Raise a glass also to jazz musician / comedian / actor Dudley Moore who died on March 27th 2002 aged 66 from complications of progressive supranuclear palsy.


Born 19th April 1935 in Dagenham, Essex, a defect at birth meant that his feet were turned inwards. from just two weeks old, a series of operations began with only partial success as his left leg remained two inches shorter than his right. However, he was also born with a natural gift – proficient on both piano and organ and singing in a church choir by the time he was just eight years old. He won a scholarship to the London Guildhall school of Music, studying musical theory and composition. In 1954, at the age of 19, he moved on to a music scholarship at Oxford, playing the organ at the cathedral as well as making a name for himself locally as a jazz musician. After graduation he joined the Vic Lewis Jazz Band, touring both Europe and the United States. as the final months of the fifties fell into the early years of the sixties Dudley was to be seen working with the Johnny Dankworth Band, forming the Dudley Moore Trio, writing music for two plays which ran at London’s Royal Court Theatre and appearing at the Edinburgh arts festival alongside Jonathan Miller, Alan Bennett and Peter Cook. 

“Beyond The Fringe” had proved so successful after a tryout at the Edinburgh festival that it was given a trial run at London’s Fortune Theatre in May 1961. Upon completion of its run, Dudley along with Peter Cook took the show to Broadway. The satirical comedy of “Beyond The Fringe” took a logical step forward when transferred to television with the working title of “Not Only But Also” which first hit the small screen in 1965, followed by a second series in ’66 with a third in 1970. The show’s highlights were, of course, the Pete and Dud sketches, the pair playing proletarian philosophers in cloth caps and dirty raincoats. Their television fame led them to make five feature films, possibly the best known being “Bedazzled” in 1967. 

The pair revived the “Beyond The Fringe” format with a new revue which opened at the Cambridge Theatre in London in 1972 and once again they took the show to Broadway. The Cook and Moore partnership finally split up after their 1977 movie “The Hound Of The Baskervilles” bombed in spectacular fashion. Dudley settled in Los Angeles, appearing in several films including “Foul Play” with Goldie Hawn in 1978, “10” with Bo Derek the following year and, in the humble opinion of the 'Tales From The Woods' editorial board, his greatest triumph “Arthur” in 1980 with the great theatrical legend Sir John Gielgud as his co-star. He went on to make nine more films, sadly, for the most part instantly forgettable. 

Failure on the big screen meant he returned to his first love, jazz, in which failure could not be possible. He also presented a classical music series on British television partnered by Sir George Solti. Married numerous times, he lived a rich, diverse life. His last public appearance was to receive a CBE for services to the entertainment industry at Buckingham Palace in November 2001.