Rik Mayall

English comedian, writer and Actor Richard Michael “Rik” Mayall sadly died on 9 June 2014. He was described as a truly brilliant comedian with a unique stage presence whose “Fireball Comedy” and comic approach to sitcom had inspired a generation. born 7 March 1958 Mayall attended The King’s School, Worcester, After which went to the University of Manchester in 1976 to study drama, where he befriended his future comedy partner Ade Edmondson. There he also met Ben Elton, a fellow student, and Lise Mayer, with whom he later co-wrote The Young Ones. His comedy partnership with Adrian Edmondson, and over-the-top, energetic “post-punk” portrayal of characters, made him a pioneer of alternative comedy in the early 1980s. He appeared in numerous cult classic sitcoms, including The Young Ones, Blackadder, The New Statesman and Bottom, and on the big screen in the comedy films Drop Dead Fred and Guest House Paradiso.

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, French and Saunders, Arnold Brown and Pete Richens, setting up their own comedy club called “The Comic Strip”. 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. There was also a mockumentary based on the character entitled Kevin Turvey – The Man Behind The Green Door, broadcast in 1982. He also appeared in a bit role in An American Werewolf in London. His stage partnership with Edmondson continued in”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…, which became known for its anti-establishment humour and parodies suchas Bad News on Tour, a spoof “rockumentary” starring Mayall, Richardson, Edmondson and Planer as a heavy metal band.

The Young Ones, was a sitcom written by Mayall and then-girlfriend Lise Mayer, in the same anarchic vein as Comic Strip. Ben Elton joined the writers. In it 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”) with additional material written and performed by Alexei Sayle. The show owed a comic debt to Spike Milligan. In 1986 Rik Mayall played the Detective in the video of “Peter Gunn” by Art Of Noise featuring Duane Eddy.

Mayall returned to stand-up comedy, performing on Saturday Live—a British version of the American Saturday Night Live—first broadcast in 1985. He and Edmondson had a regular section as “The Dangerous Brothers”, and in 1985, Mayall debuted another comic creation -Lord Flashheart in the Blackadder II episode entitled “Bells”. A descendant of this character, Squadron Commander Flashheart, was also in the Blackadder Goes Forth episode “Private Plane” in which he was reunited with Edmondson, who played German flying ace Baron von Richthofen the “Red Baron”, 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 highlighted the “has been” status of light entertainment. 1987 saw Mayall co-star with Edmondson in the ITV sitcom Hardwicke House and score a number one hit 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 and also gave a memorably crazed portrayal in Roald Dahl’s George’s Marvellous Medicine.

In 1987, Mayall played fictional Conservative MP Alan Beresford B’Stard in the sitcom The New Statesman and, 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 1991, Edmondson and Mayall co-starred in the West End production of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, with Mayall playing Vladimir, Edmondson as Estragon and Christopher Ryan as Lucky. This inspired Bottom, which they said was a cruder cousin to Waiting for Godot and featured slapstick violence taken to new extremes. 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.

In 1991 Mayall starred alongside Phoebe Cates in Drop Dead Fred as a troublesome imaginary friend who reappears from a woman’s childhood. He also appeared in Carry On Columbus (1992) with other alternative comedians and 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, for which he won a Best Comedy Performer award at that year’s British Comedy Awards, He also provided the voice for Little Sod in Simon Brett’s How to Be a Little Sod. In the early 1990s, he auditioned for the roles of Banzai, Zazu and Timon in The Lion King (1994); 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, Edmondson later poked fun at the event during the stage tours. Bottom Live: The Big Number Two Tour, And Bottom Live 2003: Weapons Grade Y-Fronts Tour. 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 and appeared in the video production of Jesus Christ Superstar as King Herod. 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 starred as Professor Adonis Cnut in the ITV sitcom, Believe Nothing. Following 2003’s Bottom: Live tour, Bottom 5: Weapons Grade Y-Fronts, Edmondson told the Daily Mail that he no longer wished to work on Bottom claiming 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 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, In which B’Stard leaves 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, 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 And Played Winston the Butler in the film Evil Calls: The Raven (2008). Mayall also provided the voice of the Andrex puppy in the UK Andrex TV commercials and narrated the UK Domestos 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. In September 2009, Mayall played a supporting role in the British television programme Midsomer Murders, In April 2010, Motivation Records released Mayall’s England Football anthem “Noble England” for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which features an adapted speech from Shakespeare’s Henry V. In September 2010 he narrated an audio book, Cutey and the Sofaguard written by Christ Wade and In November 2010, Mayall provided narrative for five different characters for CDs accompanying children’s books published by Clickety Books. Then On 5 March 2011, Mayall appeared with Ade Edmonson on Let’s Dance For Comic Relief then 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. On 23 August 2012 the BBC announced that Edmondson and Mayall’s characters of Richie and Eddie returned in 2013 in Hooligan’s Island. In September 2012 Mayall starred in The Last Hurrah, and 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 also appeared in Channel 4 sitcom Man Down,

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