OUCH! by MR.E.

OUCH! by MR.E.

Friday, June 13, 2014

FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE: Tribute to RIK MAYALL The Young Ones Bottom

"This house will become a shrine, and punks and skins and rastas will all gather round and hold their hands in sorrow for their fallen leader. And all the grown-ups will say, 'But why are the kids crying?' And the kids will say, 'Haven’t you heard? Rick is dead! The People’s Poet is dead!'"

Richard Michael "Rik" Mayall (March 7, 1958 – June 9, 2014) was an English comedian, writer, actor, and voice-over artist.  Mayall was best known for his comedy partnership with Adrian "Ade" Edmondson, for his energetic "post-punk" style of acting, and as a pioneer of alternative comedy in the early 1980s.  He appeared in numerous cult classic British sitcoms, including: The Young Ones, Bottom, Filthy Rich & Catflap, Blackadder, and The New Statesman; and in the comedy films: Drop Dead Fred, Guest House Paradiso, and Carry On Columbus.


Edmondson and Mayall gained their reputation at the Comedy Store, from 1980.  Apart from performing in their double act, 20th Century Coyote, Mayall developed solo routines, using characters such as Kevin Turvey and a pompous anarchist poet named Rick.  This led to Edmondson and Mayall, along with Comedy Store compere Alexei Sayle and other upcoming comedians, including Nigel Planer, Peter Richardson, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders, Arnold Brown and Pete Richens, setting up their own comedy club called "The Comic Strip" in the Raymond Revuebar, a strip club in Soho.

Mayall's Kevin Turvey character gained a regular slot in A Kick Up the Eighties, first broadcast in 1981.  He appeared as "Rest Home" Ricky in Richard O'Brien's Shock Treatment, a sequel to The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  He played Dentonvale's resident attendant as the love interest to Nell Campbell's Nurse Ansalong.

Mayall's television appearances as Kevin Turvey warranted a mockumentary based on the character titled Kevin Turvey – The Man Behind The Green Door, broadcast in 1982.

The previous year, he appeared in a bit role in An American Werewolf in London.  His stage partnership with Edmondson continued, with them often appearing together as "The Dangerous Brothers," hapless daredevils whose hyper-violent antics foreshadowed their characters in Bottom.  Channel 4 offered the Comic Strip group six short films, which became The Comic Strip Presents..., debuting on November 2, 1982.  The series, which continued sporadically for many years, saw Mayall play a wide variety of roles.  It was known for anti-establishment humour and for parodies such as Bad News on Tour, a spoof "rockumentary" starring Mayall, Richardson, Edmondson and Planer as a heavy metal band, and Five Go Mad in Dorset, a parody of the Famous Five.

At the time The Comic Strip Presents... was negotiated, the BBC took an interest in The Young Ones, a sitcom written by Mayall and then-girlfriend Lise Mayer, in the same anarchic vein as Comic Strip.  Ben Elton joined the writers.  The series was commissioned and first broadcast in 1982, shortly before Comic Strip.  Mayall played Rik, a pompous sociology student and Cliff Richard devotee.  Despite the sitcom format, Mayall maintained his double-act with Edmondson, who starred as violent punk Vyvyan. Nigel Planer (as hippie Neil) and Christopher Ryan (as "Mike the cool person") also starred, with additional material written and performed by Alexei Sayle.

The first series was successful and a second was screened in 1984.  The show owed a comic debt to The Goon Show's Spike Milligan, but Milligan was disapproving of Mayall.  Milligan once wrote: "Rik Mayall is putrid – absolutely vile.  He thinks nose-picking is funny and farting and all that.  He is the arsehole of British comedy."

Mayall continued to work on The Comic Strip films.  He returned to stand-up comedy, performing on Saturday Live—a British version of the Saturday Night Live—first broadcast in 1985.  He and Edmondson had a regular section as "The Dangerous Brothers," their earlier stage act.

In 1985, Mayall debuted another comic creation.  He had starred in the final episode of the first series of Rowan Atkinson's Blackadder (1983) as "Mad Gerald."  He returned to play Lord Flashheart in the Blackadder II episode titled "Bells."  A descendant of this character, Squadron Commander Flashheart, was in the Blackadder Goes Forth episode "Private Plane."  In the same episode, he was reunited with Edmondson, who played German flying ace Baron von Richthofen the "Red Baron," in a scene where he comes to rescue Captain Blackadder from the Germans.  Nearly a decade later, Mayall also appeared in Blackadder: Back & Forth as Robin Hood.

In 1986, Mayall joined Planer, Edmondson and Elton to star as Richie Rich in Filthy Rich & Catflap, which was billed as a follow-up to The Young Ones.  The idea of Filthy Rich and Catflap was a reaction to comments made by Jimmy Tarbuck about The Young Ones.  The series' primary focus was to highlight the "has been" status of light entertainment.  While Mayall received positive critical reviews, viewing figures were poor and the series was never repeated on the BBC.  In later years, release on video, DVD and repeats on UK TV found a following.  Mayall suggested that the series did not last because he was uncomfortable acting in an Elton project, when they had been co-writers on The Young Ones.

In 1986, Mayall played the Detective in the video of "Peter Gunn" by Art Of Noise featuring Duane Eddy.

1987 saw Mayall co-star with Edmondson in the ITV sitcom Hardwicke House. Due to adverse reaction from press and viewers, ITV withdrew the series after two episodes.

In the same year, Mayall had a number one hit in the UK Singles charts, when he and his co-stars from The Young Ones teamed with Cliff Richard to record "Living Doll" for the inaugural Comic Relief campaign.

Mayall played Rick one last time in the stage-show and supported the Comic Relief cause for the rest of his life.

He appeared on the children's television series Jackanory.  His crazed portrayal of Roald Dahl's George's Marvellous Medicine proved memorable.  However, the BBC received complaints "with viewers claiming both story and presentation to be both dangerous and offensive."


In 1987, Mayall played fictional Conservative MP Alan Beresford B'Stard in the sitcom The New Statesman (Yorkshire Television) written by Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran.  The character was a satirical portrait of Tory MPs in the United Kingdom in the 1980s and early 1990s.  The programme ran for four series—incorporating two BBC specials—between 1987–94 and was successful critically and in the ratings.

In a similar vein to his appearance on Jackanory, in 1989 Mayall starred in a series of bit shows for ITV called Grim Tales, in which he narrated Grimm Brothers fairy tales while puppets acted the stories.

In the early 1990s, Mayall starred in humorous adverts for Nintendo games and consoles.  With money from the ads, he bought his house in London which he called "Nintendo Towers."  In 1991, Edmondson and Mayall co-starred in the West End production of Beckett's Waiting for Godot at the Queen's Theatre, with Mayall playing Vladimir, Edmondson as Estragon and Christopher Ryan as Lucky.

Here they came up with the idea for Bottom, which they said was a cruder cousin to Waiting for Godot.  Bottom was commissioned by the BBC and three series were shown between 1991 and 1995.  Mayall starred in Bottom as Richard 'Richie' Richard alongside Edmondson's Eddie Elizabeth Hitler.  The series featured slapstick violence taken to new extremes, and gained a strong cult following.  In 1993, following the second series, Mayall and Edmondson decided to take a stage-show version of the series on a national tour, Bottom: Live.

It was a commercial success, filling large venues.  Four additional stage shows were embarked upon in 1995, 1997, 2001 and 2003, each meeting with great success.  The violent nature of these shows saw both Edmondson and Mayall ending up in hospital at various points.  A film version, Guest House Paradiso, was released in 1999. A fourth TV series was also written, but not commissioned by the BBC.  Mayall starred alongside Phoebe Cates in Drop Dead Fred (1991) as the eponymous character, a troublesome imaginary friend who reappears from a woman's childhood.

He also appeared in Carry On Columbus (1992) with other alternative comedians.

Mayall also provided the voice of the character Froglip, the leader of the goblins, in the 1992 animated film adaption of the 1872 children's tale The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald.  In 1993, he appeared in Rik Mayall Presents, three individual comedy dramas.  Mayall's performances won him a Best Comedy Performer award at that year's British Comedy Awards, and a second series of three was broadcast in early 1995.  He provided the voice for Little Sod in Simon Brett's How to Be a Little Sod, written in 1991 and adapted as ten consecutive episodes broadcast by the BBC in 1995.  In the early 1990s, he auditioned for the roles of Banzai, Zazu and Timon in The Lion King (1994); he was asked to audition by lyricist Tim Rice, but the role of Zazu finally went to Rowan Atkinson.

In 1995, Mayall featured in a production of the play Cell Mates alongside Stephen Fry.  Not long into the run, Fry had a nervous breakdown and fled to Belgium, where he remained for several days, and the play closed early.  In 2007, Mayall said of the incident: "You don't leave the trenches ... selfishness is one thing, being a cunt is another.  I mustn't start that war again." Edmondson poked fun at the event during their stage tours.  In Bottom Live: The Big Number Two Tour, after Mayall gave mocking gestures to the audience and insulted their town in a silly voice, Edmondson said, "Have you finished yet?  It's just I'm beginning to understand why Stephen Fry fucked off."  In Bottom Live 2003: Weapons Grade Y-Fronts Tour, after Richie accidentally fondles Eddie, he replies, "I see why Stephen Fry left that play."  Towards the end of the Cell Mates run, Mayall revealed a replica gun— a prop from the play—to a passer-by in the street.  Mayall was cautioned over the incident and later conceded that this was "incredibly stupid, even by my standards."  From 1999, Mayall was the voice of the black-headed seagull Kehaar, in the first and second series of the animated television programme, Watership Down.

In 2000, Mayall lent his voice to the PlayStation and Windows PC video game Hogs of War.  Also that year, Mayall appeared in the video production of Jesus Christ Superstar as King Herod.

He joked in the "making of" documentary, which was included on the DVD release, that "the real reason why millions of people want to come and see this is because I'm in it! Me and Jesus!"  In 2001, Mayall gave an excellent dramatic performance as Lt Daniel Blaney in the episode "The White Knight Stratagem" from the series "Murder Rooms: The Mysteries of the Real Sherlock Holmes."  In 2002, Mayall teamed up with Marks and Gran once more when he starred as Professor Adonis Cnut in the ITV sitcom, Believe Nothing.  However, the sitcom failed to repeat the success of The New Statesman and lasted for only one series.

Following 2003's Bottom: Live tour, Bottom 5: Weapons Grade Y-Fronts, Mayall stated that he and Edmondson would return with another tour.  Shortly thereafter, however, Edmondson told the Daily Mail that he no longer wished to work on Bottom.  This effectively dissolved their quarter century-long partnership.  “I thought it would be fun and Ade thought it would be fun but then he changed his mind.  It’s a shame. Of course I fucking tried to persuade him, but it’s his decision and I respect him for that.” Edmondson claimed they were "too old" to continue portraying the characters.  Edmondson added that since Mayall had recovered from his coma, he was slower on the uptake and it had become more difficult to work with him, citing as well that due to taking medication Mayall had been advised to stop drinking alcohol.  However, Edmondson said that the pair remained very close friends.

Mayall voiced Edwin in the BBC show Shoebox Zoo.  In September 2005, he released an 'in-character' semi-fictionalised autobiography titled Bigger than Hitler, Better than Christ (ISBN 0-00-720727-1).  At the same time, he starred in a new series for ITV, All About George.

In 2006, Mayall reprised the role of Alan B'Stard in the play The New Statesman 2006: Blair B'stard Project, written by Marks and Gran.  By this time B'Stard had left the floundering Conservatives and become a Labour MP.  In 2007, following a successful two-month run in London's West End at the Trafalgar Studios, a heavily re-written version toured theatres nationwide, with Marks and Gran constantly updating the script to keep it topical.  However, Mayall succumbed to chronic fatigue and flu in May 2007 and withdrew from the show.  Alan B'Stard was played by his understudy, Mike Sherman during his hiatus.  Mayall was cast as the poltergeist Peeves in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001), the first of the Harry Potter films, although all of his scenes were cut from the film.  He claimed in his semi-autobiographical book Bigger than Hitler, Better than Christ that he had not been made aware that his scenes had been cut until the full film was officially unveiled at the premiere.

He told the story of this hiring/firing on his second website blog for his film, Evil Calls: The Raven (2008).  For Evil Calls, Mayall's role as Winston the Butler was shot in 2002, when the film was titled Alone in the Dark.  The film was not completed until 2008, and was released under its new 'Evil Calls' title, to distance it from the Alone in the Dark computer game film.


Mayall provided the voice of the Andrex puppy in the UK TV commercials for Andrex toilet paper, and also had a voice part in the UK Domestos cleaning product adverts.  He performed the voice of King Arthur in the children's television cartoon series, King Arthur's Disasters, alongside Matt Lucas from Little Britain who plays Merlin.  Mayall also had a recurring role in the Channel Five remake of the lighthearted drama series, Minder.  In September 2009, Mayall played a supporting role in the British television programme Midsomer Murders—shown on ITV1 and made by Meridian Broadcasting— as David Roper, a recovering party animal and tenuous friend of the families in and around Chettham Park House.


In April 2010, Motivation Records released Mayall's England Football anthem "Noble England" for the 2010 FIFA World Cup which he recorded with Coventry producer Dave Loughran.  On the track Mayall performs an adapted speech from Shakespeare's Henry V.  In June 2010 the official BBC Match of the Day compilation CD (2010 Edition) was released by Sony/Universal featuring Noble England – Track 18, CD2.

In September 2010 an audio book, narrated by Mayall, Cutey and the Sofaguard was released by Digital Download.  The book was written by Chris Wade and released by Wisdom Twins Books.  In this same month Mayall played the voice of Roy's Dad and recorded five episodes of animation.  In November 2010, Mayall provided narrative for five different characters for CDs accompanying children's books published by Clickety Books.  The books aid speech and language development by bombarding the child with troublesome sound targets.  He recorded introductions and narratives for the titles.


On 5 March 2011, Mayall appeared on Let's Dance For Comic Relief in which he came on stage and attacked Ade Edmondson with a frying pan during his performance of The Dying Swan ballet.  Edmondson mentioned backstage that it was the first time in eight years they've done something like that together and claimed Mayall had left his head with a small bump.  In April 2011, Mayall again revived the character of Alan B'Stard to make an appearance in a satirical television advertisement for the No2AV campaign prior to the 2011 voting reform referendum in the UK.  The character is shown being elected under the alternative vote system, then using his newly gained position of power to renege on his campaign promises.  In his personal life, Rik Mayall did not support the alternative vote.  In May of the same year Mayall became the eponymous 'Bombardier' in a TV advertising campaign for Bombardier Bitter in the UK.  The adverts landed broadcaster UKTV Dave in trouble with Ofcom when they were found to breach the Ofcom code for linking alcohol with sexual attractiveness or success.

On 23 August 2012 the BBC announced that Edmondson and Mayall's characters of Richie and Eddie would be returning in 2013 in Hooligan's Island, a television adaptation of their 1997 tour of the same name.  However, on 15 October 2012 Ade Edmondson announced during an interview with BBC radio presenter Mark Powlett that the project was cancelled prior to production as he wished to pursue other interests.  In September 2012 Mayall starred in The Last Hurrah, a six-episode, full-cast audio series that he also co-wrote with Craig Green and Dominic Vince.  In November 2012, Mayall narrated several children's books on the Me Books app, such as The Getaway and Banana! by children's illustrator and author Ed Vere.  In October 2013 he appeared in Channel 4 sitcom Man Down, playing the father of the protagonist, Greg Davies — despite being only ten years older.  Laughing at being cast as the father of Greg Davies’ character – despite being little more than a decade older than him – he quipped: “He’s very tall. That just means I shitted someone very tall. But also that I impregnated someone when I was 12, that’s pretty rock ’n’ roll. Who’s this for – the ­Paedophile Channel?"


Born in Harlow, Essex, to drama teacher parents John and Gillian, Rik Mayall was the second of four children.  When he was three, his family moved to Droitwich Spa, Worcs, where he attended The King’s School before in 1976 going to Manchester University.  There he befriended fellow drama student Ade Edmondson, and when he formed a comedy group called 20th Century Coyote, Rik asked him to join.  He agreed, but only if he signed a contract. Ade said: “And he wrote me out a contract which said something like, ‘I promise it will be horrible and nothing will ever go right. La de da. Rik Mayall.’  He was true to his word.”  In Manchester he also befriended Ben Elton and Lise Meyer – with whom he later co-wrote The Young Ones. During the early years of his career, Rik dated Elise, who went on to become the long-term partner of Angus Deayton.

He married his wife of nearly 30 years, Barbara Robbin, in 1985 and the couple went on to have three children Rosie, 27, Sidney, 25, and Bonnie, 19.  They got together in less-than-ideal circumstances, having embarked on an affair in 1981 which lasted until ‘85.  Rik was still in a relationship with Elise when he discovered Barbara was pregnant, at which point he eloped with her to Barbados.  It transpired that Elise was also pregnant, but she suffered a miscarriage.  In 2002, Rik said that his ex- girlfriend had since forgiven him.He was never short of female ­attention.  He once said: “I’ve always had fan-mail from girls, but I just thought it was rather silly, very flattering, but rather silly.  It just happens when you’re famous.”
(Rik's response to a fan letter requesting an autographed photo)

Rik's one and only tweet: “Opening my very own Twitter to stop another bastard from doing it.  So fuck off; don’t expect to hear from me any time soon. Love Rik x.”


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