News Fortune was at his best in the Long Johns' sketches that poked fun at authority

John Fortune was the comedian and satirist best known for his work on the long-running television comedy series Bremner, Bird and Fortune, together with fellow comics Rory Bremner and John Bird, that ran for 16 series from 1999 to 2010.

Arts: The pen is mightier than the needle

Edward St Aubyn's novels are the only therapy he needs. So what's this about New Age cures? By Clare Garner

Passed/failed: JULIAN PETTIFER

Julian Pettifer, 62, is a television and radio reporter whose work has ranged from the Vietnam war to the environment. His TV documentaries include `Diamonds in the Sky', `Automania' and `Missionaries'; `El Nino is Innocent' will be transmitted later this year. His Radio 4 series `Crossing Continents' goes out on Thursday mornings. He has been Bafta reporter of the year and has also received awards from Unicef and the Royal Geographical Society.

WHEN ARCHITECTURE WENT POP

Archigram were the Velvet Underground of building design - ultra- groovy Sixties rebels whose influence greatly outlasted their short life. As a long-overdue retrospective opens in Manchester, Charles Darwent talks to the original prophets of pod living

COMEDY: Arjy bargy

Arj Barker is a funnyman with plenty of punchlines as well as a nice line in self-deprecation. And, because he's a foreigner, he can get away with saying things about the British that a native would be excoriated for. As a matter of fact, we love him for it

Media: Cheers, Auntie! We knew you'd look after us ...

The story of how classic Peter Cook and `Doctor Who' tapes were wiped in the Seventies has passed into BBC legend. It couldn't happen again ... could it? The problem is that old recordings don't make money and the archive service must balance its books. Something has to go: 95 jobs for starters. By Paul McCann

TECHNOFILE 4

N"The culture-heroes of our liberal bourgeois civilisation are anti-liberal and anti-bourgeois; they are writers who are repetitive, obsessive, and impolite, who impress by force - not simply by their tone of personal authority and by their intellectual ardour, but by the sense of acute personal and intellectual extremity."

Sema defends rail inquiry line

Sema, the Anglo-French computer services company which supplies all the UK's train timetable and train fare information, yesterday hit out at a report in the consumer magazine Which? claiming that rail passengers telephoning the National Rail Inquiry Service were given inaccurate information on 41 out of 70 occasions.

Books: Biography - Brief lives

Peter Cook: A Biography by Harry Thompson, Hodder pounds 18.99. "I want you to lay down your life, Perkins. We need a futile gesture at this stage. It will raise the whole tone of the war." This unforgettable moment from Beyond the Fringe appears in Thompson's lively and penetrating biography of the late lamented Peter Cook - one of the saddest of all sad clowns - to illustrate how much of Cook's humour was autobiographical. He came from a long line of colonial servants who neglected their children in the service of their sovereign, and, like Kipling, felt you should "bind your sons to exile / To serve your captives' need." This particular son, however, escaped with his emotional life in tatters but his talent intact: by the time he was 28 he had reached the zenith of his profession as comedian and satirist, but failed marriages and soured professional partnerships (notably, with Dudley Moore) led to disillusion and alcoholism. In detailing the bumpy path of this brilliant, compulsive, desperately insecure near- genius, Thompson's narrative is fresh with the intimate testimony of friends, ex-colleagues and family (right: Cook with his daughters Daisy and Lucy).

Book review / Laugh? He really died

Peter Cook: a biography by Harry Thompson, Hodder & Stoughton, pounds 18.99

Letter: Loss of TV archive programmes

Sir: Comedy producer Harry Thompson describes as "cultural vandalism" the loss of episodes from the Sixties Peter Cook and Dudley Moore series Not Only ... But Also (report, 21 August).

People: BBC erased classic Cook and Moore archives in favour of local news

Almost all of the classic Not Only ... But Also series by Peter Cook and Dudley Moore has been wiped by the BBC to make space in its archives for local news programmes it was revealed yesterday.

Invitation to let enemies on board leaves `Eye' unmoved

In a tale fitting for its own Street of Shame column, Lin Cook, widow of Peter Cook, says that she is going to sell the 40 per cent share of Private Eye magazine she inherited from her husband because people on the magazine have not been nice to her.

Happy Clappy Tony gets a `Private Eye' pulpit

`We didn't have to spend any time at all thinking this one up'

Funny ha-ha

THEATRE Then Again... Lyric, Hammersmith

John Walsh meets... The Long Johns

Last Friday, two men in suits walked onto the stage of the Hexagon theatre in Reading, and proceeded to tell the audience some news from their own backyard: that, unknown to most of Reading's citizens, one of its two hospitals, the Royal Berkshire, was about to be shut down. That, as an early warning of what was in store, the hospital had closed down its Accident & Emergency Unit on two occasions in the last two weeks (and if you rang the NHS's press office for confirmation, you'd hear them say, "Yes we did close down the A and E ward - but we didn't tell anyone," as if that made it more acceptable). And in place of the Royal Berkshire, the audience heard, plans are now afoot to build a huge public-service complex that will feature two multi-storey car parks, an office block, a restaurant, a shopping mall and a health farm, but nothing of any actual medical use at all...
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