Remembering Midsomer Murders’ Sykes and other 4-legged screen pets on National Love Your Pet Day 2021!

Photo: ITV/Midsomer Murders

Aside from the obvious of taking a moment during National Love Your Pet Day 2021 to give an extra long hug to Tellyspotting’s own feline friend, MiniBoots, my thoughts drifted back to all the great pets that we have had to pleasure to cross paths with over the years on various British dramas and mysteries. From Downton Abbey to Poldark to Victoria, these 4-legged companions as as much a part of the series as both the lead actors/actresses and ensemble casts.

No self-respecting animal lover will ever forget Isis and Pharoah, the two 4-legged companions that were forever by Lord Grantham’s side in Downton Abbey or the majestic visual of Seamus riding up and down the Cornish coast in Poldark with Captain Ross Poldark at the helm or Queen Victoria’s beloved Dash, always at the young Queen’s side in Victoria.

Tori playing Dash in ‘Victoria.’ (Photo: PBS/ITV)

Today, however, my thoughts immediately turned to the fictional English county of Midsomer and one of its most recognized residents, Sykes. It was a sad day back in September 2016 when one of the most beloved TV dogs since Lassie announced his retirement from Midsomer Murders. Sykes, John Barnaby’s beloved pet dog, hung up his lead following series 15 and retired after five years with the show.

At the time, Neil Dudgeon (DCI John Barnaby) said: “I will miss working with Sykes for many reasons. He is the consummate professional and like most actors will do anything for a sausage. I am happy he likes the retirement bed we bought him and that he will spend more time sleeping than working. Paddy our new boy has fitted in perfectly and filled the very large doggy shoes of Sykes.”

Since retirement, the then 13-year-old Jack Russell cross has been with a foster family since retirement up until the very sad recent news of his passing surfaced on the Midsomer Murders Facebook page at what it believed to be the age of 16.

Sykes was no stranger to the camera having appeared in numerous films including Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet StreetThe Other Boleyn GirlYoung VictoriaThe DutchessAlexanderPrince of Persia: The Sands of TimePirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black PearlThe Wolfman and Clash of Titans. Prior to his stint on Midsomer Murders, Sykes’ first TV series was a brief disobedient role in Return to Cranford in 2009.

The story of Sykes reads a bit like those stories of Hollywood actresses being discovered while waiting tables in Hollywood. Sykes, a Jack Russell terrier, was originally found roaming as a stray by stunt dog specialist Gill Raddings in 2004 when it was estimated he was 7 months old. After a few adverts, as they say, the rest was history. He even has his own Wikipedia page!

Sykes appeared in 29 episodes of Midsomer Murders from 2011-2016 (series 14-18). RIP, Sykes!

Take a moment today and give an extra hug to your pet and keep all those we have come to know and love from our favorite British comedies, mysteries and dramas over the years in your thoughts on National Love Your Pet Day 2021. Trust me, it’ll bring a much-needed smile to your face.

In: Odds & Sods