© Sweet Chuck Productions
The Velvet Onion is shocked and saddened by the death of Rik Mayall at the age of 56, and would like to extend our sincere condolences to his family and friends.
Rising to fame in the early 1980s as a member of the highly prestigious team behind The Comic Strip Presents, his career began alongside respected contemporaries Nigel Planer, Alexei Sayle, Peter Richardson, Arnold Brown, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Pete Richens and of course, his long-standing comedy partner Adrian Edmondson.
The team were the toast of Soho when they were snapped up by Channel 4 to make a series of comedy shorts for the fledging channel, with the first – sadly not featuring Mayall – appearing on the very first night of Channel 4. However, it was anarchic sitcom The Young Ones which would propel several of the team to superstardom, and continue to be cited as one of the all time comedy greats to this day.
Mayall, Edmondson and Planer followed The Young Ones with the brilliant, but less well received Filthy, Rich & Catflap before Mayall found further success in his own right as Alan Beresford B’Stard MP in political satire The New Statesmen - a role he reprised on stage for a successful UK tour in 2006.
Following a starring role in cult favourite (but box-office bomb) Drop Dead Fred, Mayall and Edmondson regrouped to create the seminal sitcom Bottom - which managed to outclass even The Young Ones at its peak, and become a firm favourite across three series, a string of successful live tours and even a spin-off movie.
Recent years saw a slowing down of mainstream activity, though Mayall was rarely far from our screens due to both repeats of his classic works, and his guest roles in shows like Jonathan Creek and Midsomer Murders. He became the face of Bombardier Bitter for a string of controversial (but hilarious) adverts, and was most recently seen on screens portraying Greg Davies’ father in Channel 4′ sitcom Man Down, produced by TVO regular Spencer Millman.
Since he first graced our screens over three decades ago, Mayall has amused and delighted countless fans of his work, and as TVO can personally attest, he was as far removed from his grotesque characters in real life as could be: a truly charming, polite man, and a true talent that will never be forgotten.
© Rich Hardcastle
The sheer scope of his work is such that we have got this far down the list without mentioning Mad Gerald and Lord Flashheart in Blackadder, his incredible Jackanory telling of George’s Marvellous Medicine, his criminally underrated 1993 series of one-off comedy plays - Rik Mayall Presents, or his early film roles in Shock Treatment and An American Werewolf in London. Let alone his voiceover work for Watership Down, Hogs of War and even Spongebob Squarepants introducing him to a whole new generation, or getting to #1 with Cliff Richard in aid of Comic Relief – a charity which also saw him reunite with Ade Edmondson in 2012 for one last painful hurrah.
An enormous influence on many of our regulars, he leaves behind his wife and three children, and our thoughts are with them and the rest of his family and friends. He shall be missed.
For a selection of initial tweets from TVO reglars about Rik, see below… Continue reading