge was so biased talking about the spineless,hysterical Scott etc that it was outrageous and then to ask for a UNANIMOUS verdict knowing The Jury were differing among themselves over 52 hours meant there was no way they were going to reach "Unaminity" and he knew thtat would mean a No Guilty verdict.
JB Price
JB Price 2 years ago
I wasn't writing about Cook as such, I was writing about the commentary on it which was purporting to be factual.
Johnny 2 years ago
The current Jeremy Thorpe drama is brilliant
KT Kee
KT Kee 2 years ago
Aw, the lovely Terry Jones.
KT Kee
KT Kee 2 years ago
Blimey, Cleese's memory is bad, the Independent didn't exist in the 70s.
peter morningsnow
Love it. Keep up the good work.
TheDativeCase 2 years ago
I was at school when this happened and I remember discussing it with my friends. Young people then were interested in politics. The whole country followed the progress of the story in the papers and on TV and were horrified by the totally biased summing up by the judge and the subsequent not guilty verdict.It proved how corrupt the Establishment really was. And is.
mizofan Year ago
like the way the inquest into Diana's death was handled in the Royal Court of Justice.
Ria Kongos
Ria Kongos Year ago
AlbieBDS 3 years ago
Does anyone know what this documentary is called?!
MadAndyBeckman 5 years ago
Right at the beginning he refers to the papers that took any notice of him at all citing the Guardian and the Independent. That was in 1979. The Independent was launched in 1986!
pix046 5 years ago
@MadAndyBeckman A faux pas. Blame Manuel.
anonUK 5 years ago
Stephen Fry sitting there like the font of all knowledge on what went on politically in 1979. That's rubbish- at this time, he was a student at Cambridge. Someone like Cleese or Jones, though, is a more useful witness of the times.
Harvey Smith
Harvey Smith Year ago
I think you have missed the point. Stephen is a homsexual so knows more about predudice, closet politicians, closet Judges and the establishments cover ups.
Andy Paterson
Andy Paterson Year ago
anonUK Ha ha. Lots of people who were alive at the time of an event know little or nothing. Someone who reads or studies can know more. Glad to help.
egparis18 2 years ago
He was remarkably precocious and had learned to read before he even got to Cambridge.
Widmerpool99 2 years ago
That's right, because Cambridge students know nothing of politics or homosexuality.
KT Kee
KT Kee 2 years ago
Whereas you are clearly too stupid to appreciate Peter Cook's comedy at the age of 53 or whatever you are.
Jonathan Lloyd
Jonathan Lloyd 7 years ago
nah man, not benny hill.
crumbum2 7 years ago
This guy is the greatest comedian of Britain??? Cmon! I'm surprised they didn't pick Benny Hill, he was just as unfunny. Any of the Pythons were funnier than this guy
Nathan Zimmerman
anonUK 2 years ago
crumbum2 Google "Peter Cook" and marvel.
danlefou 7 years ago
The Goon Show featured an episode called "The Spy - Who is Pink Oboe?" in January 1959. It is slightly surprising that Peter Cook and the Pythons hadn't encountered this splendid euphemism before 1979.
SSCFPA 7 years ago
Prime Minister Harold Wilson had seen a M15 file in 1969, about Thorpe and boys who worked in stables in his Devon constituency, after Thorpe became the leader of the Liberal Party. 5 years later, after the Feb '74 election and hung Parliament, PM Ted Heath approached the Liberals to try and create a Tory/Lib coalition. With only a small number of MP's and no chance of the Tories agreeing to reforms of the voting system from the Libs it didn't happen, But had it, Wilson had a secret weapon....
KT Kee
KT Kee 2 years ago
DerekTheHoly 7 years ago
Or chicken-strangling either ......
chubbylilloser 7 years ago
I love when i hear people say a man is GAY because he enjoys receiving anal play with a woman... I love to point out to them Gay people also receive blow jobs...so going by their logic any one who gets a blow job MUST be gay even if its coming from a woman..
peter morningsnow
Nobody wants to touch the loser, especially the ill one. I've touched you. Now stand up, walk, and be healed, you fairy.
QueexQ 7 years ago
That's not what I said. I said 'murder is not perversion', not 'murder cannot also be perversion'. The comment I was replying to implied that murder was a form of perversion - which is not true.
QueexQ 7 years ago
So why are you replying to thread arguing over whether homosexuality and murder are both perversions?
QueexQ 7 years ago
Some crimes involve perversions. Many do not. Not all perversions are crimes, but some are. As homosexuality is neither a crime nor a perversion, this line of reasoning isn't very illustrative.
earthalydelights 7 years ago
Oh ferfuxake. Did you get lost on your way to a Westboro Baptist Church Sunday service or what?
earthalydelights 7 years ago
The man was a pure genius.
QueexQ 7 years ago
Homosexuality is not a perversion. Neither is murder. Murder is a crime. I think you are very confused.
Colin Dale
Colin Dale 7 years ago
take all sorts to make a world ? but who gives a f--- their but for the grace of god ? etc and all that. Peter Cook was a self pub list ? Pissed most of the time. Good education etc ? but no better than the rest of us. Was it Eton or Harrer. F------ class system in this country gets on my tits. Are you telling me that Jeremy the Thorpe was not part of the Establishment ? colindaleradiosutch
peter morningsnow
I rather liked how they said that Peter Cooke's brilliant comedy sketch went on to be fully published in print in the Private Eye, as proof the sketch was powerful. The man owned the paper.
Friendshipismagic 8 years ago
known pillow biter
Colin Dale
Colin Dale 8 years ago
GREAT. Peter gets it right. Spot On. Still plenty of old Fart Judges in Britain today, looking after the Establishment !!! colindaleradiosutch
bigrider2806 8 years ago
pure genius
sail1948 8 years ago
Scott of the Arseantics.
Gary Twitchett
Gary Twitchett 2 years ago
sail1948 😂😂😂👍👍👍
QueexQ 8 years ago
@DumblyBrilliant I would have thought that only 'poofs and [straight or bi] women' (sic) would suck at dick at all, regardless of where it's been. That's kind of the point.
QueexQ 9 years ago
@leoseries No. There's a lot more to gay sex than buggery. Come to that, buggery isn't exactly confined to homosexuals either...
Reticence9 Year ago
Most gays aren't into anal. [Source: Stephen Fry's 'Out There' documentary]
feketepuss 12 years ago
January 1995 from acute liver failure caused by long term alcohol abuse.
peter morningsnow
It is hard to look up, when it takes into itself, the act, the looking past the false precepts of false judges.
weirdloopyloo 12 years ago
where is this from? looks like a documentary
feketepuss 12 years ago
This is a trifle misleading: the introduction claims Cook's sketch is a comment on a libel case. It was not: Jeremy Thorpe was on trial for attempted murder, along with three co-defendants.
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