Rik Mayall – My Accident Could Have Been Worse – I Could Have Killed My Daughter

by Rik Mayall Interviews And Articles Archive Blog

For Bella Magazine, 19th October 1999

But for a few drops of rain, Rik Mayall’s daughter might have been on his quad-bike when he crashed

Rik Mayall is older – witness the strakes of grey in his long dark blonde hair – and a lot wiser. “I’ll never ride a quad bike again,” he vows.

However, despite his close call with death in the freak accident on his Devon farm last year, Rik has yet to junk the dangerous machine.

“I regularly go into the garage where it’s stored,” he confesses. “I walk around, growling and occasionally kicking it.

“I should have known better,” he continues. “When I was about 17, my father had a motorbike. I was always asking if I could ride it and he always refused. I even asked for one of my own, but he absolutely put his foot down.”

“When I asked why, he said: ‘Because you’ll fall off it at some point’.

“Well, I thought: ‘I’ll show him’. And of course, years later, I bought a quad bike and, to fulfil his prophecy, fell off it… and nearly died of head injuries as a result.”

Rik claims now to be back on good health, with new projects springing up all over the place. But the near-death experience has caused him to think a great deal about life, about what he really cares about.

“I think a lot about how near I came to killing my little daughter, Bonnie, and her friend,” he reveals. “A quad bike has four wheels and is large enough to take passengers, so they wanted a ride. As I took it out of the garage, three spots of rain fell on my arm and I thought : ‘I don’t want the kids to get wet.’ So I refused them.

“I’d just got down to Devon after a lot of work, finishing a film with Stephen Fry, and I wanted to get out in some fresh air. I knew the rain wouldn’t hurt me, but I didn’t fancy the kids getting soaked. My decision saved their lives.

“I remember nothing about the accident. My mind is a total blank. I’ll be on medication for the rest of my life, I know that now. But what are a few pills if they keep me stable and adjusted?

“Not so long ago, I foolishly thought I was doing well and could maybe give up the pills. Then, one day, I was in the recording studio doing a voiceover for something when I had a seizure – a minor epileptic fit. I bit right through my tongue!”

This was a month before Rik was due to start recording his comeback TV project, Guest House Paradiso, in which he teams up once again with his co-star from The Young Ones and Bottom, Ade Edmondson.

“The basic idea is that Eddie and Richie, the central characters from Bottom, are now running a guest house,” explains Rik about the drama the BBC will be screnning this Autumn.

Rik remains ‘deeply impressed and moved’ by the amount of sympathy and affection that poured in from friends and public after the accident.

“It was all heartwarmingly affirmative and I’m very grateful for that,” he says. “When I finally got out and about again, I got shouts in the streets from complete strangers of ‘Good luck, mate!’, which was very touching indeed.

“I come from a generation who thought it was very cool to be cynical, and to have that amount of very genuine love directed at you, well… I just thank God every day that I’m so bloody lucky to be alive.”

He adds quietly: “I think that, in a way, I was very spoilt before and didn’t realise what I had going for me. Since the accident, I’ve become far more appreciative than I ever was before.”