The sheer number of modern comedians including Stephen Fry, Mark Gatiss and Robin Ince sharing their condolences and tributes on Twitter are testament to the absolute respect and love for the man, however his work and legacy are more than sufficient to show what a profoundly influential force Sykes was on all things funny.
Born in Lancashire in 1923, Sykes served in the RAF during World War II and it was here that his comedy career began when he met then Flight Lieutenant Bill Fraser. After the war a chance encounter on a London street led to Fraser, now an actor, giving Sykes a gig as a writer for radio.
This writing job saw Sykes also write for Frankie Howerd, and his talent for taking comedy to innovative and ingenious levels shone through to ensure he became highly in demand. During the 50s he moved not only from radio to TV but also from the typewriter to performing in front of the camera.
Proof of his comedy chops can be seen just by the roll call of those he collaborated with over the subsequent decades, including Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers, Tony Hancock, Sid James, Morcambe and Wise, Ronnie Barker and Tommy Cooper. So basically everyone then.
As an actor his CV was surprisingly eclectic and diverse. There are too many to list here but we recommend early comedies such as The Plank and Rhubarb, and the exceptional horror Theatre of Blood.
Despite being practically blind and deaf, in his later years Sykes continued working until 2010, popping up in recent films The Others, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Son of Rambow.
Over time Eric Sykes picked up a string of awards and in 2004 he was awarded a CBE, but more importantly, was an honorary president of the Goon Show Preservation Society.
Eric Sykes died peacefully after a short illness surrounded by his family. He was 89. We never met him but by all accounts his innovative talent was matched by his modesty, humility and gentle demeanour. It’s rare to find someone in this industry who is genuine, self-effacing and humble, but Sykes was all this and more.
So, as we shine a light on one part of our universe thanks to the Large Hadron Collider, another goes out. RIP Eric Sykes.
Copyright : Comedy Central UK