Music: Rik Mayall rallies fans behind England
by Rik Mayall Interviews And Articles Archive Blog
By Andrew Coleman for Birmingham Mail, 30th April 2010
CULT comic Rik Mayall has been unveiled as the England football team’s secret weapon for this year’s World Cup.
The Young Ones and Bottom funnyman, who was brought up in Droitwich, is rallying the country around the team by releasing a stirring soccer anthem which he hopes will top the charts and encourage England to victory in South Africa this summer.
On Noble England, released this week, 52-year-old Rik performs a specially adapted speech from Act III of Shakespeare’s Henry V, urging ‘‘Once more onto the pitch, dear friends, once more.’’
Against a background of football-style chants and a driving rock beat, he invokes the spirit of the 1415 Battle of Agincourt.
‘‘That battle was basically very few Englishmen against the rest of the world,’’ says Rik. ‘‘When you hear the speech delivered in a gutsy way it makes you go ‘Yeah, right, bring ‘em on, let’s do it’, rather than ‘How nice, what a lovely piece of poetry’.
‘‘I’m trying to amass the entire nation behind England. Everyone’s club allegiance should be put to one side. Noble England is the song that will lead our country to victory! It’s an anthem for the British people.’’
The track, produced by Coventry-based Dave Loughran, was recorded at London’s Brick Lane studios.
‘‘Brick Lane is also where London Calling was recorded by The Clash and where Queen recorded Bohemian Rhapsody,’’ Rik says. ‘‘But most fundamentally it’s where Bohemian Rhapsody was recorded by Bad News. So it’s the hub of British Rock & Roll.’’
Bad News was the spoof rock band, created in 1983 by Rik, Adrian Edmondson, Nigel Planer and Peter Richardson. Their self-titled debut album, released in 1987, was produced by Queen’s Brian May and included the single, Bohemian Rhapsody.
‘‘I’d quite like to get a band together and write some speeches of my own and put them to music,’’ reveals Rik, who thinks Noble England may be the first pop single that is a speech set to music.
In the meantime, he’s writing a film, It Ends Badly, with Peter Richardson and is considering the return of Alan B’Stard, the devious main player in political satire The New Statesman.
‘‘Alan was a member of the Conservative Party and then he was a member of New Labour. Whoever wins the next election, I think that Alan will raise his evil head again.
‘‘But it’s awfully difficult to write such free, open sit-coms for television nowadays. Telly’s got an awful lot more frightened about what you can say or do.
‘‘People enjoy live entertainment much more than they did. The last tour that I completed a couple of years ago with Alan B’Stard was terrific fun and there were all sorts of jokes you couldn’t do on TV.’’
So could we see Rik on the road again, perhaps performing at Birmingham NIA as Michael McIntyre and Ricky Gervais have done?
‘‘At huge gigs you’re a bit distant. It’s a bit like going to see the Pope. I’m not really a big stadium player, I’ve always enjoyed 1500-3000 seaters, like Birmingham Hippodrome, but I’ll play anywhere as long as I’ve got access to my audience.’’
He’s also hoping to team up again with Adrian Edmondson with whom he enjoyed success with, among other things, Bottom.
‘‘I saw Ade the other day, he’s cool. We will work together again – it won’t be Bottom – but we’ll wait till we’re heavily into our 50s.’’
I tell Rik that Adrian recently told the Birmingham Mail they’d be Old Age Pensioners before they worked together again.
Rik laughs: ‘‘I was trying to be a little more discreet. He only said that because he knows I’ll be dead and he can at last have his own solo show!’’