Three for the Show

by Rik Mayall Interviews And Articles Archive Blog

For Radio Times, 3rd – 9th January 1987

No, it’s not Son of Young Ones, but Rik, Adrian and Nigel are still aiming at the funny bone. John McCready hears it’s all about paternity suits, dead milkmen and TV stars.

Do you still enjoy working together? ‘No. We hate each other,’ Adrian Edmondson deadpans. ‘We never did like each other,’ offers Nigel Planer. Do you get on each other’s nerves then? ‘No, not these days,’ says Rik Mayall who is wearing a Tshirt that tells the world he is an idiot. ‘It’s not as dramatic as that. You have an argument over something and ten minutes later, it’ll be forgotten. We’re like brothers and sisters.’

They are still perhaps best known to lovers of violence and bad taste as Rick, Vyvyan and Neil, three of the four young Ones. Now for the new BBC2 series Filthy, Rich and Catflap, they are transformed into three down-at-heel celebrities, lost in the unreal world of the bow-tie and the golfing sweater. ‘They take TV-am seriously, believing it to be one of the greatest things,’ explains Rik. ‘They also think Jimmy Tarbuck is god and if you believe that then you’re off…’

Adrian says the characters arose from nicknames. ‘We’ve called Rik Richie Rich for a long time. I’m Eddie because of Edmondson and Nigel’s Filthy because he’s always smelly.’

‘Richie’s last job was doing the links on TVS in 1972,’ Rik offers. ‘Now I’m doing the occasional commercial. Eddie’s my minder and Filthy Ralph’s my agent. We just get into lots of scrapes. In one show, a paternity suit has been filed against me. Also I’ve just killed several milkmen. So we have to sort all that out.’

Director Paul Jackson, partly responsible for a string of comedy hits like The Two Ronnies, Carrott’s Lib, Three Of A Kind and Happy Families, (like Filthy, Rich, scripted by Ben Elton), admits that the new show is slightly more conventional than The Young Ones. Though ending the happy lives of several whistling milkmen doesn’t sound too conventional.

‘In a way it’s just a straight sitcom,’ Paul says. ‘A lot of it is just two or three people sitting in a room and talking. It’s a refreshing change for all of us. And yet with people like Rik and Ben involved, it isn’t going to be too straight.’

One script is based around a quiz show called Ooh er, Sounds A Bit Rude, while other episodes will make use of performers like the Nolans, Anne Diamond, Barbara Windsor and Mel Smith as Jumbo Whiffy, Head of Nice Entertainment at the television company where Richie crawls for work. A Very Famous Pop Star will also be doing something embarrassing…

‘We thought we couldn’t top the second series of  The Young Ones,’ says Adrian. ‘We would simply have repeated ourselves. But now the audience expectation is so high. There was no audience expectation before the first series of The Young Ones – so it just makes it harder.

‘The public assumes you’re supremely confident of your talent to amuse. But none of us are.’ Rik says: ‘We want the series to stand on its own rather than have it hyped as Son of Young Ones.’ ‘The aim is to make people laugh, that’s all,’ adds Adrian.