Peter Cook was still a student at Cambridge University when he first wrote sketches for the legendary comic actor Kenneth Williams. His earliest contributions were included in the “intimate review” Pieces of Eight starring Williams and Fenella Fiedling that had a long and successful West End run. Cook wrote more than half the show and premiered some classic sketches including “Gnomes and Gardens” and “Not An Asp” an early outing for his famous E. L. Wisty character.
The success of the show led Cook to be commissioned to write a brand new revue for Williams this time called One Over the Eight. Among the sketches Cook submitted were some he had written as teenager, including “One Leg Too Few” the classic one-legged man (Mr. Spiggot) auditioning for the role of Tarzan and “Interesting Facts” a more rounded appearance of E. L Wisty. Cook would later reuse both sketches in other shows and films over the years.
Cook also wrote a sketch called “Hands Up Your Sticks” which Williams later released (together with “Not An Asp”) on an EP single. It’s a great Cook sketch that plays around with language and class attitudes and there is certainly the essence of the routine Woody Allen developed a decade later in the bank hold-up with a “gub” in Take the Money and Run. The voice of the bank clerk is played by popular Sixties entertainer Lance Percival (one of the principal voice actors in Yellow Submarine as “Young/Old” Fred) and the new animation is by Mark Hindle.