Rik Mayall: My Dodgy Driving Shame

by Rik Mayall Interviews And Articles Archive Blog

Exclusive by Claire Donnelly for The Daily Mirror, 9th July 2003

It takes a lot to humble comedian Rik Mayall.

But after being convicted twice in four days for speeding – and given a three-month driving ban – the usually extrovert star is looking understandably subdued.

There is only a trace of his trademark manic grin as Rik sighs and admits: “What else can I say? I was an idiot.

“I want to hold my hands up in the Daily Mirror and say, ‘I’m really stupid. I’m a complete t**t’.”

Rik, 45, was banned from driving and fined �000 last Friday after being caught doing 113mph on the M5 in April.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Bottom star was up before Exeter magistrates again on Monday after hitting 65mph on a 50mph stretch of the same motorway in his new Mercedes S320.

The offence earned him another fine and three points on his licence.

The stupidity of it is not lost on Rik, who almost died after a quad bike accident four years ago.

He says: “I don’t want to sound like I’m moralising, but speeding is stupid.

It’s not something I’m embarrassed to talk about because I admit I’ve been stupid.

“The first time I was on my way back from writing with Ade Edmondson.

“I drove straight past a police car and I remember thinking, ‘Oh f***, I’m going really fast’. I came off the motorway and they followed me off and pulled me over. They were actually really nice – one of them even asked me for an autograph – but that only made me feel more stupid about it.

“I pleaded guilty by letter – I wasn’t being starry, that’s just the way they do it – so the first thing I knew about the ban was when I came home on Friday and my cleaning lady said to me, ‘Hey, Rik, you’re banned’.

“She’d heard it from her son, who’d seen it on TV. I rang him and his reaction was, ‘You got banned for three months but that’s not all – you got fined  ha ha ha’, then he slammed the phone down. But good on him, he’s right. I deserve a bit of stick.

“It was my first offence but I can safely say I’ve learnt my lesson.”

Charmingly honest, in typically blunt fashion, he adds: “I was a t**t basically and I don’t want to try and excuse myself in any way.

“The second time I was doing 65mph in a 50mph zone – on my way to Ade’s again I think.

“But from now on I’m going to drive like a pensioner – at 20mph.” There might be a twinkle in his eye as he says it, but the former Young One’s family will be glad to hear that.

Wife Barbara and children Rosie, 16, Sidney, 13, and Bonnie, seven, are understandably protective over the husband and father they nearly lost.

They held a bedside vigil for him after he was crushed by a quad bike while riding on their Devon farm in April 1998.

Rik suffered two brain haemorrhages and a fractured skull in the accident that left him in a week-long coma. Doctors weren’t sure if he would survive, but he pulled through.

Understandably, since then, his family have been keen for him to be careful – much to his annoyance.

“My family weren’t very pleased,” he says. “My wife already thinks I’m a c**p driver, and she worries about me driving anyway. I’m a really s*** driver, I’m s*** at driving anything.

“Even before my accident, I couldn’t drive, I certainly couldn’t drive a quad bike. Put it this way, if we go anywhere as a family, it’s the wife that does the driving.”

While the ban is in place, Rik – who usually commutes between his north London and Devon homes in his Mercedes – is reduced to using cabs or taking the London Underground.

But surprisingly, his first taste of the public transport network for almost 20 years, has been a good one.

He says: “I’ve been using the Tube and the buses a lot. People always find that hard to believe – like it’s a strange thing to do if you’re famous.

“Yes, you get recognised and people come up and say ‘hi’ or ask for an autograph but that’s fine. I’ve had builders shouting out, ‘Where’s your car, Rik?’ – which is very funny and no more than I deserve.

“The only thing that will be difficult is going on tour. I’ve thought about buying a horse, but maybe I’ll hitch or get one of my kids to ferry me about on a combine-harvester.”

Roaring with laughter, he adds: “Or what about a quad bike…”

Currently rehearsing for the new UK tour of Bottom: Weapons Grade Y-Fronts Tour with comedy partner Edmondson, transport isn’t Rik’s only worry.

The show, based on the love-hate relationship between psychopathic housemates Richie and Eddie, is set to be the most extravagant – and violent – they have staged. Not the most sensible option for a man who suffered serious head injuries.

Rik says: “I’m nervous about doing such a physical show and I have to be careful otherwise this could end up as the first live snuff stage show.”

As he bounds around the room, barefoot in Hawaiian shirt and beige shorts – his Birkenstock sandals have been thrown off earlier – posing for our photographer, it’s hard to imagine Rik ever calming down.

“Even though we’re getting older, it’s probably our most energetic show yet but I’ve been going running and getting ready for it,” he says.

“As long as it’s funny, we’ll still be doing shows when we’re pensioners. Why not?”

As he flashes another cheeky grin, it’s impossible not to believe him.