Eric Sykes

Eric Sykes

Infobox Comedian
name = Eric Sykes

image_size =
caption =
birth_name =
birth_date = birth date and age|1923|05|4|df=yes
birth_place = Oldham, Lancashire, England
medium = television
nationality =
active = 1947-present
spouse = Edith Milbrandt
notable_work = "Sykes", "The Goon Show", "The Plank"
britishcomedyawards = 1992 Lifetime Achievement Award

Eric Sykes, CBE (born 4 May 1923) is an English comedy writer and actor. He is known for his BBC television sitcom with Hattie Jacques and Deryck Guyler, called "Sykes". However, he was also known on radio during the 1950s, behind the scenes and in front of the microphone.



His career in entertainment began in a Special Liaison Unit, when he worked with Flight Lieutenant Bill Fraser. He collaborated with Spike Milligan on a radio special called "Archie in Goonland", a cross between "The Goon Show" and the "radio ventriloquism" show "Educating Archie" starring Peter Brough and his dummy Archie Andrews, which Sykes had been writing. "Archie in Goonland" was not a success; recordings and scripts are not known to have survived. Milligan and Sykes though, collaborated on "Goon Show" scripts, as Milligan was unable to meet the workload, and they shared an office, as colleagues at Associated London Scripts, for years. In 1956-57, Sykes wrote and starred in "The Tony Hancock Show".

One of Sykes' best known creations is his wordless slapstick routine, "The Plank", which began as a sketch, "Sykes and a Plank", in his TV series. It was expanded into a 45-minute film in 1967, "The Plank" (1967), co-starring Sykes, Tommy Cooper, Jimmy Edwards, Roy Castle, Graham Stark, Stratford Johns, Jim Dale, Jimmy Tarbuck, Hattie Jacques and Bill Oddie. A third version was made in 1979, "The Plank" (1979), as a half-hour special, with a cast including Arthur Lowe (taking Cooper's role), Charlie Drake, Charles Hawtrey and Wilfrid Hyde-White. Edwards and Sykes also toured in their theatrical farce "Big Bad Mouse", which while keeping more or less to a script, gave them rein to ad lib and address the audience. On 25 December 1979 Sykes was the subject of Thames Television's "This Is Your Life". Guests included Sean Connery, Spike Milligan, Douglas Bader, and Hattie Jacques. Sykes toured Australia with the play "Run for Your Wife" during (1987-1988). The cast also included Jack Smethurst, David McCallum and Katy Manning.

In the British New Year's Honours List published 31 December 2004, Sykes was awarded an Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to Drama, following a petition by MPs after he was excluded from the Birthday Honours List. In a 2005 poll to find "The Comedian's Comedian", he was voted among the top 50 acts by fellow comedians and comedy insiders. Also in 2005, his autobiography "If I Don't Write It, Nobody Else Will" was published.

Sykes appeared as Mollocks, the servant of Dr Prunesquallor, in the BBC's mini-series adaptation of Mervyn Peake's "Gormenghast". He continues to act on stage and on television - he appeared in the 2007 series of "Last of the Summer Wine". Also in 2007, he had a small role in an episode of the sitcom "My Family".

Personal life

Sykes was educated at Ward Street Central School in Oldham. He joined the Royal Air Force during World War II and qualified as a wireless operator with the rank of Leading Aircraftman. Sykes became partially deaf as an adult. His spectacles contain no lenses but are a bone-conducting hearing aid. Disciform macular degeneration, brought about by age and possibly smoking has left Sykes partially-sighted, and he is registered as blind.

He married Edith Eleanore Milbrandt on 14 February 1952 and they have three daughters, Catherine, Julie, Susan, and a son, David. [ [] Dead link|date=March 2008]

Sykes is an honorary president of the Goon Show Preservation Society.


*1961 Guild of TV Producers and Directors' Lifetime Achievement Award
*1964 BBC TV Personality of the Year
*1980 Pye Colour TV Award
*1980 The Golden Rose of Montreux (for "The Plank")
*1985 The 25th Golden Rose Of Montreaux
*1986 OBE
*1988 Freedom Of The City of London
*1992 Lifetime Achievement Award from Writers' Guild of Great Britain
*1998 Honorary Fellowship Of University of Lancaster
*1998 Eric Morecambe Award from Comic Heritage
*2001 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Grand Order of Water Rats
*2001 Bernard Delfont Award for outstanding contribution to show business from the Variety Club of Great Britain
*2002 Oldie Of The Year
*2004 CBE


Created by and starring Eric Sykes

*"Sykes" (1972) (TV series)
*"Sykes and a Big Big Show" (1971) (TV series)

*"The Big Freeze" (1993)
*"Mr. H Is Late" (1988)
*"It's Your Move" (1982)
*"If You Go Down in the Woods Today" (1981)
*"The Likes of Sykes" (1980)
*"Rhubarb Rhubarb" (1980), a remake of "Rhubarb" (1969)
*"The Plank" (1979), a remake of "The Plank" (1967)
*"Eric Sykes Shows a Few of our Favourite Things" (1977)
*"" (1971)
*"Mr. H is Late" (1969)
*"Rhubarb" (1969)
*"The Plank" (1967)
*"Gala Opening" (1959)
*"Closing Night" (1957)
*"Dress Rehearsal" (1956)
*"Opening Night" (1956)
*"Pantomania, or Dick Whittington" (1956)

Other roles

*"Son of Rambow" (2007)
*"Heartbeat" (2007)
*"My Family" (2007)
*"New Tricks" (2007)
*"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" (2005)
*"The Others" (2001)
*"Gormenghast" (2000) (miniseries)
*"Dinnerladies" (1999)
*"Theatre of Blood" (1973)
*"Monte Carlo or Bust" (1969)
*"Shalako" (1968)
*"Spy With A Cold Nose" (1966)
*"Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines" (1965)
*"Rotten to the Core"
*"One Way Pendulum" (1964)
*"Kill or Cure" (1962)
*"Orders Are Orders" (1954)


External links

*imdb|id=0843059|name=Eric Sykes

NAME = Sykes, Eric
SHORT DESCRIPTION = Scriptwriter, comic actor
DATE OF BIRTH = 1923-05-04
PLACE OF BIRTH = Oldham, Lancashire

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