Has Comic Mayall Gone Soft?

by Rik Mayall Interviews And Articles Archive Blog

ITV Teletext, 10th August 2005

He’s been revolting faux anarchist Rick in The Young Ones, obnoxious Tory MP Alan B’Stard in The New Statesman and vile, violent loser Richie in Bottom.

After years of extreme incarnations, Rik Mayall is sbout to be seen tackling something far more wholesome.

ITV1 comedy/drama All About George, by Cold Feet writer Mike Bullen, sees him play a respectable, middle-class family man. Has the alternative comedian gone soft?

All About George sees alternative comedy legend Rik Mayall play an at times wacky but mostly wholesome dad.

“I was surprised to be offered this script and that’s one of the reasons I took it,” says the actor, 47, who frequently talks through what is neither a manic grin or gritted teeth.

“I was being asked to play something I haven’t played before – a good man. That attracted me.”

All About George seems a world away from Rik Mayall’s anarchic work of the past. But he believes rhere is a link.

“You could say The Young Ones was about being a teenager, The New Statesman was about being in your 20’s, Bottom was about being in your 30’s and All About George is about being in your 40’s,” he says defensively.

“I think it’s about being 40 and about being a man.” The show begins September 29.

Like his All About George character, Rik Mayall is a happily married man but he insists the similarities end there.

“I am a very different father to George” says the actor who, with wife Barbara, has children Rosie 18, Sid 16 and nine year old Bonnie.

“I am very lucky because my wife does everything. All I have to do is remember to let the cat in.” George has a lot more responsibilities.”

So has one of the most warped stars of alternative comedy gone soft with his foray into mainstream comedy drama.

“You’re accusing me of going all sentimental”, he snarls. “But I haven’t done this instead of something else, I’ve done this as well as something else.”

“I don’t have a problem with becoming a housewives favourite. I’ve done so much in my oeuvre. I’m a global light-entertainment phenomena.”

Rik Mayall’s life almost came to an end in 1998 in a horriffic quad bike crash.

“I was dead for 5 days,” he says. “Two-fifths of my brain was clogged with blood when I came round and it was like being on acid. I could see sound and hear colour.”

“It took me a while to get my brain working properly again.” Mayall has admitted that his short term memory suffered for a while afterwards.

So what does the future hold for the irrepressible Rik Mayall?

“I’m writing a TV film with Peter Richardson (The Comic Strip Presents) called Sex, Actually he says.

“There’s also the release of my book Bigger Than Hitler Better Than Christ which I suppose will cause some controversy” he says with mock innocence. And more All About George? “I’ll be doing George until I’m 70.”