Rik Mayall - Comic Actor

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
Comic Actor

Richard Michael "Rik" Mayall (7 March 1958 – 9 June 2014) was an English comedian, writer and actor.
Mayall is best known for his comedy partnership with Adrian Edmondson, his over-the-top, energetic portrayal of characters, and as a pioneer of alternative comedy in the early 1980s.
He appeared in numerous sitcoms including 'The Young Ones', 'Blackadder', 'The New Statesman', and 'Bottom'; and the big screen in comedy films 'Drop Dead Fred' and 'Guest House Paradiso'.

Early Life

Rik Mayall - age 17
Richard Michael "Rik" Mayall - 1981
Mayall, the second of four children, was born in Harlow, Essex to John and Gillian Mayall.
He had an older brother, Anthony, and two younger sisters, Libby and Kate.
When Mayall was three years old, he and his parents - who taught drama - moved to Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire, where he spent the rest of his childhood, and performed in his parents' plays.
After attending The King's School, Worcester, Mayall went to the University of Manchester in 1976 to study drama, where he befriended his future comedy partner Ade Edmondson.
He also met Ben Elton and Lise Mayer, with whom he later co-wrote 'The Young Ones'.

'The Young Ones' and 'The Comic Strip'

Edmondson and Mayall gained their reputation at the Comedy Store, from 1980.
Apart from performing in their double act, '20th Century Coyote', Mayall also 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 compère Alexei Sayle, and other upcoming comedians, including Nigel Planer, Peter Richardson, French and Saunders, Arnold Brown and Pete Richens, to set up their own comedy club called "The Comic Strip" in the Raymond Revuebar, a strip club.
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 entitled '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, 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 2 November 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.

Rick Mayall - 'The Young Ones'
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, less satisfactory 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 Spike Milligan, but Milligan was disapproving of Mayall, and 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."
What Milligan didn't realise when he wrote this was that, after the 'Goons', he was one of the worst comedians on the British scene.
In 1986 Rik Mayall played the Detective in the video of "Peter Gunn" by Art Of Noise featuring Duane Eddy.

Later Career
Rik Mayall - Mad Gerald - Blackadder

Mayall continued to work on 'The Comic Strip' films.
He returned to stand-up, 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", their earlier stage act.
In 1985, Mayall debuted another comic creation.
He had starred in the final episode of the first series of 'Blackadder' (1983) as "Mad Gerald". 

Rik Mayall - Lord Flashheart
He returned to play one of his finest characters, Lord Flashheart, in the Blackadder II episode entitled "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 with Planer, Edmondson and Elton to star in ill-fated and poorly written 'Filthy Rich & Catflap', as Richie Rich in what was billed as a follow-up to 'The Young Ones'.
He also appeared on the children's television series 'Jackanory'.
His crazed portrayal of Roald Dahl's George's 'Marvellous Medicine' proved memorable.

Rik Mayall - 'The New Statesman'
In 1987, Mayall played fictional Conservative MP Alan Beresford B'Stard in the sitcom 'The New Statesman' for Yorkshire Television, written by Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran.
The character was a satire 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 a success critically and in 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 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.

Rik Mayall - 'Bottom'
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 1991–95.
Mayall starred as "Richard 'Richie' Richard" alongside Edmondson's "Eddie Elizabeth Hitler". 
The series featured slapstick violence taken to new extremes.
The series 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' was a commercial success, filling large venues.

Rik Mayall - 'Guest House Paradiso'
Four additional stage shows were embarked upon in 1995, 1997, 2001 and 2003, each to great success.
A film version, 'Guest House Paradiso', was released in 1999.

Rik Mayall - 'Drop Dead Fred'
Mayall starred alongside Phoebe Cates in 1991's 'Drop Dead Fred' as the eponymous character, a troublesome imaginary friend reappearing 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 adaptation 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 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 10 consecutive episodes broadcast on the BBC in 1995.

Rik Mayall - Kehaar - Watership Down
Since 1999, Mayall was the voice of the black-headed seagull Kehaar in the first and the second series of the animated television programme 'Watership Down'.
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 nearly 30-year partnership.
Mayall voiced Edwin in the BBC show 'Shoebox Zoo'.
He released an 'in-character' semi-fictionalised autobiography in September 2005, entitled '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'.
Mayall reprised the role of Alan B'Stard in 2006 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. 
Following a successful two month run in London's West End at the Trafalgar Studios in 2007, 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. 
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.

Rik Mayall - Audi Books
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 5 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'. 
In September 2012 Rik starred in 'The Last Hurrah'; a six-episode, full-cast audio series that he also co-wrote with Craig Green and Dominic Vince.
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 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, although only 10 years older than Greg.


Rik Mayall and Barbara Robbin
Mayall married Scottish make-up artist Barbara Robbin in 1985, and the couple had three children: Rosie (born 1986), Sidney (born 1988) and Bonnie (born 18 September 1995).
The couple met in 1981 while filming 'A Kick Up the Eighties' and embarked on a secret affair which lasted until 1985.
At the time, Mayall was in a long-term relationship with Lise Mayer.
Upon finding out Mayer was pregnant, Mayall eloped to Barbados with Barbara Robbin.
Mayer would later suffer a miscarriage.
Mayall later maintained that, despite a long-standing feud, he and Mayer were friends.
On 9 April 1998, Mayall was injured after crashing a quad bike near his home in Devon
He was in a coma for several days
Mayall was airlifted to Plymouth's Derriford Hospital, with two haematomas and a fractured skull.
During the following 96 hours, Mayall was kept sedated to prevent movement which could cause pressure on his brain.
His family was warned he could die or have brain damage.


Rik Mayall died on the morning of 9 June 2014.

His death was announced by his management team.

In the 2005 poll the Comedians' Comedian, Mayall was voted among the top 50 comedy performers of all time.
In 2008, Mayall was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters (DLitt) from the University of Exeter.
In the 2010 poll "Top 100 Stand-Up Comedians", Mayall was placed 91st.

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