Rik’s New Labour of Love
by Rik Mayall Interviews And Articles Archive Blog
Evening Times Times Out, 22nd June 2006
New Statesman Swaps Parties for More Laughs
Four series of ITV’s The New Statesman starring Rik Mayall did more to harm the Conservative Party than the Labour opposition.
Alan B’Stard MP was the most depraved, amoral character TV had ever seen, a creature that many political commentators noted was worryingly close to reality.
Twelve years on, writers Lawrence Marks and Maurice Gran have revived their monstrous hero in this stage show, and B’Stard has crossed the floor to join the Labour Party.
And we learn it was he who engineered the demise of Clause 4 and he who attempted to plant WMD in Iraq to pave the way for invasion.
In fact, he was the man behind the entire New Labour concept.
“After Margaret Thatcher was pushed out of office, I realised the Tories were no longer the right-Wing, hanging and flogging party that I was so drawn to in my student days”, says B’Stard.
The New Statesman came about after Rik Mayall invited Marks and Gran to concoct a vehicle for him.
Mayall knew exactly what he wanted.
“I think selfish, vain people are very, very funny,” he said. “I wanted to play someone grown up, powerful and a complete and utter b*****d.”
Essex-born Mayall has an instinct for cruel comedy.
After studying drama at Manchester University he touched the hem of fame in 1980 after appearing at the infamous Comedy Store in London.
Mayall broke into TV with the character Kevin Turvey on the 1981 BBC Scotland series A Kick Up the Eighties thanks to Comedy Unit boss Colin Gilbert.
His role as sociology student and Cliff Richard devotee in The Young Ones in 1982, a series written by Mayall with long-standing friend Ben Elton and then girlfriend Lise Mayer, ensured him wide public acclaim.
Mayall went on to star in a number of the Comic Strip films and on Saturday Live with Adrian Edmondson as The Dangerous Brothers, a pair of naive but anarchic daredevils who would set fire to each other.
Now, Mayall is relishing his return to the B’Stard role. And he says he likes the fact this unwholesome character is laughed at and not laughed with.
B’Stard’s wife, played by Marsha Fitzalan, also features in the play.
And we can be thankful for that. Sarah was as money-motivated as her husband and, despite having lesbian tendencies (she had an affair with B’Stard’s female political agent) would sleep with anyone (even Bstard) for her own ends.
B’Stard married her, of course, purely for her respectability and money and committed adultery at every turn, charming women with talk of his ‘enormous majority’.
The MP has lost his usual ally in upper-class twit Piers, the Bladrick to his Blackadder, who stuck with the Tories, but has a new sidekick called Frank, a left-wing former coal miner.
But is Alan B’Stard still a man for our times?
It’s argued that his 80s excess was attractive almost in the same way that Harry Enfield’s Loadsamoney was.
And in a Who’s Who entry B’Stard described his recreational activities as ‘Making money, drinking, driving, dining out on other people’s expenses, boogying, bonking, droit du seigneur, grinding the faces of the poor’.
Can he manage to enjoy all this fun quite as easily while still being part fo the New Labour machine?
Explaining the defection to Labour, Mayall said of the party: “They are young, they are sexy – and they are much more right-wing than the Conservatives.”
Writer Maurice Gran, who is also a disillusioned Labour Party member said: “We never thought they would be quite so ghastly quite so quickly and that they would give us so much ammunition.”