Damien on… Eric Sykes – RIP
Today, I noted with sadness the passing of another one of Britain’s GIANTS of comedy.
However this piece is not about the genius and geniality of Mr Sykes (there will be PLENTY of pieces about those) but rather a curious fact about probably his most famous work – “The Plank” – which is that the 1979 remake has now lost more of its contributors than the 1967 original.
The ’67 version starred Sykes, with Tommy Cooper, Jimmy Edwards and Roy Castle. And now that Eric has joined them, that quartet is no more.
It featured Jimmy Tarbuck, Anna Carteret, John Junkin, Bill Oddie, Stratford Johns, Graham Stark, Jim Dale, Hattie Jacques, Libby Morris, Ronnie Brody, Johnny Speight and Kenny Lynch – most of whom, while being somewhat long in the tooth, are still WITH us. Tarby lives – along with Anna, Oddie, Stark, Dale, Libby and Lynchy.
But those featured in the remake have been less lucky. Like its predecessor, THAT film also starred/featured Sykes, Edwards and Lynchy – along with, this time, Arthur Lowe, Lionel Blair, Henry Cooper, Harry H. Corbett, Bernard Cribbins, Robert Dorning, Diana Dors, Charlie Drake, Liza Goddard, Deryck Guyler, Charles Hawtrey, Frankie Howerd, James Hunt, Wilfred Hyde-White, Joanna Lumley, Brian Murphy, Kate O’Mara, Anne Sidney, Reg Varney and Frank Windsor – ALL of whom have passed, with the exceptions of Blair, Cribbins, Liza, Joanna, Murphy, Kate and Ann.
Now I realize the list of survivors of both movies is, coincidentally, the SAME – lucky SEVEN.
But as can be seen from the size of the two paras, the remake’s cast was much BIGGER. NO-ONE was gonna turn down the chance of working with Mr Sykes – particularly in a remake of The Plank.
And anyway, given the remake was made TWELVE YEARS later – you would have expected more cast members to have survived.
But no. They have been DECIMATED – a number passing prematurely – mostly from cancer.
However, while the remake might have been unlucky for its cast – it is MORE than lucky for US. In this miserable AGE of remakes (and sequels, “prequels” whatever) due to Hollywood having run out of IDEAS – the remake of The Plank is well worth a look.
It should be on YouTube (I failed to upload it as it was already there) and uses all of the music hall gags worked into the original – plus the ones Eric ADDED to it – and yet MORE he added to the remake. In short, it’s a masterpiece.
And the original (same as above) is worth a look too – if only to see a rare film appearance by Tommy Cooper.
Plus do not forget Sykes’ other “silent” movies – “Rhubarb”, “It’s Your Move” (both of which also featured remakes) “Mr H. Is Late” and “The Big Freeze” (I have not SEEN that one – and it is not on YouTube – but if it is half as good as the others, it must be great).
Now that Mr Sykes has been taken from us, we will not see their like again.