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Eric Sykes
"I'm proud of being a vaudevillian, the last of my line. A lot of people think my entertainment is candy-floss. Well, entertainment is too aggressive these days, all in your face!" - Eric Sykes

One of the most respected of all British comedians, born in Oldham on 4th May 1923, Eric Sykes was one of many comedians to get smitten by the entertainment bug whilst serving in the Army, during the Second World War.

When he was demobbed from the Army he tried his hand at comedy without much success, but got a major breakthrough when he was asked to write scripts for Bill Fraser (a pal from his time in the Forces). He was soon in demand writing for Fraser and Frankie Howard and both Radio and Television. During the mid-50’s he co-scripted, with Spike Milligan, 24 Goon Shows and was particularly successful with his writing for the popular Educating Archie.

   

His writing eventually helped him to kick-start a career performing on stage and TV, mainly in variety-comedy shows, where he often played the part of a harassed producer struggling to put on a show.

Shrugging aside a serious hearing handicap (which eventually resulted in total deafness), he hit the big time in 1960 when he starred alongside Hattie Jacques in a TV sitcom 'Sykes and a….', written by himself and Johnny Speight (of Alf Garnett fame). The instant rapport that Eric and Hattie formed, as brother and sister, was the basis for one of Britain's best loved comedy series partnerships and one that endured for two decades and 128 episodes, until it came to a close when Hattie died in 1980.

Eric Sykes
   

One of the episodes from the series Sykes and a Plank was later re-made for cinema in 1967, co-starring Tommy Cooper, and again as a TV special in 1979. Over the years, Eric created other memorable TV specials including Rhubarb Rhubarb! in 1980, another re-make of a cinema release.

He has made numerous Film appearances including the following:
Watch Your Stern, 1960; Invasion Quartet, 1962; Kill or Cure, 1962; Heaven's Above (with Peter Sellars) 1963; One Way Pendulum, 1965; Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (with Jack Lemmon & Tony Curtis), 1965; Rotten to the Core, 1965; The Liquidator, 1966; The Spy with the Cold Nose, 1966; The Plank, 1967; Shalako, 1968; Monte Carlo or Bust, 1969; Rhubarb, 1970; The Alf Garnett Saga, 1972; Theatre of Blood, 1973; Boys in Blue (with Cannon & Ball) 1982; Splitting Heirs 1993 and The Others (with Nicole Kidman) 2001.

Interestingly, it is Eric who says the word "Teletubbies!" at the end of the Teletubbies title sequence.

   

Eric Sykes with his famous spectacles that contain no glass

His Theatre appearances are cherished by anyone privileged to see them: invariably he steals the scene whether it be in a farce such as Run For Your Wife 2002, the Chekhov drama The Three Sisters 2003, or Shakespeare’s As You Like It 2003.

Just to round things off, Sykes has recently added three novels to his output: 'The UFO's Are Coming Wednesday', 'The Great Crime of Grapplewick' and 'Smelling of Roses'. On the non-fiction front, in October 2003 he released a highly readable, very well-presented tribute to fellow comedians entitled Eric Sykes’ Comedy Heroes.

In short Eric is a remarkable octogenarian, indefatigable, virtually stone-deaf, almost blind – but a colossus and a National Treasure.

 
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Sykes - the first colour series on DVD
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Eric Sykes of Sebastopol Terrace - the new book
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