Rik Mayall Interviews and Articles Archive

The Pan Global Phenomenon in all his verbal glory.

Category: 1986

Comic Relief

For Smash Hits, 23rd April – 6th May 1986

“I’ve got myself a crying, sleeping, walking, talking, living… bottom.” That was the opening line from one of the songs performed by The Young Ones at three live comedy shows recently staged in London by Comic Relief (the people who brought you Cliff and The Young Ones’ Living Doll single). The shows were all recorded and are soon to appear as an LP, a book and a TV special to be screened this Friday. Among the stars who took part were Bob Geldof, Midge Ure, Kate Bush, Lenny Henry, Rowan Atkinson, Howard Jones, and Paul Young. And among the people snooping about backstage was Chris Heath…

Half an hour to go before the show and backstage it’s complete chaos. On the landing Bob Geldof and comedian Ben Elton are having a raging “discussion” about Apartheid in South Africa (they both hate it but they’re in some disagreement as to what should be done about it); next door Paula Yates is talking about compost and saying she wants a plant for her birthday, Kate Bush is getting herself a horrid cup of tea (“no sugar please”), Midge Ure is wandering round in a dodgy blue sweater and two people in the corner are having a desperately frantic conversation.

“Neil Kinnock is in row double A, you know?”

“So is he doing something?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

“No? Isn’t he being cut in half?”

“Nah. That’s Eric Clapton.”

Very strange. And here’s Vyvian from the Young Ones striding confidently up the stairs…


Urn…well, tripping confidently up the stairs…

Rowan Atkinson starts the show off. The audience begin tittering the moment he appears in front of the curtain and he only has to wiggle his face around and almost everyone is bent double. He’s followed by a “stand-up routine” from Lenny Henry, a million times better “in the flesh” than he’s ever been on radio or TV. After he’s finished, ancient songstress Joan Armatrading totters onto the stage to considerable applause, a guitar strung round her neck, but simply introduces Kate Bush and disappears. Most mysterious…

Meanwhile Kate launches into one of her old “classics”, Breathing, – just her, and a piano. “It was difficult to know what to do,” she says afterwards. “I felt I had to do something straight so I thought the only thing I could do was to go right to the other end of the spectrum and find something that was appropriate. And although this event is about people starving, Breathing, about nuclear war, has a parallel sympathy in that it’s also about people trying to stay alive.”

Whether or not the audience quite took in all that, they certainly liked her. Kate disappears, but after a couple more sketches she’s back, this time side by side with Rowan Atkinson (who’s wearing glasses and a gold lame jacket like a rather disgusting, glitzy old country & western singer) performing a funny duet. It’s called something like Do Bears Sha-lala-la In The Woods?, is full of completely pathetic chat-up lines and Kate – gasp! – uses lots of naughty language.

During the show Neil Kinnock and his family sit laughing merrily along but they suddenly get assaulted by Pamela Stephenson (pretending to be Janet “I live with Tony James of Sigue ‘Sigue’ Sputnik” Street Porter) who looks like she’s doing her best to humiliate him. Apparently it had been arranged beforehand: “I spoke to him on the phone,” she explains later. “And he said he’d be happy to be a part of it. I was quite worried – it’s a fine line between being too nice to him and embarrassing him too much. I thought he took it rather well.”

Then comes the bit it seems everybody’s really been waiting for. Introduced as “the sexiest man in the history of the universe”, on bounds Rik Mayall with a rubber chicken sticking out of his “pocket”. He starts out with a rather endearing little song in which he inquires “do you love me – would you like to see my pants?” and very thoughtfully shows them to us, followed by his nipples and assorted other “naughty bits”. “I broke a teacup in the dressing room – we’re maaaaaaaad!” says Rik, explaining how “nutty” he is. “Of course, I reported it to the police.” He tells the audience to look behind them and then sticks two fingers up at them, he talks a lot about “farts” and “wee-wees”, calls Cliff Richard “Jesus” then spots Vyvian offstage and accuses him of “trying to have a snog with Kate Bush”.

Eventually Vyvian abandons Kate (or whatever he was doing), strolls onstage with a horrible loud guitar and strums through an atrocious new “version” of Living Doll, retitled Living Bottom, before being joined by the rest of the Young Ones…and CLIFF!! Oh, it’s not Cliff, it’s Bob Geldof wearing a very rock’n’roll jacket and a huge cross he’s just borrowed backstage off Gary Glitter. And, on guitar instead of Hank Marvin, there’s Midge Ure wearing a rather silly pair of specs. (“They’re my wife Annabel’s glasses,” he admits later. “I couldn’t see a thing because they’re really thick and everything’s a massive blur.”) They all run through a completely chaotic version of Living Doll and disappear. Hoots and whistle, enormous cheers, then…the interval.

Not surprisingly, after The Young Ones, the second half is a little bit of an anticlimax. For one thing, quite a few of the special guests of previous nights – Billy Connolly, Paul Young (pretending to be comedian Tommy Cooper) and Howard Jones (singing No-one Is To Blame at the piano and an acapella version of Life In One Day with backing trio Afrodiziak) – haven’t managed to make it tonight for one reason or another. Doddery old guitar “hero” Eric Clapton is here though. He’s summoned onstage by Pamela Stephenson, lain down in a crate and, once Gary Glitter has presented Pamela with a revved-up chainsaw, is sawn in half with much spilling of blood. Then it’s the turn of comedian Ben Elton (co-writer of The Young Ones scripts) who delivers one of his non-stop Saturday Live-type routines.

Bob and Midge are back on next, acting out an old Monty Python sketch which involves them sending up Band Aid (“I think we’re the only possible people who could do that,” says Midge later) by asking a stuffy businessman (comedian Stephen Fry) for some money for charity while mumbling things to each other like “I prefer the idea of a Christmas record and a global jukebox”.

They’re followed by comedy group The HeeBeeGeeBees doing a brilliant but incredibly dated parody of the Bee Gees, and then Lenny Henry bounds back on stage, this time pretending to be a disgustingly sexist American soul singer. Then there’s a mock race between athletes Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett, and a brilliantly ludicrous piece in which Lenny Henry and boxing champion Frank Bruno (wearing a dress) act out a scene from Shakespeare’s Romeo And Juliet.

Bob and Midge again. “We’re sort of the Doom Brothers,” announces Bob. “Whenever we appear you know it’s the end of something” and Midge starts strumming the opening chords of Do They Know It’s Christmas on an acoustic guitar. Finally the whole cast streams back on and everybody, including the audience, join in on the “Feed The World” part of the song. And that’s it. The stars whizz off to the last-night party, the audience goes home, The Young Ones explain that they may never ever be the Young Ones again and Eric Clapton, who was savagely “cut up”, hasn’t been seen since…

• Highlights from the three Comic Relief shows will be broadcast this Friday, April 25, on BBC1 as an hour-and-a-half long Omnibus special. And any day now an LP, Comic Relief-Completely And Utterly Live (WEA Records), will also be released including a selection of the music and sketches from the shows.

Lenny Henry

“I was told about the whole idea – an album, a film, a book – and it all seemed really positive. And where else could you get Paul Young pretending to be Tommy Cooper, Seb Coe and Steve Ovett running round the building, Frank Bruno in a dress and Kate Bush being funny?”

Bob Geldof

“When I heard about this I thought it was a brilliant idea and I said I’d do whatever they wanted me to. I did Cliff’s part in Living Doll on Friday and tonight – last night Cliff was here himself doing all this break-dancing stuff. Nobody’s told him he’s perfected it six years too late!”

Pamela Stephenson

“I shouldn’t use explosives in the show because I’m extremely pregnant (by her boyfriend Billy Connolly) but I love special effects. Spraying blood everywhere. It’s great! There’s nothing better.”

Ben Elton

“I’m ambivalent to charity because I think in the long run you need a change in the system, not just to give people things. On the other hand you can’t fiddle while Rome burns, so I’ve mucked in and helped. The most important thing is that we’re raising money to help other people, but the only reason they need help is that we live under systems that are run entirely for the gain of a small group of people. As Geldof’s brilliant experiment, his fabulous work last year, proved, it helped but it changed nothing. People will starve until we believe we are a community on earth and not out for our own private gain.”

Rik Mayall

“It was quite a relief to be a Young One again – it’s very easy to slip back into the stereotype. At the moment me and Ade (Edmondson) have just done a new Comic Strip episode called Mr. Jolly Lives next Door and we’re doing three more over the summer. The BBC have offered to give us some money to write a third series of The Young Ones but we’re going to write something else instead. We’re not sure what, but it’ll be quite…different.”

Midge Ure

“I saw Rik Mayall on Wogan giving Comic Relief a plug and the next day I tried to find out how I could buy some tickets to see the show. The same afternoon I got a letter from Rowan Atkinson asking me if I could come along and help, and he was talking about famine relief – a bit like sending coals to Newcastle!”

Nigel Planer (Neil)

‘The first I heard about Comic Relief was when I got this letter saying ‘you know the recording date we told you about last November?’- I didn’t -‘well, the date’s been changed and could you make the new date?’ I could.’

Gary Glitter

“Pamela Stephenson phoned me on Thursday and asked me if I’d ever worked a chainsaw. I said no. but she taught me how to do it. It was excellent. Since I lost my driving licence it’s about the nearest I can get to revving anything up.”

Adrian Edmondson (Vyv)

“I’m a bit bored with doing The Young Ones. I think Vyvian – in fact all the characters, are dead. I don’t think you’ll ever see The Young Ones again. The best thing about tonight was meeting Fric Clapton – he’s my guitar hero.”

Christopher Ryan (Mike)

“It’s funny being a Young One again because, until the record, we hadn’t done it for two years. We don’t want to do another series because we all feel we can’t go anywhere else with it. To be honest, I’ve been signing on the dole for a few months now because I can’t find the right thing to do next.”



Brrrilliant! Cliff’s a Young One Again!

For Look In, 12th April 1986

When the total and utter king of rock’n’ roll, Cliff Richard, got together with those horrid blighters The Young Ones to make a record, people must have wondered what had come over the world. OK, so Rick worships the very water Cliff walks on, but why did the honourable Cliff have to lower himself to such depths? Look-in found out…

There had to be a good reason for all this, and there is. It’s called Comic Relief, a comedy version of Band Aid, for which The Young Ones and Cliff got together to make their hit version of Living Doll, originally a hit for Cliff way back in 1959. (And it’s from another of his hits, The Young Ones, in 1962, that they pinched their name!)

All the artistes are giving their earnings from the single to charity: Shaky’s producer Stuart Coleman is among those who gave his services free. Most of the money will go to Oxfam and Save The Children’s work in Sudan and Ethiopia, funding famine relief, while some of the money will be spent on projects in Britain.

But just how could the truly wonderful Cliff bring himself to make a record with hippy Neil, punk Vyvian, ‘outrageous’ Rick and smoothie Mike, especially after they’d made fun of him so much on their BBC comedy series?

“They approached me with the idea and I liked it,” says Cliff. “I didn’t see much of the TV series and what I did see was ridiculous. It was a bit disgusting. But I don’t mind the Cliff Richard jokes. It was quite flattering to be filtered into the scripts.”

Throughout the series Rick went on about how wonderful he thought Cliff was. So how did he feel about meeting his hero and making a record with him? “I was quite worried about how we were going to get on,” says Rik. “I thought I was going to be embarrassed but he was terribly nice.”

Naturally, not everything went smoothly at the recording session. “We had to put Vyvian in a corner behind a screen because he was so bad we didn’t want Cliff to hear,” explains Mike.

The result is their strange-sounding but totally brilliant record, and it’s all for an absolutely utter, utter, utter… good cause!

Hey, kids, here’s the moment you’ve been waiting for. The words to the most fabulous hit song of all time (or something)…


Cliff Richard and The Young Ones


Neil: Look everyone, he’s coming through the doors!


Vyv: Brilliant! He didn’t even open them!


Neil: He’s here!


Mike: Quick, Rick, do the speech.


Rick: Hey kids, stop snogging and pay attention to me, ‘cos it you’re a wild-eyed loner standing at the gates of oblivion, then hitch a ride with us because we’re on the last freedom moped out of nowhere city and we haven’t even told our parents what time we’ll be back. So put on your dancing trousers and get down to the total and utter king of rock and roll, Cliff Richard.


Cliff: Got myself a crying; talking sleeping walking living doll
Got to do my best to please her just ‘cos she’s a living doll
Got a rovin eye and that is why she satisfies my soul
Got the one and only walking talking living doll


Cliff: OK guys, ready

Vyv: Completely ready when you are, Shaky.

Cliff: Neil?

Neil: Does anyone know where the toilets are?

Cliff: Mike?

Mike: Does all this money really have to go to charity?

Rick: Yes it does, Michael. Hi Cliff, it’s, me!

Cliff: Who are you?

Rick: Great joke, your majesty.

Cliff: Got myself a crying talkrng sleeping walking living doll

Young Ones: Living doll

Cliff: Got to do my best to please her just ‘cos she’s a living doll

Young Ones: Living doll

Cliff: Got a rovin eye and that is why she satisfies my soul

Young Ones: Fies my soul

Vyv: Fies my soul?

Rick: Yes, Vyvian, its raunchy.

Mike: Shut up guys.

Vyv: What does this button do? (Explosion)

Cliff: Got the one and only walking talking living doll
Take a look at her hair, its real
If you don’t believe what I say, just feel

Mike: Do I know this girl?

Cliff: Gonna lock her up in a trunk

Young Ones: Trunk

Cliff: So no big hunk

Young Ones: Hunk

Cliff: Can steal her away frorn me

Young Ones: Get down!

Neil: OK.

Cliff: Got myself a crying talking sleeping walking living doll
Got to do my host to please her just’cos she’s a living doll

Vyv: Hey Cliff, I’ve just invented a great new sound. (Cracking)

Neil: Oww!

Mike: Untie Neil’s legs, Vyvian.

Cliff: Settle down chats.

Cliff: Got a rovin’ eye and that is why she satisfies my soul

All: Got the one and only walking talking living doll

Rick: OK, Daddy-o, lay the next funky riff on me!

Mike: He means, what happens now, Cliff?

Cliff: the instrumental break.

Vyv: Great, Cliff, what instruments do you want us to break?

Vyv: Piano… violin… diggery doo…

Rick: Vyvian’s trousers!

Vyv: Rick’s head!

Neil: Neil’s head!

Vyv: Cliffs head!

The other three: No!!

Rick: Well, take a look at her hair, it’s real

Neil: If you don’t believe what I say

Mike: just feel

Vyv: Gonna lock her up in a trunk

Mike: so no big hunk

Cliff: Can steal her away from me.

Rick: I still feel locking girls up in trunks is politically unsound.

Mike: It’s only a song, Rick.

Neil: Well, I feel sorry foi the elephant.

Cliff: Come on guys.

All: Got myself a

Neil: Crying

Vyv: talking

Mike: Sleeping

Rick: Walking

All: Living doll

Cliff: Living doll
Got to do my best to please her just’cos she’s a

All: Living doll

Cliff: All right guys, harmonies now!

All: Got a rovin’ eye and that is why she satisfies my soul
Got the one and only walking talking living doll
Got the once and only walking talking living doll

Cliff: Living doll

Cliff: Can I go now?

Rick: Er, thanks Cliff, ‘bye. Right kids, if you don’t buy this record you’re an utter utter utter utter utter… (Sound of record scratch)




For Smash Hits, 1986

“Listen you bunch of girly swats, Ethiopia which all the record’s this is Rick The Big Pop Star talking! I’ve just caught the last Freedom Moped out of Groovesville to tell you all about the stomach-churning, bottom-busting video we made to go with our world-shattering, record-breaking, train-stopping collaboration with The King Of Rock And Roll, Cliff ‘Devil Woman’ Richard!!! And let me tell you kids, it’s hard work walking the razor’s edge of fame, money, girls, and glamour, and still keeping your street cred with the ‘Big-Bottomed Vegetarians Against The Bomb’ student society! Anyway, for our ‘vid’ (as we in the ‘pop biz’ call these things), we caught a private jet to Sri Lanka with 750 pretty blooming sexy model girlies, and all ran around with leather underpants on our heads pretending we were Duran Duran! Then…”

“Er, sorry about this readers… hey Rick I don’t want to bring you down, right, but… er… what we actually did was stand in a bandstand in a park in Peckham for a day getting really cold, right, while Cliff did his bit in the studio, and…”

“SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP!!! Blooming Hippie! Anyway kids, Cliff was just so pleased that he’d finally got to work with me, ‘cos he’d been wanting to for ages, and… ”

“Ooh, Rick! You know he only did it for Comic Relief, the charity for Ethiopia which all the record’s profits are going to!”

“Yes yes, alright alright! Oh lookNeil, a pink and yellow cow is playing mandolin outside…”

“Oh really, where?” (THUD) “Ooh…”

“Right, kids! That’s got rid of him! Now let me tell you about…” (HUGE EXPLOSION)

“Brr-illiant! What a great sound effect, eh Rich? …Rick?

“Vyvian — I hate you.”