Today is a sad day for fans of British comedy and TV. Comedian and actor Rik Mayall has died this morning, according to his management company.
To me, he was Rick or Richie from The Young Ones or Bottom, and to many others, Mayall was Kevin Turvey (my wife knew him simply as “Drop Dead Fred”). There are some who hold his two appearances in Blackadder as the high point of the show’s four series and two specials.
No one is wrong. Put simply, Mayall was an utter, utter, utter genius. Able to bring energetic anarchy to shows as conservative as Midsomer Murders (2009’s “The Creeper”) and the one good thing about Carry On Columbus (Jim Dale aside), he started off as a pioneer of the alternative comedy scene in the 1980s with his performing partner Adrian Edmondson, forming The Dangerous Brothers at university in Manchester before going on to star together in The Young Ones with Nigel Planer, Christopher Ryan and Alexei Sayle, and spinning off into Bottom and its movie version Guest House Paradiso. Throw in appearances in The Comic Strip Presents…, Filthy Rich and Catflap and his superb turn as opportunistic Tory MP Alan B’Stard in The New Statesman and you have a body of situation comedy work that is largely unparalleled. More recently, Mayall appeared as the father of fat-a-like Greg Davies in the recent Channel 4 series Man Down.
Many tributes have been published already, found in online newspapers and on Twitter. Most important, I think you’ll agree, is the quote from his long-running comedy partner Ade Edmondson:
“There were times when Rik and I were writing together when we almost died laughing. They were some of the most carefree, stupid days I ever had, and I feel privileged to have shared them with him.
“And now he’s died for real. Without me. Selfish bastard.”
Mayall will, it seems, be almost universally missed:
Very sad to hear of the passing of Rik Mayall. Far too young. A very funny and talented man.
— Eric Idle (@EricIdle) June 9, 2014
So shocked to hear about Rik Mayall. A wonderfully funny icon of British comedy.
— Jack Dee (@TheRealJackDee) June 9, 2014
Crossing the Atlantic with wifi. Simply distraught to hear of the death of Rik Mayall. An authentic comedy genius and a prince among men.
— Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) June 9, 2014
And let’s not forget this:
— David James (@StortSkeptic) June 9, 2014
The best we can do, dear reader, is remember the legend of Rik Mayall in these superb clips…
And finally, from Man Down in 2013.
Greg Davies said today:
“He was my comedy hero. I could not believe that I got the opportunity to work with him and did not stop pinching myself throughout the filming. He was hilarious, warm and passionate on and off camera and being in his presence was always humbling.”