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British Comedy: The Rik Mayall FAQ v1.43

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Archive-name: tv/british-comedy/rik-mayall
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Version: 1.43

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                         The Rik Mayall FAQ (v1.43)
                         Last updated 25 July 1997
      Created and updated by Andrew Wong (E-mail:


  1. Who is Rik Mayall?
  2. Personal info
  3. What's he done?
        o Television
             + Dangerous Brothers
             + The Young Ones
             + Bottom
             + The New Statesman
             + Blackadder 2 and 4
             + Comic Strip Presents ... Bad News
             + Rik Mayall Presents...
        o Film (updated)
        o Video
        o Theatre (updated)
        o Live - 'Stand up'
        o Book
  4. Other information, anecdotes (updated)
  5. His agent
  6. Contributions and thanks

                             Who is Rik Mayall?
He is one of the best British comedic actors in the U.K., known especially
for his brand of physical, violent yet comedic portrayals. He said himself
once that he preferred to play characters that the audience hated.

He's best known for his roles in The Young Ones, Bottom, The New Statesman
and Rik Mayall Presents...

                               Personal info
Born on 7 Match 1958 in a village called Matching Tye, from an early age
he was interested in drama - his father ran the drama department in a
teacher training college. He went to Kings School, Worcester (a privately
funded "public" school). Despite getting DDN at A-Levels, he went to
Manchester University at 17, and left at the age of 20 in 1978 with a 2:2
degree in Drama. While at Manchester, he met Adrian Edmondson and
apparently the two of them went around together shouting "We're going to
be stars!". He also won the Boris Karloff award for 'Most Outrageous Ham' at
a student drama festival.

Whilst there he, with Adrian Edmondson and three others formed an
improvisational theatre company called 20th Century Coyote, which started out
performing lunchtime theatre and shows entitled "Dead Funny", "Who Is Dick
Treacle?" and "King Ron And His Nubile Daughter"

Mayall toured the United States with the Oxford and Cambridge Shakespeare
Company played Dromio of Syracuse in Comedy Of Errors for three months.

On returning, picked up again with Edmondson, he producing
occasional shows, while working most of a year in a foundry to try to clear
his debts.  They took one show, "Death On The Toilet", to the Edinburgh
Fringe Festival in 1979 and scored a hit, and subsequently took it to the
Comic Strip in Soho. In the show, Mayall played both God and Death with
Edmondson as a man called Edwin. 

They succeeded Hale and Pace at the Woolwich Tramshed, but since most of
their work was, at this stage, deriving from Irish playwright Samuel
Beckett's complex writings, it was largely unintelligible to most audiences.
Trying a totally different tack, they created the manic Dangerous Brothers
and, in addition, Rik developed a character who would recite truly awful

During the Young Ones period (1980-1984), he was going out with co-writer
Lise Meyer, but left her when she was pregnant for his current wife
Barbara, who was a make-up artist. "He refuses to discuss it now, even to
give his side of the story" (source: GQ magazine). He has three children
with Barbara -- the third was born in 1995, and is named Bonnie.

                              What's he done?

The Dangerous Brothers
Teaming up with Adrian Edmondson, this duo comedy act involved the Dangerous
brothers (called Sir Adrian Dangerous and Sir Richard Dangerous,
incidentally) doing, well, dangerous things. One of the programmes included 
The Dangerous Brothers present World of Danger (1985), now available from BBC

The Young Ones
This sitcom set around a group of students made him famous. As well  [Rik]
as co-writing it with Lise Meyer and Ben Elton, he also played 'Rik'
- a middle-class student trying to be a left-wing radical while at the
same time annoying everyone. Students of the 1990s would call him "sad".
Two series of six episodes were made in 1982 and 1984.

The Young Ones FAQ is available on the Web at

Some have called this the sequel to The Young Ones, in that it takes
essentially the two main characters Rik and Vyvyan, updates them, changes
their names and puts them together in a flat somewhere trying to get
girls. Written by Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson, three series have been
made, as well as three stage tours. The script books are available from
Bookpages at

The New Statesman
Rik is a radical right-wing Yorkshire Tory MP, always out to make a quick
buck and a bang at the expense of anyone else. A heavy-handed political
satire, that incited a national outrage when the programme accused Prince
Charles of going out with Camilla Parker-Bowles. Luckily, it still manages
to be funny. Produced by Yorkshire Television, there were four serials and
a 90-minute special.

It has won many awards including the International Emmy Award 1989, the
BAFTA Best Comedy Series for 1990 and at the International Film & TV
Festival of New York in January 1991, it was awarded the Special Craft
Gold Medal for Best Perfomer and Narrator.

A script book of the series is available of the series, ISBN number is 0
233 98797 5, written by Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, and published by
Andre Deutsch. It's available from Bookpages at

Blackadder 1, 2, 4
He's popped up in the various incarnations of Blackadder. He was "Mad
Gerald" in Blackadder 1, a loopy chap no doubt. He was also Lord
Flash-heart in Blackadder 2 (who stole 'Bob' from Blackadder's hand), and
also one of many descendants at Lieutenant Flash-heart in Blackadder 4.
The audio tapes of Blackadder are available from Bookpages at

Comic Strip Presents ... Bad News
Rik was part of a spoof rock band (a bit like Spinal Tap) called Bad News,
which originated on the Comic Strip, but later became a "film" in its' own
right. They released a couple of albums and two videos -- Bad News and More
Bad News.

Rik played Colin (I forget the surname) along with Ade Edmunson who played 
Vim Fuego, Nigel Planer who played Den Dennis, and one other band member
called Spider. It sounds like they had great fun making the album "Bad News". 
As well as songs, there's quite a few funny talk parts, and songs such as
"Cashing in on Christmas" and the excellent "Heavy Metal Farmer" 
("heavy metal pig goes oink oink, heavy metal horse goes neigh, heavy 
metal cow gives me heavy metal milk, I see heavy metal animals all the day").

Rik Mayall Presents...
A series of 1-hour TV films for Granada TV was broadcast in Easter 1993.
The episodes were:

   * Micky Love: He plays a washed-out paranoid game show host
   * Briefest Encounter: Features Amanda Donohoe (the bi-sexual
     leather-jacket lawyer from LA Law, and Liar Liar), as a woman Rik
     picks up at a party and they go to her apartment. They both start
     thinking the other is a potential homicidal maniac...
   * Dancing Queen: with Rik as a rich Southern upper-class bloke on his
     stag night who meets a Yorkshire stripper with a vaguely Lancastrian
     accent played by Helena Bonaham-Carter when his friends put him on a
     one-way train to Scarborough.... Nice, warm, and rather romantic.

This series was released on videotape by Granada Video in the UK, and was
shown on Bravo in the USA.

A second series of RIK MAYALL PRESENTS was shown in February 1995, which I
unfortunately completely missed. These episodes included:

   * The Big One: Rik plays an estate agent who assumes the identity of a
     dead man.
   * Dirty Old Town: Rik is a tramp who, after an unfortunate accident, is
     mistaken for a hot new scriptwriter.
   * Clare De Lune: Rik is a widowed taxi driver who, with his daughter,
     is taken hostage by an attractive young lady.

He has also appeared in:

   * Northern Lights, a 1981 BBC play with Judy Parfitt
   * A Kick up the Eighties as Kevin Turvey - BBC TV
   * Comic Strip Presents.... - series for Channel 4
   * Filthy, Rich and Catflap - BBC TV
   * George's Marvellous Medicine for Jackanory (a BBC TV regular series
     where a guest star sits down and tells the children a story using
     pictures to accompany the reading), 5 episodes
   * The Frog Prince - The Absolute Truth - another Jackanory tale
   * Saturday Live as The Dangerous Brothers - LWT / CH 4
   * Grimm Tales - Series 1 & 2, GRIMMS FAIRY TALES - Initial / Central TV
   * How to be a little sod (voiceover)
   * The Wind in the Willows (voiceover)
   * Wam Bam Strawberry Jam - a poetry series for children

An American Werewolf in London (1981)
Infamous werewolf comedy/horror directed by John Landis. Rik is one of the
Yorkshire yokels in the pub who warn of strange beasties out there... If
this isn't available at your local video store, complain most vehemently!

Shock Treatment (1981)
This unsuccesful sequel to The Rocky Horror Picture Show (wot, they made
one ?!) had Rik in it as Ricki, a male nurse. Directed by Jim Sharman,
it's available on CBS video in the UK.

Drop Dead Fred (1991)
This was his big Hollywood movie, starring opposite Phoebe Cates as her
invisible childhood friend up to no general good. Produced by Working
Title Films, it completely flopped. Some might say deservedly... (though
through no fault of Rik)

Mayall said in a Time Out interview "Mums complained that I had corrupted
their sons and taught them to wipe bogeys on the furniture."

Carry On Columbus (1992)
Rik had a cameo in this lamentable attempt to revive the Carry On movies.
I think he was at the very beginning with Tony Slattery.

Remember Me? (1997)
In a farce from the writer of Clockwise, Rik plays a quietly desperate
husband supported by his wife (Imelda Staunton). One day, old flame Mark
(Robert Lindsay) arrives and turns their suburbia upside-down. Mark is on
the run, the in-laws have arrived, the daughter has her boyfriend up in
the bedroom. The mania ratchets up and things end, as they do, with Uzis
at dawn near Chiswick.

A Film Four production, this received a limited run at the National Film
Theatre before being put on video. For more information, look at the
Internet Movie Database's reference to it at

Guest House Paradiso (unreleased)
Mayall is currently writing a film script with Adrian Edmondson, which will
either be a "polished Peter Sellers-type Clouseau thing or Hope-Crosby-Marx
Brothers stuff".

He has also appeared in:

   * The Eye of The Needle (directed by Richard Marguant, available on
     Warner Home Video UK)
   * Couples and Robbers - a short film directed by Claire Peploe
   * Whoops Apocalypse as an SAS Commander, directed by Tom Busman (1986)
   * Little Noises as Mathius, for Monument Films
   * Eat The Rich (a Comic Strip film directed by Peter Richardson, 1987) 
   * Little Noises (1991)
   * Horse Opera for Initial / Channel 4 productions
   * The Princess and the Goblin (1993 - voice only)
   * Bring me the Head of Mavis Davies (currently shooting, 1997)

A more detailed filmography is available from the Internet Movie Database at

   * Kevin Turvey Investigates... - this is available in the USA from
     Movies Unlimited (1-800-4-Movies), costing US$30
   * Three series of The New Statesman. This is also available in the USA
     from Movies Unlimited, costing US$60 per series set.
   * The Young Ones - available on two sets of two tapes. For more
     information, consult the Young Ones FAQ.
   * Bottom Live, the tape of their stage version of BOTTOM is available
     on PAL format via BBC Enterprises.
   * Bottom Live 2 - THE BIG NO.2 TOUR, the tape of their second stage
     version of Bottom.
   * Ultimate Bottom - the above two tapes on one compilation
   * Bottom Fluff - a collection of mistakes from shooting Bottom
   * Out of my head with Rik Mayall - a video about drugs and drug
     education, costing around ?13
   * Bottom stage tour, with Adrian Edmondson from April to June 1993, and
     again in the autumn of 1995.
   * Man Equals Man as Uriah at the Manchester Contact Theatre
   * The Government Inspector as Khelstakov at the National Theatre
   * The Common Pursuit by Simon Gray (as Nick) at the Phoenix Theatre,
   * Waiting for Godot as Vladimir at the Queens Theatre, Shaftesbury Ave.
   * Cell Mates, with Stephen Fry, again written by Simon Gray, performed
     in February 1995 at the Albery Theatre, London.
   * Bottom: The Big No.2 Tour with Ade Edmondson, performed throughout
     the UK during Autumn 1995.
   * Bottom: Hooligans' Island with Ade Edmondson, performed throughout
     the UK during January 1997.

He also appeared at the Edinburgh Festival in 1979 in a show called DEATH
ON THE TOILET. He was charging ?1 to see it at the time. However, according
to the Festival programme, it's written by Nanker Phelge (a pseudonym used by
the Rolling Stones). In the programme, they write:

     "Twentieth Century Coyote
     Death on the Toilet by Nanker Phelge.

     Where will you be when the day of judgement comes? More to the point -
     what will you be doing? Hmmm. I don't know, but I'm changing my
     underwear regularly just in case. Wouldn't it be embarrassing if you
     died on the .. the er... um... it would be. And what happens when you
     get up there? I mean all the judging and that? Hmmm. I don't know, I
     only hope you can get legal aid."

     "More moving than All-Bran - " B Max.
     "An emotional laxative" - Marjorie Poops (agony aunt)
     "I ran out of paper" - The Times."

And at another point in the program, it says :-

     "Phoenix Festival Co. - Liz - the writers of our 1978 hit
     "The Young Ones"

He also appeared as a character called Jeremy on a 1980s charity concert
(perhaps The Secret Policemen?), attempting to put some place called Wallop
on the map with Billy Connolly, John Cleese etc. He was taking off an old
Vegas Elvis number but with different words in his Young Ones character.
something like:
    I don't wipe my bottom when I go to the loo
    I'm rude to policeman, I pick my nose too
    there's no stopping me cos I'm bloody mad
    I smoke marijauna and I don't go to lectures
    Cos I'm evil - my middle name is Jeremy
    Yeah I'm evil so don't you mess arouuuuund with me!
                             Live - 'Stand up'
in the U.K. and Australia. All tours were sold out.

   * Comic Strip UK 1982
   * Kevin Turvey and Bastard Squad UK 1983
   * Rik Mayall, Ben Elton and Andy De La Tour, Edinburgh Festival and UK
     Tour 1983
   * Rik Mayall and Ben Elton UK 1984
   * Rik Mayall and Ben Elton UK 1985
   * Rik Mayall and Ben Elton Ibitha 1985
   * Rik Mayall and Ben Elton Australia 1986
   * Rik Mayall and Andy De La Tour UK 67 dates 1989
   * Rik Mayall and Andy De La Tour UK March 2 weeks 1990
   * Rik Mayall and Ben Elton UK June 1992

Also, in 1987 he and Ben Elton did a series of stand-up shows in Perth,
Western Australia. According to Des Shaw, Managing Director of Triple M, a
local FM radio station, the shows were at what used to be called Club 242
at the Leederville Hotel in West Perth. During this period, Rik & Ben also
did a one-off evening radio slot at 96FM, during which they played Living
Doll, and did quite a lot of funny stuff live in the studio.

[ Search for any British book with Bookpages - ]

Bachelor Boys:The Young Ones Book
It's a book written by the "gang" and contains tips on how to cheat in
exams, how to spot a French exchange student, the joys on hitch- hiking,
an interview with David Bowie, and nude shots of the boys, including Rik!!

First published in 1984, it was last re-printed in 1989, though there was
an Australian re-print in September 1993. The ISBN number is 0722157657, and
was published by Sphere Books, 27 Wrights Lane, London W8 5TZ, UK.
Unfortunately it's currently out of print, though Bookpages may be able to
source an out-of-print copy for you.

The New Statesman
A script book of the series is available of the series, written by Laurence
Marks and Maurice Gran, and published by Andre Deutsch. The ISBN number is
0233987975, and it's available from Bookpages at

Fat Chance by Simon Gray (ISBN no. 0571177921)
This book concentrates on the behind-the-scenes activities during the
rehersals and performances of the play Cell Mates by Simon Gray. While not
about Rik Mayall, there are some interesting anecdotes concerning him,
including the story of him being arrested in Covent Garden for pulling a cap
gun on a couple of American tourists. The book is available from Bookpages.

Didn't you kill my mother-in-law by Roger Wilmut and Peter Rosengard
As the book is subtitled "The Story of Alternative Comedy in Britain from
The Comedy Store to Saturday Live", it's pretty much essential reading for
anyone who's interested in The Young Ones, and how Rik Mayall (amongst
others) got his start. It does make fascinating reading! 

Unfortunately, it's out of print, though Bookpages may be able to source an
out-of-print copy for you, if you Email them at

                             Other information
Apparently, on one of his stage stand-up appearances, he played a
particularly obnoxious stage character, who was very "hard". In an attempt to
prove how hard he was, he said how he liked to hurt children, and at one
point said something along the lines of tempting children to go into fridges,
whereupon he'd shut the door. Unfortunately, at one particular appearance, a
local child had actually done this -- so upon hearing this line, the audience
was not pleased. Mayall at this point, broke out of character, and said how
sorry he was and didn't mean that bit.
Rik starred with Stephen Fry in the play "Cell Mates" in 1995. Unfortunately,
Stephen Fry made an abrupt departure from the play, and disappeared for a
while which caused great headlines. Mayall himself refuses to talk about this
period, apart from "I'm a friend of both Stephen and the writer Simon Gray,
so I want to go on record that I don't want to take sides ... I know when I
was being great, and I was when I was with Stephen." (quote taken from Time
Out no.1404)

During this time, an incident occured where Mayall ended up pulling a prop
gun on a stranger in Covent Garden after one performance. An armed-response
unit was in the area, and "an incident" could have ensued. Mayall said "It
was a silly mistake. I said 'Do you want some of this, motherfucker?' and he
told the police." (quote taken from Time Out no.1404), and he was asked to
make a statement saying what a bad thing it was to carry replica guns.

                                 His agent
Aude Powell
     The Brunskill Management Limited Suite 8A
     169 Queens Gate
     Tel. (+44) (0) 171 584 8060
     Fax. (+44) (0) 1768 881 850

                          Contributions and thanks
All info taken from press releases and what I've read, with help from Sam
Aitcheson, Chris Bone, Claire Rose, Steve Dowan, Joanna Ferrett, Graham
Hawkins, Jennifer Huebl, Trudy Kamester, Jane Ledger, Greg O'Beirne, J.
Doyle, Rich Johnston and Ryan Mooney. Interview quotes have been taken from
an interview by Bruce Dessau for Time Out no. 1404.  However all mistakes
rest with me !


This file is on the Web at the British Comedy Library -, which also contains the
Young Ones FAQ, the Adrian Edmondson FAQ or the Ben Elton FAQ.

More Web information on Rik Mayall is available from the Internet Movie
Database at, and The Times
Internet Edition at

If you want any British items, I may be able to buy them for you - if it
makes life easier, I can also accept American currency... Please contact
me for more details.

You can throw your comments, brickbats, additions and bouquets via E-mail
to, or take a look at my Web page at

Finally, this FAQ is postcard-ware i.e. if you really liked it then I
would appreciate a postcard from you! The address is:
    10 Gerllan, Tywyn, Gwynedd, LL36 9DE, UNITED KINGDOM

My name is Andrew Wong, thank you and goodnight...

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