Hats off to Eric in star-studded showbiz tribute

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The veteran comedian Eric Sykes yesterday celebrated 50 years in showbusiness.

Stars including Bruce Forsyth, Bob Hoskins, Ken Dodd, Dave Allen and Spike Milligan honoured him at a special Variety Club lunch at the Dorchester Hotel, in London.

Sykes, 73, (pictured right with Hoskins) has been enjoying a comeback recently, getting rave reviews for his West End debut this year in Sir Peter Hall's production of Moliere's School For Wives. But he has always been best known as a television comedian, particularly for his gentle Sixties sitcom series starring himself as genial, and accident prone with Hattie Jacques playing his sister. He has also written scripts for Tommy Cooper, Frankie Howerd and The Goons.

Recently he made known his antipathy to some modern comics. The younger generation, he said, were over-confident and lacked the "vulnerability" of their older peers. He said: "These days they come on and insult audiences. That's not right. If you look at old comics, such as Tommy Cooper, the only people they were talking down were themselves."

A spokesman for the Variety Club said the lunch was also to thank the veteran entertainer for his years of work for the club's children's charity.

He is a member of the Variety Club Golfing Society, the club's leading Sunshine Coach sponsor which provides transport for thousands of disadvantaged children each year.

David Lister