Eric Sykes, CBE is a British comedic
writer and actor. He is widely regarded as an unsung
hero behind much of the British comedy scene over the
past 50 years.
He is perhaps best known for his BBC television sitcom
with Hattie Jacques and Deryck Guyler, called Sykes.
However, he was well-known on radio during the 1950s,
both behind the scenes and in front of the microphone.
He also helped Spike Milligan with The Goon Show
after Milligan's depression. He had first collaborated
with Milligan on a radio special called Archie in Goonland,
which was a crossover 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,
and all existing recordings and scripts have been destroyed,
but Milligan and Sykes collaborated on numerous Goon
Show scripts and shared an office for years afterward.
One of Sykes' best known creations is his classic
wordless slapstick routine, The Plank, which began
as a sketch in his TV series. It was later expanded
into an enduringly popular 45-minute film in 1967,
co-starring Sykes, Tommy Cooper, Jimmy Edwards, Roy
Castle, Graham Stark, Stratford Johns, Jim Dale, Jimmy
Tarbuck and Hattie Jacques. A third version was made
in 1979 as a half-hour special, with an all-star cast
including Charlie Drake, Charles Hawtrey and Wilfred
Hyde-White. More recently, 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, despite his advancing years.
Sykes became profoundly deaf as an adult. His "trademark" spectacles
contain no lenses, but are rather a bone-conducting
In the New Year's Honours List published 31 December
2004 he was created a Commander of the Order of the
British Empire for services to Drama, following a petition
by MPs after he was left out of the Birthday Honours
In a 2005 poll to find The Comedian's Comedian, he
was voted amongst the top 50 comedy acts ever by fellow
comedians and comedy insiders.