From Academic Kids

Sykes was a long-running BBC television sitcom of the 1960s and 1970s, starring Eric Sykes and Hattie Jacques. The original black and white series was entitled Sykes and... followed by the subject of the episode (i.e. Sykes and a Bus). Some early episodes were written by Johnny Speight, better known as the creator of Til Death Us Do Part; the rest were written by Sykes himself.

The colour series (1972 - 1979) also co-starred Richard Wattis and Deryck Guyler. Guest stars in the 1972 season alone included Peter Sellers, John Le Mesurier and Roy Kinnear. Most of the colour episodes were remakes of black and white episodes.

The basic situation is fairly simple. Eric and Hattie play their namesakes, a brother and sister ("identical" twins) living together in a typical London suburb. Each week a simple domestic problem escalates into an increasingly absurd situation which is exacerbated by Hattie's scatterbrained attempts to resolve matters and Eric's increasing impatience. Their snobbish neighbour Mr. Brown (Wattis) and local Policeman "Corky" (Guyler) usually end up making things even worse by their interference. Another "character" is Peter the wooden cuckoo, who pops out of his cuckoo clock odd times as if to comment on the proceedings.

Sykes has always claimed to be proud of the fact that his show made audiences laugh without ever resorting to profanity or crude sexual innuendoes.

Despite its original popularity, the series has not been repeated as frequently as contemporary shows like Dad's Army or Steptoe and Son, and has been cut for reruns on satellite.

However, the 1972 colour series was released on Region 2 DVD in 2004 in a fully-remastered version. Almost all of the episodes were reassembled direct to digital video from the original studio sessions, thus giving better quality than the broadcast master tapes which were at least one analogue generation removed from the studio recordings. Six of the remastered episodes even incorporate additional footage that was originally cut for timing and never broadcast. Outtakes from the recordings are featured as bonuses. One episode has only survived as a black and white telerecording, but even that has been cleaned up to a very high quality.

As a surname, Sykes means one who lives near a creek in a hilly area of Yorkshire.


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