Rik Mayall, a British comedian with the energy of the Tasmanian Devil in a Looney Tunes cartoon, famous for such programmes as The Young Ones, Bottom, Blackadder and The New Statesman is dead. He was 56.
As regular readers know, I won’t go into great depth about his early life and career. There’ll be plenty of obituaries in Newspapers and on telly and you can find out all about him in Wikipedia (probably). I’ll just give you my experience of him, in video clips, as a (very) happy viewer.
I was introduced to Rik through a character called Kevin Turvey, an odd, anarchic man-child with a Birmingham accent (at least to my London-centric ears) who ‘investigates’ aspects of daily living like work, leisure, sex and the media. He could talk utter nonsense, and usually did, but he was mesmerising. I was bewitched by his charisma, so I was.
Next, was The Young Ones. Anyone who has ever been a student will recognise the characters. One of them may have been you – and that would be a terrifying thing to admit. They were part of the alternative comedy scene that left the old school comics like Bernard Manning and Jimmy Tarbuck in the dust. They ripped up the rulebook, stamped on it, then set it on fire.
Blackadder was a very popular comedy show in the 1980s. Edmund Blackadder, played by Rowan Atkinson and Baldrick, played by Tony Robinson, were the two constant main characters in the show as each series moved to a different period in history, from the Middle Ages, to World War I. Rik played Flashheart, who was a ladies man with an ego as big as a house. He would only make small appearances in each series, but he stole the show whenever he was on. Once seen, never forgotten.
Alan B’Stard. A more appropriate name for a character would be hard to find. He was a Conservative minister in The New Statesman, a late 80s satire on the Thatcher government. A manipulative and conniving man, his only true love was himself. There were so many clips to choose from, but I landed on this one. It’s too close to what many of us believe our current government is trying to do. He truly is a B’Stard.
I’m not going to add Bottom to this, because I didn’t like it, but I’ll put this one up instead. This is one of his final TV roles, playing the nightmare father of the main character (played by Greg Davies) in the recent Channel 4 comedy Man Down.
I hope you’ve enjoyed watching these clips. He was quite brilliant and will be sorely missed. R.I.P Rik. You can have a rest now.