Much beloved comic Eric Sykes, one of Britain's finest comedy actors and writers and a long-time star of radio, TV and film in post-war Britain, has died aged 89 after a short, but fatal, battle with illness.
For more than 60 years, Sykes entertained audiences and made people laugh on a whim ever since he was introduced to the world of show business through his wartime service. He quickly became one of the most in-demand radio comedy writers of the 1950's, providing scripts for programmes such as Educating Archie, Variety Bandbox and, by the mid-1950s, The Goon Show. His best-known role was probably as an exaggerated version of himself - a role that he created years before Larry David won plaudits for Curb Your Enthusiasm - during seven series of the 1970s sitcom Sykes, which co-starred Hattie Jacques as his long suffering sister. He also had brief roles in two recent movies, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Son of Rambow.
Since news of his death broke, tributes have been flooding in commending the massive talent Sykes held all his life, and the influence he spread over generations. Comics Mark Gatiss and Katy Brand both Tweeted their sadness, as did fellow comedy mainstay Steven Fry, who described him as "An adorable, brilliant, modest, hilarious, innovative and irreplaceable comic master." Magician Paul Daniels and fellow show biz veteran Sir Bruce Forsyth were also on hand to lend tributes to the Oldham born prodigy, with Sir Bruce describing him as "one of the greats of comedy in this country".