Tag Archives: peter cook

RIP Sir Ludovic Kennedy

The BBC reports:

The author, broadcaster and campaigner Sir Ludovic Kennedy has died aged 89. A former BBC Panorama journalist, Sir Ludovic spent decades investigating miscarriages of justice, including the case of the Birmingham Six. He contributed to the abolition of the death penalty and was also president of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society.

Nick Clegg has joined in the tributes to Sir Ludovic, a member of the Liberal party and later the Lib Dems, for most of his life:

Ludovic Kennedy was one of the great thinkers of his generation. His pursuit of justice and his championing of sometimes unpopular and controversial causes marked him out as a true liberal. He will be greatly missed.”

Sir Ludovic was the Liberal candidate and runner-up in the 1958 Rochdale by-election, propelling the party to its highest vote in the constituency since the 1920s, with the Tories pushed from first to third place. It was the first UK election to feature televised debates between the candidates, with Granada also broadcasting the count – another first.

He quit the Lib Dems in 2001 in protest at Charles Kennedy’s refusal to countenance legalised euthanasia, even standing as an independent candidate for the cause in Devizes, Wiltshire, polling just over 1,000 votes. He later re-joined the party.

During the 1980s and ’90s, Sir Ludovic gained fame among a new generation (such as myself) through his appearances as himself in the superior BBC comedy programme, Yes, Minister, as well as his interviews with Peter Cook, playing Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling, for A Life in Pieces. Here’s the first programme from that fantastic series, first broadcast in December 1990:

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YouTube ‘cos we want to: comedy special

Welcome to the weekend edition of our new LDV feature rounding up some of the best/worst/most curious political videos doing the rounds. Or, as with this week, a trio of three politically-related comedy clips.

First up, let’s start with a classic: Peter Cook’s famous satiric ‘biased judge’ interpretation of the Jeremy Thorpe trial as performed at Amnesty’s Secret Policeman’s Ball. You don’t have to know the full background to the trial to enjoy the performance. (Though it does help, and if you want to know more, read this book).

Next up, it’s Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie enjoying the ‘Young Tory of the Year’ show – some things never change:

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YouTube ‘cos we want to: Jeremy, David and Paddy

Another instalment in our occasional series rounding up political videos doing the rounds – for this special Friday night edition, we’re delving back a little further into the archives to recall three of the great Liberal leaders of the past few decades.

First up, here’s the only clip I can find of Jeremy Thorpe, being questioned by a studio audience alongside Jimmy Saville (how times change):

By the way, if you’ve never seen Peter Cook’s magisterial ‘biased judge’ summing up from 1979 at the conclusion of the Thorpe trial, click here and enjoy 12 minutes of the finest satirical comedy ever staged.

Second’s up is David Steel, here represented by the famous excerpt from his leadership speech in 1981 – yes, that’s right, the “go back to your constituencies and prepare for government” one:

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