And so it’s farewell to wonderful Rik Mayall, one of the brightest, most hysterical, anarchic and outrageous of the Eighties breed of comic actors who, for many like me, personified British comedy during our formative years.
But it’s a hard fact to accept – that Mayall, just 56, is gone. He blasted onto our screens like a whirlwind of energy and profanity in The Young Ones, the Dangerous Brothers, Filthy, Rich and Catflap, The New Statesman, Blackadder and Bottom, almost always in cahoots with pal and partner Ade Edmondson.
Few could touch Mayall when he was in full flow. The wit and insults flew equally, the gurning and high volume of his rants a pure partnership borne of sharp scripting and an acute understanding of the physicality of comedy.
He is the first of that band to die, leaving his work and legacy to be pored over by fans and explorers of ’80s TV. As he grew older he appeared to leave behind much of the frenetic style that had been his trademark. We will never enjoy seeing Mayall ease into old age and the notion of a Young Ones reunion will now never happen.
I met him only once, at a press conference for the execrable Guest House Paradiso, made with Edmondson. It was far from their best work and they seem to have drifted professionally in recent years. But I’m glad I met him. Because he was a genuine one-off, a nice man and, most importantly for me, a very, very, funny one.
It’s truly the end of an era. And terribly, terribly sad.