Pass Notes No 307: Rik Mayall

by Rik Mayall Interviews And Articles Archive Blog

For The Guardian, 16th December 1993


Comic actor.

Beatnik intellectual

Born in a village with the unlikely name of Matching Tye; went to public school and only just managed to get into Manchester University (“I was too busy snogging”). Awarded the Boris Karloff award for Most Outrageous Ham at a student drama festival. Met Adrian Edmondson and went around with him shouting “We’re going to be stars!”

Apparently to irritate the “right-on-worthies”. Alexei Sayle thinks he’s “an empty-headed bimbo”.

Has he won any awards lately?
Funny you should ask. He won the British Comedy Awards prize for Best TV comic actor, but may have to return it amid allegations that the ballot was rigged because the other contenders — David Jason, Richard Wilson, Chris Barrie, Michael Williams and Neil Pearson — were not considered good enough.

Does he have the comic qualifications to win?
He does. He was part of the original Comic Strip team with Alexei Sayle, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders, starred in the cult series The Young Ones (based, apparently, on student life at Manchester), appeared in The Government Inspector and Waiting For Godot, and played odious Tory MP Alan B’Stard in The New Statesman.

Did be have anyone particular in mind?
He and Ade Edmondson interviewed Michael Portillo as part of the research.

Wasn’t he quite good-looking in The New Statesman?
“I didn’t realise Rik Mayall was so attractive,” wrote one critic. “There are some people who think Michael Heseltine attractive,” Mayall replied cryptically.

Didn’t the series prompt a scandal?
Mayall incited national outrage when he suggested that Prince Charles might be having an affair with Camilla Parker Bowles. Perish the thought . . .

So what’s with the serious stage stuff?
He felt the need to prove he could do it — “Oh! I can cry. I’m brilliant . . . but I don’t want to belittle waving your bottom about on stage.”

That, after all, is what he’s famous for?
True. “Really. I’m not trying to do anything spectacular except to change the fabric of our society and bring down the Government.”

Not to be confused with:
John Mayall, Alan Rickman.

Most likely to say:
Bum. fart, toilet, bollocks, tits. ****, ****, ****.

Least likely to say:
“For in that sleep of death what dreams may come / When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, Must give us pause…”