- Comedy »
This is where Peter Cook's Establishment club was based.
Anarchic comedian Peter Cook and Nicholas Luard were co-proprietors of Private Eye magazine and of the Establishment Club which was based here, where they were known as Peter Crook and Nicholas Lewd.
The club was launched in Soho - at 18 Greek Street - in October 1961, and the same month Luard succeeded Andrew Osmond as the 2nd Lord Gnome, as the Eye's proprietor is known, moving the magazine from Neal Street to 22 Greek Street.
The club offered satirical revue on the lines of Beyond the Fringe, in which Cook had triumphed at the Edinburgh Festival the year before, and Dudley Moore was in charge of the music. Subscription was two guineas per annum, and at the club's peak it had 11,338 members, who included Graham Greene, J B Priestley, Trevor Howard and Yehudi Menuhin.
The joke of the club's name was that its ethos was anti-Establishment.
The club gave them the opportunity to present fellow comedians in a nightclub setting, including the controversial American Lenny Bruce. Cook befriended Australian comedian and actor Barry Humphries, who began his British career at the club, and Dudley Moore's acclaimed jazz trio (which included Australian-born drummer Chris Karan) played there regularly for many years during the 1960s.
In 1962, the BBC commissioned a pilot for a television series of satirical sketches based on The Establishment Club.