LOTSW and Eric Sykes

Tea Time Tidbit for the week of January 28, 2019

What could be better than curling up with a nice cup of tea at 1:30pm on a cold late January afternoon and settling down to watch Last of the Summer Wine? How about refreshing the tea-pot and watching a second episode at 3:30pm! Because this week we start airing two different episodes of LOTSW Monday through Friday.

Tea Time Tidbit

Eric Sykes

The first 3:30pm episode on Tuesday, January 29th starred a veteran – and much missed – comedian, Eric Sykes, who plays “Doggy,” an old friend of the LOTSW gang, who at 82 is getting re-married and invites his old friends to his stag night. Seeing as Doggy can’t even recall the name of his intended you can just imagine how well the night is going to end! When you watch the episode, bear in mind that when he recorded the episode in 2007, Sykes was 84 years old, deaf and had been registered blind for at least a decade.

Deafness was something Sykes had had to deal with since his early 20s when he was a young RAF wireless operator during World War II in Normandy. According to Sykes, that’s when his hearing troubles started. "What with the shelling and so forth — an invasion is jolly noisy," he once quipped in an interview.

Tea Time Tidbit

Eric Sykes with his long time television
co-star Hattie Jacques and Richard Wattis

By the 1960s, Sykes was profoundly deaf. He managed to keep his hearing problems private by sporting a pair of thick rimmed glasses. What viewers didn’t realize at the time was that the glasses didn’t have any lenses, but were used as a way of hiding Sykes’ specially formulated electronic hearing aids, which were able to conduct sound vibrations to the bone behind his ear. He was also able to lip-read. In the mid-1960s, Sykes went public with his hearing issues, and the viewers probably loved him all the more for his honesty.

Despite his challenges, Sykes spent over five decades as one of the U.K.’s best loved television funny guys. At one point he was the highest paid comedian in Britain. He appeared in over 20 films and also on stage. Starting in the 1940s, Sykes was also a prolific script-writer. In fact, he loved writing so much that he continued to write in long-hand till the very end, even when he could no longer see what he was writing because of his failing eyesight.

Sykes last role on television was in 2010, when he appeared in an episode of Poirot, titled "Halloween Party." His last film role was as the muggle Frank Bryce in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Sykes credits his success to his mother – a woman he actually never met, as she had died giving birth to him at the age of just 22. Throughout his life though, Sykes believed the mother he never knew acted as his guardian angel.

“What other people may call coincidences are to me miracles brought about by the good hand of my mother.” Sykes once reportedly said. “My mother is a woman who gave up her life so I could have mine.”

To contact Heather:
E-mail: heather@mpt.org
Address: Afternoon Tea
Maryland Public Television
11767 Owings Mills Blvd.
Owings Mills, MD 21117

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Afternoon Tea is Maryland Public Television's weekday presentation of British programs.
Our host and Tea Lady is Heather Sanderson.
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