Shakespearean drama was another target of their comedy.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.
In 2006, Jonathan Miller recounted that the breach of decorum this represented was a source of embarrassment to both audience and performers.
The show is credited with giving many other performers the courage to be satirical and more improvisational in their manner, and broke the conventions of not lampooning the Royal Family or the government of the day.
' 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 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".
Although all of the cast contributed material, the most often quoted pieces were those by Cook, many of which had appeared before in his Cambridge Footlights revues.
The show broke new ground with Peter Cook's impression of then Prime Minister Harold Macmillan; on one occasion, this was performed with Macmillan in the audience, and Cook added an ad lib ridiculing Macmillan for turning up to watch.
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.