Comedian Eric Sykes dies aged 89

The comedian and actor, best known for his work in 1950s sitcoms with Hattie Jacques, has died.

The comedian and actor Eric Sykes has died peacefully aged 89, his manager has announced.

Sykes was a regular on The Goon Show with the likes of Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe, and was well-known from the long-running sitcom Sykes and A...  with Hattie Jacques.

Here he is with Tommy Cooper in The Likes of Sykes:

And this gem from Sykes and A..., where Eric acts out a naval battle in the bath and then gets his toe stuck in the bathtap, is truly excellent. Enjoy.

 

 

Eric Sykes at the South Bank Show Awards in 2006. Photograph: Getty Images

Caroline Crampton is web editor of the New Statesman.

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Cabinet audit: what does the appointment of Karen Bradley as Culture Secretary mean for policy?

The political and policy-based implications of the new Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

The most politically charged of the culture minister's responsibilities is overseeing the BBC, and to anyone who works for - or simply loves - the national broadcaster, Karen Bradley has one big point in her favour. She is not John Whittingdale. Her predecessor as culture secretary was notorious for his belief that the BBC was a wasteful, over-mighty organisation which needed to be curbed. And he would have had ample opportunity to do this: the BBC's Charter is due for renewal next year, and the licence fee is only fixed until 2017. 

In her previous job at the Home Office, Karen Bradley gained a reputation as a calm, low-key minister. It now seems likely that the charter renewal will be accomplished with fewer frothing editorials about "BBC bias" and more attention to the challenges facing the organisation as viewing patterns fragment and increasing numbers of viewers move online.

Of the rest of the job, the tourism part just got easier: with the pound so weak, it will be easier to attract visitors to Britain from abroad. And as for press regulation, there is no word strong enough to describe how long the grass is into which it has been kicked.

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.