Wednesday, 19 June 2013

TV Comedian Eric Sykes

Recently I have been enjoying the re-runs of the BBC TV sitcom Sykes from the 1970s which have been airing on Satellite/Cable channel UKTV Gold.

The TV shows, written and starring comedy legend Eric Sykes, ably assisted by another greatly loved comedy actress Hattie Jacques (who regularly appeared on TV with the Lancastrian), ran from 1972 until 1979, clocking up seven full series and a Christmas special in their wake.

Much of the show was based on previous similar TV comedies for the comic, indeed many of the episodes were colour remakes of previous black and white shows made in the sixties.

The show revolved around the antics of unmarried twins Eric and Hattie (Hat) who lived together in the London suburb of East Acton. Eric's character is somewhat childish and often manages to get himself into varying degrees of trouble. Meanwhile Hattie is the calming influence, trying her utmost to keep Sykes on the straight and narrow.

Other well known actors to regularly grace the programme included the likes of Deryck Guyler, Richard Wattis and Joan Simms, most of which had been associated with the TV comedian for many years.

The show finally came to the end of its run in 1979, although the BBC were fully intending to continue on with it. The untimely death of co-star Hattie Jacques from heart failure in 1980 bringing a premature conclusion.

I must admit to never thinking a great deal of the programme when it was aired in the 70s, but with maybe a more mature outlook, it is abundantly clear what a genius Sykes was, with an immaculate comedic delivery and his writing of varied content.

With a performing career spanning in excess of 50 years, Sykes is remembered for becoming profoundly deaf as an adult. The spectacles that he wore contained no lenses, they were used as a bone conducting hearing aid and as he got older he was also registered as blind and suffered a stroke and heart problems.

Eric died in July 2012 at the age 89 after a short illness, surrounded by his family.

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