Eric Sykes Tribute & Other News

Photo: Eric Sykes and his manager Norma Farnes with Slapstick and Bristol Silents’ Director Chris Daniels in 2006 at Watershed

It is with a mixture of great pride and sadness that I write this blog.

Pride that Bristol Silents is about to present it’s first silent film event in the US next week and sadness at the passing of one of our greatest patrons Eric Sykes CBE, who died this week at the grand age of 89 following a short illness.

Eric Sykes

Eric Sykes was a true comedy genius perhaps best known for his SYKES television series and his series of popular short ‘silent’ comedies throughout the sixties and seventies including THE PLANK (1967). Working with Eric on live shows celebrating his comic talents has been a real highlight of my time producing shows at Bristol Silents and Slapstick Festival.

We worked with Eric on four sell out shows over the past decade showcasing his silent comedy talents and two of these shows (2003 and 2009) were filmed so that we have archived records of them.

Eric Sykes Events: Hosted by Bristol Silents and Slapstick Festival
2003 Bristol Watershed: Sykes at 80 in conversation with Chris Daniels plus screening of The Plank
2005 London Barbican Cinema: A Celebration of Sykes
2006 Bristol Watershed: Eric Sykes In conversation with Andrew Kelly in collaboration with Festival of Ideas to promote his autobiography – If I Dont Write It Nobody Will.
2009 Bristol Old Vic: An Audience with Eric Sykes in conversation with Graeme Garden and recipient of the inaugral Aardman Slapstick award for excellence in the field of visual comedy

We believe the 2009 show at Bristol Old Vic to be his last live onstage discussion to be filmed.

He was a true gentleman and always took the time to be appreciative of the hospitality offered with great humility.

Genuinely funny in person and always a true pleasure to meet and spend time with, Eric adored his audience and the feeling was evidently mutual.

The warmth from audiences during his shows is something i’ve not experienced with any other guest before or since.

Britain has lost one of it’s finest comic writers and performers but at least we have his classic films and appearances to remind us.

Eric Sykes appeared in a long list of films, for a run through his filmography visit IMDB here.

Perhaps his most famous film was The Plank which you can view up above.

We wish Eric’s family and Norman Farnes our warmest wishes.

SOUTH in San Francisco!

I’m delighted to announce that Bristol Silents’ specially commisioned event SOUTH (1919) with readings from Shackleton’s diaries with be performed at The Castro theatre at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival on Saturday 14th July. The narration (from Shackleton’s diaries) will be read as before by Bristol Silents patron and actor Paul McGann with Stephen Horne on piano, accordian and flute.

We are delighted to be hosting this special production of SOUTH with the wonderful San Francisco Silent Film Festival following it’s premiere in Bristol at Arnolfini in 2011 & its screening at the Giornate Cinema Muto in Italy last October.

If you want more info about this screening please visit the Festival’s website here.

Slapstick 2013

Finally a clue to the focus for Slapstick 2013 can be found on the new homepage of the festival site.

A teaser for the 2013 programme? any thoughts? The glasses are a clue and it’s NOT Woody Allen!

Warmest wishes

Chris Daniels
Slapstick Festival/Bristol Silents

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  1. #1 by IAN PAYNE on July 15, 2012 - 6:36 am

    I have just spoke with Norma on Friday just gone.

    I am sad to hear of the recent death of comic genius Eric Sykes – last of the Vaudevillian style entertainers.

    He scripted so many marvellous comedy shows like THE PLANK and SYKES and wrote for others. So many great comedians appeared in his shows, many also sadly gone, but who can ever forget Eric, Deryck Guyler, Hattie Jacques, Richard Wattis in SYKES and Tommy Cooper, Spike Milligan, Jimmy Tarbuck, Jimmy Edwards and Roy Castle, etc in THE PLANK.

    SYKES was the longest running TV sitcom ever made, starting in the early 1960’s and ending in 1980 and still holds that title. Eric wrote every script for that sitcom and kept it going with a passion, fighting for its total existence for nearly twenty years. THE PLANK was made in 1966/67 and was probably the last successful slap-stick comedy film ever made. Others were tried at later dates, but the public mood moved away from that type of comedy by then.

    When I wrote a book about Wednesbury/Walsall born Richard Wattis between 2003 – 2005, Eric contacted me with this memory :

    “I have so many memories of Richard, he was a wonderful actor. There is one particular memory that always makes me smile when I think about Richard.

    I had been asked to do a world tour with the show and Hattie Jacques and Deryck Guyler were delighted, however Richard came to me with that wonderful look he had and told me that he couldn’t possibly join us all on the world tour because he had such a fear of flying. I tried to talk to him in the hope that I would convince him that everything would be all right. I’ll never forget he looked at me and said ‘Eric, infact I have to take a Librium to cross the road’.

    I never did persuade him and we went ahead with the world tour but it was never the same without Richard”

    Eric was a real gentleman and a kind person, with an affinity for his fans – may he RIP. He is probably meeting all those he knew and worked with in the big theatre bar in the sky as I write. He is missed already and will be missed for many years to come. Sadly we will never see or meet his ilk again.

    Keep up the good work !!



    PS :

  2. #2 by this guy on February 8, 2013 - 6:53 pm

    Good answers in return of this difficulty with firm arguments and telling the whole thing regarding that.

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