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  • Warning: Spoilers
    Before I begin, let me wish all I.M.D.B. members a Happy Boxing Day, in particular my friends 'Cyril Blake', 'Bullet-91' and 'Missstephie'.

    Wasn't 'Dr.Who - The Doctor, The Widow & The Wardrobe' awful? Like eating ten Xmas puddings at the same time. The show should now be retitled either 'Steven Moffat's Fairytale Hour' or 'Matt Smith's Facepulling Extravaganza'. So the Doctor is now able to survive a fall through space without burning up in Earth's atmosphere? What was the point of the sub-'Star Wars - A New Hope' opening? I don't know, and suspect Moffat doesn't know either.

    'The Likes Of Sykes' went out on New Year's Day 1979, sandwiched between the film 'Paint Your Wagon' and the Michael Frayn comedy 'Donkey's Years' starring Penelope Keith. The one-hour show stars our Eric as the frustrated director of a Broadway musical. Everything imaginable goes wrong - sets collapse, props fail to turn up, actors fluff their lines or get ego trips etc. Hugh Burden ( best known for his sinister roles ) fronts a would-be show stopper ( complete with dancers holding up big playing cards ), later we see him in a 'Brief Encounter'-type scene with Diana Coupland of 'Bless This House', a ventriloquist's dummy comes to life, and there's a 'War & Peace' inspired finale involving soldiers and cannons.

    Its not one of Eric's better efforts. The sketches are threadbare in the extreme, padded out with corny gags such as Coupland trying to write a letter using a quill pen and the feather tickling her nose. An entire skit is based on the conceit that actress Debbie Arnold is 'ugly'. Anyone who recalls Arnold from her numerous television appearances from that time will know that she is definitely not ugly, the very opposite in fact ( John 'Boycie' Challis was once married to her! ).

    Hattie Jacques' absence is noticeable, and while supporting players of the calibre of David Battley, Diane Holland, Ricardo Montez, and John Comer are around, they manage to be wasted on the whole. Guitarist John Williams has a nice musical solo, but that's about it.

    'Likes' has just been issued on D.V.D. along with two other Sykes' I.T.V. specials, and is easily the weakest of the three. Strangely absent from the collection is Eric's 1977 show - which features Peter Cook and Jimmy Edwards - and was the origin of that hilarious clip ( shown on Eric's 'Heroes Of Comedy' ) in which he and Hat warbled 'When I'm Calling You' from 'Rose Marie'.