For the second time today, I must interrupt my hiatus, this time for a far more important reason. Eric Sykes is dead.
Eric Sykes was one of the hardest-working and most-admired individuals in British comedy. In a career spanning seven decades, he made his mark on the landscape of British comedy in a variety of ways. For several years he was one of Spike Milligan's main co-writers on The Goon Show, helping to craft much of the fourth series which Spike was coping with a nervous breakdown. In 1967 he collaborated with the legendary Tommy Cooper to create The Plank, a brilliantly funny near-silent film.
Sykes was a star in his own right, having his own sitcom called Sykes and A... (later just Sykes), which saw him partnered with Carry On... star Hattie Jacques. In later life he turned up in a variety of TV and film roles, playing Mollocks in the TV miniseries Gormenghast, the gardener in ghost story The Others and an elderly Rambo in the fantastic British comedy, Son of Rambow. His last appearance was in Agatha Christie's Poirot: Hallowe'en Party, alongside David Suchet.
Sykes did all this while being almost completely deaf and, in later years, registered blind.His trademark glassed were actually a bone-conducting hearing aid. This was joked about in The Last Goon Show of All, where Spike (playing the doddery Minnie Banister) cries out: "Speak up Henry [Crun]! Eric Sykes is in!"