1 9 6 0 – 1 9 6 5 (UK)
1 9 7 1 – 1 9 7 9 (UK)
128 x 30 minute episodes
A classic British comedy in which the irrepressible Eric Sykes constantly got himself in a mess with all manner of new technology in order to improve his lifestyle. Of course “new technology” to Sykes just meant everyday objects like the telephone.
Eric lived with his spinster sister Hattie (Hattie Jaques, veteran of the Carry On series of films and also the real-life wife of Dad’s Army actor John Le Mesurier), at 24 Sebastopol Terrace, East Acton, where they lived on our TV screens for the best part of twenty years.
In the later series, they moved two doors down to number 28.
Apart from having to contend with snooty, interfering next-door neighbour Mr Brown (Richard Wattis) or local Bobby, Corky Turnbull (Deryck Guyler), Eric and ‘Hat’ managed to get themselves into all sorts of difficulty, including episodes which found them handcuffed together, running a bus route minus the bus, and unwittingly harbouring an escaped convict, played by Peter Sellers.
Good fun was enjoyed with a temperamental cuckoo in their cuckoo clock, whom Eric and Hattie named Peter and spoke to as if it was a real bird (in a fine touch typical of Eric Sykes’ comedic inventiveness, they did so with such consistency that it became impossible to be sure if they were mad or correct).
There were also regular references to a character never seen – Corky’s wife, Elsie – and to one very rarely seen, Madge Kettlewell, who ran the baker’s shop and was very generous with her doughnuts. (Occasionally played by Joan Sims.)
The original episodes were transmitted under the title of Sykes and a . . . with the object that was about to cause havoc inserted into the title. The first episode was Sykes and a Telephone.
Johnny Speight wrote some of the early episodes, but Eric soon took over the task himself, although he did team up with Speight again in 1969 for the controversial Curry and Chips, which also starred Spike Milligan.
Unfortunately, the series ended with the death of Hattie Jacques in 1980.
Deryck Guyler died in October 1999 aged 85 in Brisbane, Australia. His big screen credits included the 1964 Beatles film A Hard Day’s Night, 1968’s Carry On Doctor, and One of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing from 1976.
NB: Between 1960 and 1965 the series was called Eric Sykes. After a seven-year break, the series returned under the title, Sykes. Some of the Sykes episodes were remakes of earlier Eric Sykes episodes.
PC Wilfred ‘Corky’ Turnbull
Mr Charles Brown
Miss Melanie Rumblow