Eric Sykes Well slap me sideways and call me Shirley! Haven't there been a lot of famous Eric's in our time? There's Eric Clapton: the famous Lebanese window cleaner. Eric Bana: the famous Dutch chimpanzee. Eric Idle: the not so famous skin condition. And of course there's that Sykes chap seen in this one hour documentary produced by the BBC, in 2001.

If I Don't Write It Nobody Else Will

Now before Eric Sykes arrives for work in the morning -- at number 9, Orme Court -- his personal assistant, Janet Spearman, makes the tea, and his manager, Norma Farnes, arranges any of his up and coming show-biz appointments for him.

Hey! Wait a minute! You do know who Eric Sykes is, don't you? He's a writer. He's a comedian. And he's the partly sighted / partly blind legend that this 'Arena' documentary is all about. Here, look past the archived footage and stock photography this program has on offer, and let Eric tell you what's what in quote given form.

  • My childhood ambition was to drive the tram at the Blackpool illuminations.
  • Although I have never met her, my Mother has always been by my side, bringing me luck wherever I went.
  • My father worked in a cotton mill. Good job too; because there was a lot of cotton around at the time.  
  • It was a fortune teller who told me I could write. Since then I had a feeling that something worthwhile was going to happen to me, no matter what.
  • I knew Bill Fraser from the war. So it was a miracle he got me a job writing for him when I first came to London. I literally bumped into Bill by chance.
  • I used to write with Spike. He'd get very depressed on occasion. And after one argument we had, we both decided that I'd write one week, and he'd write the next.
  • Galton and Simpson's work had a point to it. A message. And I did not need to add to that, did I?  
  • When I first heard that Frankie Howerd wanted me to write some material for him, it was like getting a letter from the Queen.
  • Hattie Jacques wasn't fat. She was beautifully built. And the way she moved was just so.
  • I am proud of a lot of things. But I'm proud of my own family the most, as they understood that writing doesn't keep set times.
  • I contracted something called macular degeneration a while ago. It's a condition that wears down the back of my eyes. Doesn't stop me from working though.
  • As soon as I close the door to my office, I enter into my own world of creation, jam packed full of memories.
  • In life you have two choices: You either walk with your head held up, or you head held down.
  • The audience makes you a comic, not you. I never met a comic that wanted to be one originally.
  • I've got to be very careful writing letters to old friends nowadays, just in case they've passed away recently.

And with that, the lights dim, the curtains raise, and one more star of stage and screen performs for his adoring public. Viva la Sykes. 

Dear Eric Sykes

Alright. I know that you're died now. Still. With a bit of luck -- and a lot of hope -- maybe this message will somehow reach you up in the kingdom of heaven.

You see, when I originally heard of your passing, I was going to write a prose piece out of respect, just to honor your works, your talents, and you as a person. However, prior to me doing this, I caught a glimpse of an advert relating to this 'Arena' documentary, thus prompting me to reassess my stance.

Well, this program had the promise to channel my energies in a more erstwhile and personal fashion. Making what I had to say a lot more focused and warming by default.

Spike Milligan and Eric Sykes

And did it? Yeah. It sort of did. It was a fairly nice show to watch if truth be told. All lavished in a very congenial tone that I just loved to gaze at for its entirety. Moreover, I did find your manager, Norma Farnes, a great addition to this piece as well. She really knows how to talk about you and your history, huh? Without making it come across as 'a piece to the camera'.

But as for you on the other hand, Eric -- well -- you're me. A 'me' that I can relate to on so many different levels. We're both writers. We're both optimistic. We're both funny. And we're both partly sighted too.

Yeah. No messing about. Like you, I'm as visually ambitious as Ray Charles in a black-out during an eclipse. But that's not a problem for people like us, is it Eric? We both know that what's one man's disability is another man's gain. Also, we can both comprehend that fate steers our lives whatever direction it us wants us to go in, huh? 

Eric, Hattie, and Harry

Eric Sykes Bless Him
Here, check out some of these fact's I've cobbled together about you, my honorary pal. You might find them interesting. (1) Eric Sykes was born on the 4th of May, 1923, in Oldham, Lancashire. And he died on the 4th of July, 2012, in Esher, Surrey. His death was due to natural causes. (2) Originally Eric wrote the part Tommy Cooper played in the film, 'The Plank', for his good friend, Peter Sellers. (3) Norma Farnes was the manager to both Spike Milligan and Eric Sykes, who he'd occasionally co-writer 'the Goon Show' with.  (4) According to the pundits, Eric's trademark signature was to take a single comic idea to its extreme heights. But that's most probably why he wrote for such people as the aforementioned 'Goons', Tony Hancock, Tommy Cooper, and Johnny Speight. (5) On two separate occasions Eric played a caretaker in the movies -- 'The Others' in 2001, and 'Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire' in 2005. (6) As much as Eric really admired the work of Monty Python, in the same breath, he stated that their style of comedy led to the decline of British humor. (7) During the latter part of his life, Eric was awarded with a number of prestigious awards. To name but a few: In 1986 he was given the OBE for his services to British Drama. In 2002 he was awarded with the Benard Delfont Award for his Outstanding Contribution to show business. And in 2005 he was awarded the CBE in the Queens New Years Honors List. (8) Eric's last television work was on a 2010 episode of Agatha Christie's Poirot, entitled 'Hallowe'en Party'.

Eric Sykes Tea

Anyway, Eric, I best go now. Stuff to do and all that. But before I dart off back into the dark unknown, please have in mind that your works and you as a person will live on through infamy and beyond. Especially if I have anything to say about it, OK?

Love, Light, and Peace. You're ever loving reviewer.


SYKES AND A DAY SYKES AND A DAY Reviewed by David Andrews on November 29, 2012 Rating: 5
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