Celebrating the life of a comic genius

It says something about the current state of television that the programme that I am recommending this week is not only a repeat, but is also a programme about a comedian who sadly passed away over a year ago.

Eric Sykes had his own BBC series in the 1960/70s where he played the brother of Hattie Jacques. The two of them got into many comic situations often aided by Derek Guyler and Richard Wattis. Eric not only starred in the series – he also wrote all the episodes too.

He was also involved in some interesting visual short television films such as The Plank.

However by the 1990s, Eric was sadly not appearing quite so regularly on television. However Eric – like Richard Briers – later on reinvented himself as a serious actor in several film and TV roles. Eric was also famous for the stage play that he did with Jimmy Edwards – Big Bad Mouse – which was not successful until the two comedians decided to ad-lib much of the show.

The result was that audiences did not know quite what to expect – except that they would have an enjoyable evening. Unfortunately Eric did not have an easy life. His mother died in childbirth, and his early life was not a particularly happy one.

Also throughout most of his life he was partially deaf and registered blind. This documentary celebrates the work of Eric Sykes – the comedian and scriptwriter - who wrote an autobiography because he felt nobody else would want to write his life story.

However it is in fact a very interesting life story and the documentary features classic clips showcasing his talent, along with contributions from many famous celebrities. If only television would rescreen his classic programmes on a regular basis!

IAN K