After the Bike Crash I Didn’t Wake Up Until Easter Monday…It was My Second Coming
by Rik Mayall Interviews And Articles Archive Blog
By Oliver Harvey for The Sun, 8th December 2000
Rik Mayall stands on the bar with his trousers around his ankles, flashing V-signs and screaming obscenities.
It is a sure sign that the star of Bottom and The Young Ones is back to his bonkers best after the accident that almost killed him.
Rik narrowly escaped death when he suffered severe head injuries in a quad bike accident in 1998.
Then last year he was back in hospital after a relapse when he blacked out during a fit.
Now on the mend, he is back in the big time after landing the role of Peeves the poltergeist in the new Harry Potter film.
Next year he will be seen opposite Naked Gun star Leslie Nielsen in the comedy movie Kevin Of The North.
He can soon be seen in the film Merlin: The Return and is currently appearing in Richmond, Surrey, touring in the play A Family Affair, where he larked around for The Sun.
He says: “I feel brilliant. Life is great. The whole thing has given me a new lease on life.”
Despite being 42 and a dad of three, Rik still has the attention span of a five-year-old and a repertoire of smutty jokes to do a teenage boy proud.
Although he has regained his health, he is taking anti-epilepsy pills to prevent further fits which means no boozing.
Asked if he had missed drinking since the accident, he jokes: “Well, not immediately after I fell off the bike because I was f***ing unconscious.
“I actually feel really healthy without the booze but the time will come when I can get s**t-faced. I did like to party.”
Rik fell off the quad bike — a present from wife Barbara while driving during an Easter break at their Devon farm.
He now jokes about the crash which doctors thought at the time could leave him permanently braindamaged.
He says: “It was the day before Good Friday — the family now call it Cr*p Thursday.
“I didn’t come round until Monday lunchtime — so it was the second coming of Rik.
“The bike is still in a shed. I might ritually burn it.”
Rik is sure the crash won’t stop him working and says: “The play I’m doing now has some quite complicated dialogue.
“It has taken me some time to be confident of my lines. But I’ve never dried up on stage.”
Rik has become one of the country’s best-loved comics. Alongside comedy partner Ade Edmondson he has starred as grubby student Rick in The Young Ones, Bottom’s Richard and Richie Twat in the film Guest House Paradiso.
He says he has been addicted to performing since he won over an audience aged five. He recalls: “It was a school carol concert and I was told not to sing by the teacher because my voice wasn’t very nice. I was told to mime along. I did it in my own style and got a few laughs from the audience.
“The headmaster then took me into a corner, so I started making faces at the audience from there and got more laughs. I thought, ‘Hey, I like this,’ and I’ve been hooked ever since.”
Born in Harlow, Essex, Rik — whose parents were both drama teachers — got a free place at fee-paying King’s School in Worcester. From there he went to Manchester University, where he met Ade and Young Ones cowriter Ben Elton.
TV’s The Young Ones, about a houseful of students, was full of slapstick violence and toilet humour.
Rik and Ade, as Eddie, continued in the same comic vein with the series Bottom.
He admits: “Yes, I’ve got a lot of mileage from bum jokes. Ade and I do what we want to do. I think our audience likes it.”
Of Ade, who was at his bedside as he battled for life, Rik says: “He is able to make me perform like no one else can. Ade is my friend, he’s my partner, we love each other.”
The pair are currently promoting the video release of the Guest House Paradiso, which carries on from Bottom.
He says the comic partnership will not be growing old gracefully. “Ade and I always looked forward to getting old. Richie and Eddie will always be together. We’ll stay the same but the gags will be about not being very well, or our eyesight going. Well be two nasty, angry, violent, horny, unpleasant men.”
Rik and Barbara live most of the time in Notting Hill, West London, with their children Rose, 14, Sid, 12, and five-year-old Bonnie.
He says: “At home if I haven’t been performing I get a bit unRik. I get bored.”
Next year he and Ade will be back on the road with stand-up. And despite his brush with death, Rik has no plans to take it easy. He says: “I can’t retire. It would be horrible.”