The B’Stard is Back!

by Rik Mayall Interviews And Articles Archive Blog

Milton Keynes Citizen, 2nd July 2007

Name: Alan B’Stard. Address: 9 Downing Street. Who he is: ‘One of the shining stars of the New Labour cabinet.’ What is he? In short, selfish and depraved sums it all up. Is a peerage in the offing? “I’ve already bought several for an awful lot of money!” And another thing: Why is Condoleeza Rice in and out of Alan’s back door? The B’Stard is back!

Rik Mayall caused a stir when he appeared at MK theatre last year – and now the B’Stard is back! Sammy Jones caught up with the star of The New Statesman

We only have a few snatched minutes together, but our relationship blossoms with haste – he calls me a name most beautiful (though best not repeated here and now) and I call him a B’Stard in return.

For this is no ordinary interview and any journalist who picks up the phone expecting the comedy genius that is Rik Mayall to trot out tiresome tatty theatrical lines will return to their keypad disappointed. He is on the phone doing the not very-necessary (given that ticket sales are little short of awesome) but token ring round of the press in advance of The New Statesmanwhich takes its final live turn at MK Theatre from July 9.

“I’m pleased with the show,” he begins, putting more emphasis into those opening five words than many an actor does his entire career.

“I’m looking forward to coming back,” he says of his imminent arrival in our new city. “I’m looking forward to it – it has been going really well so far. You know they call Glasgow the comedians’ graveyard because if the audience don’t like something, they let you know? Well if they like it they let you know too, and we ripped the face off Edinburgh and disembowled Glasgow!”

The New Statesman, the Blair B’Stard Project again comes from the exceptional writing force that is Marks and Gran (Shine On Harvey Moon, Birds of a Feather, Goodnight Sweetheart) pitting the best writers with the best performers – after all, you don’t need to colour up Mayall’s career to come up with the goods: Bottom, Blackadder and The Young Onesbeing three particular peaches.

But we shouldn’t only give Mayall and his on-stage wifey Lysette Anthony praise. “Helen Baker plays Flora Herbert and she is brilliant, her comedy timing is sublime, put that in…and we’ve got the best terrorist in the world, Kamal Hussein. It was his birthday yesterday which is why I feel a bit rough today.

“What I want to say,” he considers at fast pace, returning to roost at the work, “is that this is not a tired rehash of an old telly programme.”

‘I know as much’, I say. “Oh sorry, you’re in charge…I’ll do anything you want,” the comic creator sneers (that infamous, funny) back. But I’m not reaching for my whip (that is reserved for full-time politicans who don’t mind spending a pretty penny) and get back on track, to the very essence of his craft: That wickedly wonderful sense of humour of his.

“Comedy is the salvation of misery,” speaks the man who knows. “It’s practically sexual, and I mean that. When you’ve got several hundred people that you are able to move into any…” ‘Shape?’ I volunteer. “Yes, if you like. That’s the pleasure. I could also say that I’m ******* good at it, but I’m too much of a gentleman of course.” So Mayall is taking to the stage in the role that he made a small screen success…and this won’t be a staid production – not with the writers on tap to weave in fresh political elements as and when they happen. the Government’s brigade is being watched…

“Last year, the main body of the show was the West’s conflict with the East, but for example we did have a lot of very good World Cup jokes, but that’s finished now…” The World Cup…have we missed something?

When the curtain goes down on The New Statesman, that’ll be it, game over so far as Alan B’Stard goes. “If people really want to see the show they have to go to MK Theatre, because it won’t be coming out again, and there won’t be a DVD, nothing, that’s it.” Finish it while it’s good then? “That’s always been my principle.”

With the depraved, selfish politician no longer to wander the corridors of power, Mayall will have some free time on his hands should he choose, though he does mention a film project as a possibility.

Wherever Rik turns up, and doing whatever, you can rest easy in the knowledge that it’ll be fully plump and fantastic. “I worked it out the other day, I’ve been 31 years in the job now, I’m quite an old dog.” But still one that’d make a beeline for the nearest lamp-post and steal your string of sausages…