- Category : Comedian
- Type : GP
- Profile : 5/2 - Heretical / Hermit
- Definition : Split - Small (21)
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Dominion 1
Richard Michael "Rik" Mayall (born 7 March 1958) is 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.
Mayall, the second of four children, was born in Harlow, Essex to John and Gillian Mayall. He has 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 Victoria 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.
Edmondson and Mayall gained their reputation at the Comedy Store, from 1980. The double act, "20th Century Coyote", became popular. 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 compere 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 Revue Bar, a strip club. Mayall's popularity led to a regular slot for Kevin Turvey on A Kick Up the Eighties, first broadcast in 1981. He appeared as "Rest Home" Ricky in Richard O'Brien's Shock Treatment, 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 in 1977 along with Johnathan PP Seller 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. Mayall also made a cameo appearance in the 1983 gothic horror film, The Keep directed by Michael Mann. 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.
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 material written and performed by Alexei Sayle. The first series was successful and a second was commissioned 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." In 1986 Rik Mayall played the Detective in the Video of Peter Gunn by Art Of Noise Featuring Duane Eddy.
Becoming a household name
Mayall continued to work on The Comic Strip films. He returned to standup, starring 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 Black Adder in 1983 as "Mad Gerald". He returned to play 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 Edmonson, 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 Filthy Rich & Catflap as Richie Rich in what was billed as a follow-up to The Young Ones. The idea of "Filthy Rich and Catflap" was in reaction to comments Jimmy Tarbuck made about the "Young Ones". The series primary focus was to highlight the "has been" status of light entertainment. While Mayall received positive critical reviews, viewing figures were poor and the series was never repeated on the BBC.
In later years, release on video, DVD and repeats on UK TV found a following. Mayall suggested the series did not last because he was uncomfortable acting in an Elton project, when they had been co-writers on The Young Ones. 1987 saw Mayall co-star with Edmondson in the ITV sit-com Hardwicke House. Due to adverse reaction of press and viewers, ITV withdrew the series after two episodes. The same year, Mayall had a number one hit in the UK Singles charts when he and his co-stars from The Young Ones teamed with Cliff Richard to record "Living Doll" for the inaugural Comic Relief campaign. Mayall played Rick one last time in the stage show and has supported the Comic Relief cause ever since. He appeared on the children's television series Jackanory. His crazed portrayal of Roald Dahl's George's Marvellous Medicine proved memorable. However, the BBC received complaints "with viewers claiming both story and presentation to be both dangerous and offensive."
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 the early 1990s Mayall starred in humorous adverts for Nintendo games and consoles. With money from the ads, he bought his house in London which he calls "Nintendo Towers".
In 1991, Edmondson and Mayall co-starred in the West End production of Beckett's Waiting for Godot at the Queen's Theatre. 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. Four additional stage shows were embarked upon in 1995, 1997, 2001 and 2003, each to great success. The violent natures of these shows saw both Edmondson and Mayall ending up in hospital at various points. A film version, Guest House Paradiso, was released in 1999. A fourth TV series was also written, but not commissioned by the BBC.
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. In 1991 he played Vladimir in Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot at the Queen's Theatre in the West End, alongside Edmondson (Estragon) and Christopher Ryan (Lucky). Mayall also provided the voice of the character Froglip, the leader of the goblins, in the 1992 animated film adaption 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. In the early 1990s, he auditioned for the roles of Banzai, Zazu and Timon in The Lion King. He was asked to audition by lyricist Tim Rice. The role of Zazu finally went to his Blackadder co-star Rowan Atkinson.
In 1995 Mayall co-starred in a production of the play Cell Mates, alongside Stephen Fry. Not long into the run, Fry had a nervous breakdown and fled to Belgium, where he remained for several days, and the play closed. In 2007, Mayall said of the incident: "You don't leave the trenches ... selfishness is one thing, being a cunt is another. I mustn't start that war again." Edmondson poked fun at the event during their stage tours. In Bottom Live: The Big Number Two Tour, after Mayall gave mocking gestures to the audience and insulted their town in a silly voice, Edmondson said "Have you finished yet? It's just I'm beginning to understand why Stephen Fry fucked off." In Bottom Live 2003: Weapons Grade Y-Fronts Tour, after Richie accidentally fondles Eddie, he replies "I see why Stephen Fry left that play." Towards the end of Cell Mates Mayall revealed a replica gun – a prop from the play – to a passer-by in the street. He was cautioned over the incident. Mayall later conceded that this was "incredibly stupid, even by my standards". Since 1999, Mayall was the voice of the black-headed seagull Kehaar in the first and the second season of the animated television series Watership Down.
In 2000, Mayall lent his voice to the PlayStation and Windows PC video game Hogs of War. Also that year, Mayall appeared in the video production of Jesus Christ Superstar as King Herod. He joked in the "making of" documentary, which was included on the DVD release, that "the real reason why millions of people want to come and see this is because I'm in it! Me and Jesus!" In 2002, Mayall teamed up with Marks and Gran once more when he starred as Professor Adonis Cnut in the ITV sitcom, Believe Nothing. However, the sitcom failed to repeat the success of The New Statesman and lasted only one series. 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. Edmondson claimed they were "too old" to continue portraying the characters. Edmondson added that, since Mayall had recovered from his coma, he was slower on the uptake and it had become more difficult to work with him, as well as citing that due to taking medication, Mayall had been advised to stop drinking alcohol. However, Edmondson said that the pair remained very close friends.
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. Alan B'Stard was played by his understudy, Mike Sherman during his hiatus.
Mayall was cast as the poltergeist Peeves in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, the first of the Harry Potter films in 2001, although all of his scenes were cut from the film. He claimed in his semi-autobiographical book "Bigger than Hitler, Better than Christ" that he had not been made aware that his scenes had been cut until the full film was officially unveiled at the premiere. He tells the story of this hiring/firing on his second website blog for his 2008 film, Evil Calls: The Raven. For Evil Calls, he shot his role as Winston the Butler in 2002, when the film was titled Alone in the Dark. The film was not completed until 2008 and was released under its new 'Evil Calls' title to distance itself from the Alone in the Dark computer game film. He may appear in a possible sequel. Mayall provides the voice of the Andrex puppy in the UK TV commercials for Andrex toilet paper, and also has a voice part in the UK Domestos cleaning product adverts. He performs the voice of King Arthur in the children's television cartoon series King Arthur's Disasters, alongside Matt Lucas (Little Britain) who plays Merlin. Mayall also had a recurring role in the Channel Five remake of the lighthearted drama series, Minder.
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.
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 cult 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:Jake the Achy Snake, Corky the Squawky Hawk, Erica the Picky Chicken, Lucky the Plucky Duck and Jacqueline the Black Alpaca. The books are written by Craig Green and illustrated by Sarah-Leigh Wills. The recordings were produced by Matt Bernard and Jay Auborn at the Deep Blue Sound studio in Plymouth.
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. Edmondson mentioned backstage that it was the first time in eight years they've done something like that together and claimed Mayall had left his head with a small bump.
In April 2011, Mayall again revived the character of Alan B'Stard to make an appearance in a satirical television advertisement for the No2AV campaign prior to the 2011 voting reform referendum in the UK. The character is shown being elected under the alternative vote system, then using his newly gained position of power to renege on his campaign promises. In his personal life, Rik Mayall does not support the alternative vote. In May of the same year Mayall became the eponymous 'Bombardier' in a TV advertising campaign for Bombardier Bitter in the UK, arguably reviving his Lord Flashheart persona from the UK TV series Blackadder. The adverts landed broadcaster UKTV Dave in trouble with Ofcom when they were found to breach the Ofcom code for linking alcohol with sexual attractiveness or success.
On 23 August 2012 the BBC announced that Edmondson and Mayall's characters of Richie and Eddie would be returning in 2013 in Hooligan's Island, a television adaptation of their 1997 tour of the same name.
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 he had pulled out of the new series of Hooligan's Island after problems with his relationship with Rik.
Since 1985 Mayall has been married to Scottish make-up artist Barbara Robbin, with whom he has 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. At the time, Mayall was in a long-term relationship with Lise Mayer. Mayall and Robbin embarked on a secret affair which lasted until 1985. Mayall and Robbin immediately eloped to Barbados. Mayer would later suffer a miscarriage. Mayall maintains that, despite a longstanding feud, he and Mayer are now friends.
Quad bike accident
On 9 April 1998, Mayall was injured after crashing a quad bike near his home in Devon. Mayall's daughter Bonnie and her cousin had asked him to take them for a ride on the bike – a Christmas gift from his wife – but he refused due to rain, and went alone. Mayall's wife Barbara looked out the window and saw him lying on the ground with the bike. Believing he was joking she initially left him for a few minutes. 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.
After five days doctors felt it safe to bring Mayall back to consciousness. In his 2005 spoof biography, Mayall claims he "rose from the dead". During Mayall's hospitalisation, the Comic Strip special Four Men in a Car was broadcast for the first time. The film involves Mayall's character being hit by a car. Mayall returned to work with voice-over work. His first post-accident job was in the 1998 Jonathan Creek Christmas special, as DI Gideon Pryke. Mayall and Edmondson have joked about this event in stage versions of Bottom, Edmondson quipping: 'If only I'd fixed those brakes properly'. The pair wrote the first draft of their feature film Guest House Paradiso while Mayall was hospitalised. They planned to co-direct but Edmondson took on the duties himself.
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 91.