Talk to Me. I’m Normal…Really!

by Rik Mayall Interviews And Articles Archive Blog

By Steve Clark for TV Quick, 21st – 27th November 1992

He plays the nastiest characters on TV. But the next time you meet him on the train, please say hello.

When Rik Mayall walks down the street, people cross over. That’s if they notice him. He can sit on the tube undisturbed, and when he walks into a pub, no one gives him a second glance .

‘People either tend not to recognise me or they don’t come up to me because they think I’m weird,’ he laughs. ‘They think I’m weird because of the people I’ve played, such as Rick in The Young Ones, Alan B’Stard in The New Statesman and Richard in Bottom.

‘But I’m quite gregarious,’ he adds, ‘so I like people saying hello.’ Rik uses his work as an outlet for his enormous energy and loves playing off-the-wall characters to get it out of his system.

‘I like playing a complete bastard, so I don’t have to be one in real life,’ he grins.

‘Fortunately, over the past 12 years, I’ve been in work pretty constantly. But if, say, two months or more go by without any work, then I start to go a bit wonky. I begin behaving unpredictably, become moody and start feeling unhealthy, so Barbara, my wife, pushes me into getting work.’

Now, after two years away from the role, Rik is back with a vengeance as Alan B’Stard in The New Statesman. He’s up to his usual nasty tricks and womanising from what he calls a ‘God-awful hole in East Germany’.

‘He’s the same old Alan, although his hairline has receded because I’m going bald!’ laughs Rik.

The new object of B’Stard’s desire is German Green MEP Frau Kleist, played by Brigitte Kahn. But Rik says: ‘She’s not really his love interest, because there is never any love interest with Alan, it’s lust interest. And it could be anyone. A cleaning lady could come in and Alan would jump on her, because that’s what he’s like.’

The love interest in Rik’s real life is his painter wife Barbara and their two children, Rosie, six, and four-year-old Sidney.

‘The only responsibility you’ll ever have in your apart from your work, is to your family,’ says Rik. ‘There’s no more: “Oh it doesn’t matter if I lose the house, I’ll just bum around the world in a tent!” That’s not an option any more – thank God, because I don’t want to do it, anyway.

‘It hasn’t happened to me yet, but I would now take a job simply to earn money for my family.’

Rik, 34, has enjoyed tremendous success over the past decade but, despite the fame, he’s determined to keep his feet on the ground. He owns a battered Peugeot 205, but prefers to travel by tube, and continues to shop and go to the pub.

‘I resent the way that, if you are a success in this business, it’s taken as read that it precludes you from leading an ordinary life. I haven’t changed,’ he insists.

Rik’s one break with his idea of being ordinary – not to mention his leftwing views – is sending his kids to private school.

‘Of course it conflicts with my views,’ he says. ‘There ought to be a wonderful state school system, but there isn’t, so I’ve sent the kids to what I think is an excellent school. Education is important. I’m not going to send them to a bad school just so people can say: “Rik’s right on, isn’t he?” It’s my children’s future we’re dealing with.’