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The revue was widely considered to be ahead of its time, both in its unapologetic willingness to debunk figures of authority, and by virtue of its inherently surrealistic comedic vein.Humiliation of authority was something only previously delved into in The Goon Show and, arguably, Hancock's Half Hour, with such parliamentarians as Sir Winston Churchill and Harold Macmillan coming under special scrutiny — although the BBC were predisposed to frown upon it.John Bassett, a graduate of Wadham College, Oxford, who was Ponsonby's assistant, recommended Dudley Moore, his jazz bandmate and a rising cabaret talent.Moore in turn recommended Alan Bennett, who had had a hit at Edinburgh a few years before.' at a sketch he found distasteful, before apparently sitting down again and enjoying the remainder of the show, while another, at the first performance in Edinburgh allegedly stood up and declared that the 'young bounders don't know the first thing about it! In response to these negative audience reactions, the Beyond the Fringe team insisted that they were not ridiculing the efforts of those involved in the war, but were challenging the subsequent media portrayal of them.Many see Beyond the Fringe as the forerunner to British television programmes That Was the Week That Was, At Last the 1948 Show and Monty Python's Flying Circus.The retrospective show Before the Fringe, broadcast during the early years of BBC 2, took its title from this production. Subsequently, opening on October 8, 1964, the National Touring Company took it on a nationwide tour for six months as Beyond the Fringe '65 under the auspices of Alexander H.
There were also a number of musical items in the show, using Dudley Moore's music, most famously an arrangement of the Colonel Bogey March which resists Moore's repeated attempts to bring it to an end. Without it, there might not have been either That Was the Week That Was or Private Eye, the satirical magazine which originated at the same time, that partially survived due to financial support from Peter Cook, and that served as the model for the later American Spy Magazine.
The majority of the sketches were by Cook and were largely based on material written for other revues.
Among the entirely new material were "The End of the World", "TVPM" and "The Great Train Robbery".
In 1962 the show transferred to the John Golden Theatre in New York, with its original cast. Kennedy attended a performance on 10 February 1963.
The show continued in New York, with most of the original cast, until 1964, when Paxton Whitehead replaced Miller, while the London version continued with a different cast until 1966.In 2006, Jonathan Miller recounted that the breach of decorum this represented was a source of embarrassment to both audience and performers.