English comedian Eric Sykes has died at the age of 89.
He has a long list of film and TV roles and appearances, but I loved him best for The Plank, in which he not only played the lead role, but which he also wrote and directed. He made three versions of the film I think; I much prefer the 1979 version which co-stars Arthur Lowe of Dad’s Army fame and includes a cast of other greats of British comedy, including Charlie Drake, Jimmy Edwards, Harry H Corbett and Frankie Howerd.
Eric and Arthur play two builders who find that local kids have purloined a board they need to complete the floor of the house they’re building. Rather than disrupt the kids’ game they set off to the timber yard to get a new one. The journey there and back turns into a cross between a comedy of errors and a slapstick movie, and they leave a wake of mayhem and confusion wherever they go. Here’s a clip:
The Sykes/Lowe version of The Plank is available on a DVD called The Likes of Sykes which includes four other Sykes shows.
SBS includes a video tribute to Eric Sykes in their report of his death.
Michael Palin, in paying tribute to Eric, said he “was one of the nicest, most decent men in the business and one of a kind. No-one else could do what Eric could do. To me, he was a great inspiration, both as a writer and performer.”
Great praise, indeed.