Rik Mayall Interviews and Articles Archive

The Pan Global Phenomenon in all his verbal glory.

Category: 2000

Rik Mayall Wears 22-Year-Old Underpants for Luck

Annanova.com, 2000

Rik Mayall says the secret of his success is down to a pair of 22-year-old underpants which he wears for every first night.

The former Young Ones and Bottom star has confessed to wearing the same fraying undies for luck in every one of his debut shows since 1978.

He says has another lucky charm in the shape of a silver skull and crossbones ring given him by his 12-year-old son Syd.

Rik “thanks God every day” that he is still alive, but says he won’t be parted from his favourite blue pants, reports the Daily Star.

He has vowed to wear them again next week when he stars in A Family Affair in Bath, his first stage role since he nearly died in a 1998 quad bike accident on his farm near Totnes, Devon.

“I am superstitious, yeah. I noticed years ago that every time I had a belting gig and took my clothes off afterwards to have a shower, I was always wearing the same pants,” he said.

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You’ve Got Mayall

By Michael Daniels for Beat, 26th July 2000

Meeting at university some twenty-five years ago, Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson went on to become some of the corner stones of British comedy; producing such cult viewing as The Young Ones, Filthy, Rich and Catflap, Bottom, and The Comic Strip Presents. The guys have both hit the big screen before (Mayall with his attempt at breaking the U.S. market with Drop Dead Fred and Edmondson in the indie flick The Supergrass— which also featured his wife, Jennifer Saunders, and fellow Young One, Nigel Planner) — but it’s only now, with the release of their unofficial film continuation of Bottom, in Guest House Paradiso, that the guys are really causing such a stir in Oz, not seen since The Young Ones was compulsory viewing.

I caught up with Rik Mayall in person one very drizzly afternoon while he and Edmondson were out here doing the publicity thang — it was initially supposed to be with both the guys, but Edmondson got whisked away on business elsewhere.

I told Mayall that I had done nothing but watch The Young Ones, Filthy, Rich and Catflap and Bottom for the past few days — he was most impressed with the mention of Catflap at all, something he thought wasn’t even heard of in Australia, “I miss Catflap, and so do many fans in England. It got so hammered, because it wasn’t The Young Ones— which was so hypercritical… The Young Ones got hammered when it came out as well. So we were well and truly used to critics shit by the time we were on our next project after The Young Ones.”

Mayall talks about the run of Guest House Paradiso in the U.K., “it was originally supposed to have only a two week run, it came out just before last Christmas. Before we knew what was happening, it had a two week run, then three, four and five! Which is great! Especially at Christmas time; because we were up against really grown up, American flms. It did a bit of a run in Europe, after England… but Oz is really the only place of significance Guest House has come out in since. I have always thought, and still do, that we share a sense of humour. I’m not suggesting that the Brits and Aussies are all ‘common’, but we all share an ‘ordinary’ sense of humour. Its what Ade and I have always had, and it has always gone down well in our two (pointing to me) countries. Ade said something good this morning, he said ‘Australia is just like Britain, but without all the bollocks!’. And I don’t think I’m saying that in a purely business sense because I’ve been here, and toured here with The Comic Strip back in ’86… and its been since then, I’ve always loved here!”

I asked Mayall what he thought was the signifcant differences between the material he and Edmondson wrote, compared to the material they used to perform written by fellow comic Ben Elton (who wrote Filthy, Rich and Catflap and Blackadder, amongst others), “Definitely the dialogue. Ade’s and my wordplay is a little more particular, and a little more surreal. Ben’s sort of draws on more examples of things and current affairs. He (Elton) was more political in a small way — he wasn’t like ‘Pro Labour!’ sort of thing, but ours is definitely more insane.”

Mayall explains his and Edmondson’s relationship when writing, something like Guest House Paradiso or Bottom, “When we work, Ade sits at the computer and types — and I pace up and down and smoke, and churn out ideas. He sits and types and churns out ideas. I’ll suggest something, and he’ll top it… but we end up spending so much time laughing. We had the idea for Guest House Paradiso when we were in a hotel room on our last tour. Things grow — as much as The Dangerous Brothers grew into The Young Ones, which grew into Filthy, Rich and Catflap, which grew into Bottom; and Bottom grew into the live show, which grew into the film. Anyway, when you’re on tour, there’s a lot of waiting in the hotel; because you can’t drink before you go on. You just can’t! Because you can’t remember your words and act properly. So you’re lust sitting around — and we thought wouldn’t it be funny if our characters in Bottom were running this hotel. If Richie (Mayall’s character) was manager, and Eddie (Edmondson) came to the door with your drinks, and they were empty, because he’d like drunk them on the way. And it all just kind of grew from there… And it just seemed obvious that it had to be film, instead of stage or telly — because you want the camera in there. There are things you can do on stage that you can’t do on telly, there are things you can do on telly that you can’t do on film, and there are things you can do on film that you can’t do on stage! Like, you can run over Eddie’s head with a truck, for example!

I asked Mayall why he thought that British comedians in particular seem to stick together, as apposed to U.S. — eg: in one episode of Filthy, Rich and Catflap, other than Mayall, Edmondson and Planner, there was Gareth Hale (of Hale and Pace), Hugh Laurie (Blackadder), Stephen Fry (Peter’s Friends) and Chris Barrie (Red Dwarf). The yanks are more likely to do their obligatory Saturday Night Live thing where they rely on a team, then go off and pretty much do their own thing. Mayall theorises, “We all started when there was nothing. There was no British touring line of live comedy, and there was nothing on telly at all, except for nice, sickening sitcoms. So we all kind of formed a ‘club’ together. It’s the way to get on, was to gel together; it was the way we had to look after ourselves, was to form a gang! If you look back at British comedy, its exactly what the Monty Python team did; and The Goons — even though there were only three or four of them, they were inseparable. If you work together in a gang, its great! Ade and I were always a double act…we shared a sense of humour; its substantial.”

The Odd Couple

By Grub Smith for FHM, January 2000

After two decades spent multilating each other, isn’t it time Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson grew up? Thankfully this seems highly unlikely…

In the past they have drunk lighter fuel, hit each other with cricket bats, and superglued their private parts to the fannies of blow up dolls, so perhaps “first thing in the morning” is not the wisest time to interview Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson. True to form, when we arrive, the latter is lying out sparko on the sofa, nursing a hangover, and Rik — whose bad luck with vehicles can be summed up in the single word “quadbike” — is caught in traffic.

Soon enough, however, they are together and cracking gags at each other’s expense. Physically they seem… well, if not exactly fat for 41, then stocky, well-padded, comfortable. Appearances can be deceptive, mind you, and viewers of their latest project, a movie called Guest House Paradiso, will be staggered by the athletic manner in which they pummel each other for a full 90 minutes. The film is little more than Bottom writ large, with the same diet of beatings, fart gags and bodily fluids — only with more money and effort expended.

“The ‘vomit corridor’ scene is short in the final cut, but took a week to film,” remarks Edmondson, the movie’s director, with a seriousness to match any auteur. “We had all these meetings beforehand, with serious adult conversations, soberly discussing the merits of tandoori mix or creme de menthe mix, and there’s a crew member whose credit was ‘Vomit Technician’. We went for a fetching green puke in the end. As a homage to The Exorcist, naturally — they used pea soup.”

If not exactly a crowning artistic glory, the enjoyable romp is certainly no blemish on the record of a comedy team which has lasted longer than Monty Python. Both the sons of teachers, they met in the mid-Seventies on the drama course at Manchester University. “It was a very punky, experimental, left wing atmosphere, and we both took the piss out of everyone,” recalls Rik. After a few cameos on TV sketch shows, they hit the big time with the Young Ones, in which Rik played ”Rwick”, the acne laden Stalinist nancy boy, and Ade wreaked havoc as Vyvyan, the all gobbling, all-smacking punk psycho. Mayall followed this up with success as Alan B’stard in The New Statesman while Edmondson went off to direct pop videos, but they then revamped an earlier act — The Dangerous Brothers– and the cunningly named Bottom was born.

The details of their private lives have already been well-documented elsewhere, most notably that Adrian is married to Jennifer Saunders, and that Rik crashed himself into a coma (“I felt a bit of prat afterwards, frankly…”). They’ve got kids and big houses and lots of money, but as this isn’t Hello! let’s forget that stuff and get right down to the important details, the ones about woeful sexual incompetence, squeezing each others’ testicles, and driving motorcycles up the stairs.

A lot of your laughs come from extreme violence, but have you ever hurt yourselves?

AE: I’ve never broken a bone, but I did set myself very badly on fire in a Dangerous Brothers sketch. They put this special gel on my legs, which was only supposed to go up to my knees, but I must have been feeling particularly confident that day because I told them to go all the way to the groin. I said, “If the flames come too high, I’ll shout out the special emergency code word.” The trouble was I forgot the word, so they let me burn like kindling.

RM: Yeah that was nasty. My own worst injury — not counting the accident, of course — came when I was celebrating Margaret Thatcher’s resignation. I arrived at a party utterly pissed, shouting “There’s no more Thatch”, then felt down the stairs and broke my shoulder. She had her revenge for The New Statesman.

AE:Yeah, but you showed her, mate. Only took 18 years of alternative comedy to get her out of office.

RM: And it was my wanking arm…

On that subject, there’s a scene in the film where your scrotum gets viciously crushed between some nutcrackers. How much padding did you have on?

RM:None at all. Those were my bollocks and it did hurt. I was heroic.

AE:It was, in fact, a small toy ladybird. We tried it with just Rik’s pills, but the camera just couldn’t see a bulge. Not even with the zoom.

RM:Yeah, okay, that’s true.

You both attended minor public schools. Were there any gay incidents when the big boys came on to you?

AE:I don’t remember them coming on me. Rik?

RM:Absolutely none. No recollection. Apart from being buggered in the library, but that was only on Tuesday mornings. Actually, I think it helped that I never went in the big communal shower after games. As a day boy I had the option of doing my afternoon lessons caked in mud and having a bath at home.

AE: Pathetic. Just to stop getting queered up…

But as a teenager, you shared a bedroom with a pal for two years…

RM:Er… yes. He was called Mike.

AE:Mike, also known as “Cynthia”…

RM:I’m sensing that you’re looking for a mutual masturbation story here. All I can give you, sadly, happened when I was ten. There was a school trip to Norfolk, and we were all steeping in the same cabin. There was one older boy, who announced, “Right! I’m going to have a wank now.” All the others went, “Okay! Yeah! Me too!”, but I didn’t know what a wank was. I just copied them, banging the sheet up and down not having a clue what was going on. Then they said, “Are you coming, Mayally,” and I replied, “Er, but I’m already here…”

When was the last time you were in a fight?

AE:I was at some charity ball, and because I was a minor celebrity, they made me do the raffle. I was pissed and I had no material, so I swore quite a lot in an effort to make it interesting. When I came off the stage, this little fat bloke rushed over and, with no warning, punched me in the face. I was with Jennifer. She hit him full in the face and bloody well hurt him. My girl had to save me. Yeah, my ho’.

Did people pick fights with you in pubs after you played “hard nut” Vyvyan in The Young Ones?

AE:I’m not sure it was just that, because I was a very bolshy bloke in those days. I remember going round to Rik’s house and getting in a fight with two of his mates. I think I was just a mouthy bastard who enjoyed teasing people a bit too hard.

RM: He’s good at fighting.

AE:
Well, they’re mostly scuffles. One punch and then you’re both rolling around on the ground trying to rub each other’s head in the grass.

Rik, you once said, “I’m occasionally lethal if people tuck about with me”…

AE:(Laughing) Oh yeah, he “ices” people.

RM:I’ve only been in three fights. There was one in Holland Park, which I lost resoundingly, against a security man. I’d just married my wife, Barbara, and when we left a party, we found the road blocked by a huge lorry. Our driver gave a toot on the horn, and this little old man ran over shouting, “Stop making that fucking noise.” Barbara tried to explain that we were just trying to get by, but he called over the security chap who screamed “You shut your fucking mouth, woman!” I jumped out of the back seat and rolled my sleeves up…

AE:Oh dear, he had to be brave…

RM:I took one swish at him, which missed, then he started banging my face on the car bonnet. Luckily, Hugh Laurie was leaving the party too…

Is he a hard man?

RM:No, but he’s got a very loud, posh voice, which made the guy run away.

What about the time you glassed someone in a pub?

RM:There was this wanker who was saying all miners were fat, lazy, stupid northerners…

AE:Which is wrong. Some of them are from Kent…

RM:I swung at him, and being a fat drunk, I missed and fell on top of him. He landed on a glass which had somehow made its way onto the floor. Honest.

What drink do you recommend to the trainee drinker?

RM: Cider’s always been the final solution.

AE:Barley wine’s good. And Buckfast Tonic. Oh, and Thunderbird, of course, which is also excellent for catching wasps. You put some in a jam jar, and the wasps get attracted to it. Then they drown. They must get pissed first, so it’s quite humane, really.

RM:I know it’s old fashioned, but I still swear by Colt 45 Lager. If you have four cans, you’re guaranteed to be pissed out of your vest. If you have one sip more — if you even touch a fifth can — you’ll be sick.

AE:We used to go to parties with a fourpack each, which we’d hang from our belt buckles by the plastic binding. A stupid look in fashion circles, perhaps, but if you risked putting it on the table someone else would steal it.

RM:And you knew, scientifically, when you had an empty belt, you were pissed. It was time to go home.

AE:Because you hadn’t got a shag…

When you played Donnington with your heavy metal band Bad News, the fans responded by throwing urine and sheep’s eyeballs. How does that feel?

AE:It was worse at Reading, actually. Lots of people in the crowd had these plastic lemonade bottles, and they used them for having a slash in rather than going all the way back to the lavs. You’d swallow two or three cupfuls a night. And gob too. I got plenty of that on my tongue. It stops you wanting to be a pop star, believe me.

RM:The sheep’s eyeballs were my fault. I went on a radio show, and in an attempt to be amusing said, “Our fans go crazy, they’re hardcore, they even throw sheep’s eyeballs at us!” Naturally, the next time we went on stage, there were hundreds of them flying through the air. They must have cleaned out all the LocaL butchers’ shops.

Did you really ride a motorbike up Rik’s staircase?

AE:Yeah, I did get it to the top, but unfortunately the landing was too narrow to turn around. There was no terrible Eddie Kidd moment, but I remember the embarrassment of trying to get it back down. There was a lot of bravado and cheering when I went I up, but it felt a bit damp. And I must say, it happened in a low-roofed cottage, so it was a short staircase.

RM:It was still impressive.

And Rik, did you wipe a bogey on Gloria Hunniford?

AE:Or did you just come in her face?

RM:Well, not all of her face. It’s a wide face. Mostly in her mouth. Er, but the bogey thing is true, only she didn’t notice because she was looking away.

What was your closest brush with death?

AE: I spent some time in Uganda as a kid, where my dad was a school teacher, and we were involved in a sort of carjacking. We were driving behind two British army sergeants who were training the Ugandan army. They got stopped by some terrorist-type people who started pistol-whipping them. We were sat in our Little Renault 4, and then one of these guys shoved a pistol in the window. I was only 13, but I didn’t really scream because my two Little brothers were doing enough of that. Happily, it turned out that the terrorists were actually an army squad looking for terrorists, so that gives you some idea of the situation out there. Mind you, I did meet Idi Amin once. There was a great story about someone trying to kill him. He was walking along the street when someone threw a hand grenade at him, but it bounced right off his head and exploded in the crowd.

What was the worst job you had before you became famous?

AE:I worked in a pork pie factory, and there was a great list up every week, detailing all the foreign bodies that customers had complained about finding in their pies. It was very particular. There were pubic hairs, head hairs, nuts and bolts, toenail clippings, one chap even said he’d found some scissors in there… anyway, there were about 25 different named items, and then it got to something called “unidentified”, which I found very alarming.

RM:I was a roadsweeper…

AE:He did it as a hobby because he liked the fluorescent jacket.

RM:It was hot and boring and I learnt to hate schoochildren. I’d start at six in the morning and get the streets tidy, then they’d all go into the shops in the estate and drop hundreds of sweet wrappers. Little fuckers.

Apparently, you’ve both seen Tom “Lofty off EastEnders” Watt stark naked

AE: Yeah, he did drama at University with us, and he was in a theatre group called Inner Threat, whose defiant stand against society involved always doing naked shows. He played a naked tree in Waiting For Godot and he pissed on one of the actors. Then there was this girl called Fiona who had to symbolise giving birth, and the other actors slowly pulled a long ribbon out of her fanny. It must have taken ages to get up there. It was huge. They passed it through the audience.

The Young Ones was about psychotic students, but who was the worst one you met at college?

AE:There was one medical student we knew who thought these people in the pub had looked at his bird “in a funny way”. So he followed their bus home in his car, and when each one got out at a stop, he braked and beat them up.

RM: There was another medic who stole a knob from one of the corpses they were dissecting, and he took it into a public toilet. There was always a big queue there, and when he got to the urinal he stood there going, “Come on! Fucking come on!”, as though talking to his knob. This went on for five minutes, until he said, “Fuck this!”, took out a knife and pretended to slice it off. He threw it on the floor and two people fainted.

Adrian, you got done for drunk driving, and said afterwards, “I agree with everything the magistrate said.” Wasn’t that a bit wimpy?

AE: Well, you have to, don’t you? It just meant I had to ride my bicycle pissed instead. I know you shouldn’t drink and drive, but I do. Often to my cost, in fact, Like the time I was on my motorbike. It was one of those old BMWs with the cylinders that stick out the side, and I was overtaking some people, unaware that there was a car coming the other way. It was a very narrow gap, and I ended up on the ground. It was obviously my fault, but I didn’t have any insurance, so I went to the first bloke and said, “Look, I’LL just pay for it, eh?” He was fine with that but sadly the second man turned out to be a policeman. I took my helmet off expecting to be nicked, but as soon as he saw me, he went, “You’re that Vyvyan! From The Young Ones!” Not only did he let me off, he even gave me a lift home. I sat there trying not to look drunk, not even breathing in his direction, and I got away with it right up until the very end when I got out of his car. That’s when I slammed the door on my thumb. So I’m going, “Awfff… furrr… eaaargh,” and he winds down the window and says, “You could make that into one of your skits, couldn’t you?”

Talking of skits, is it true you once got two huge nylon bags and performed a theatrical piece entitled “God’s Testicles”?

AE: Yes, it was meant to be God’s bollocks, but we couldn’t work out how to hang them from the ceiling. So it became the somewhat less spectacular “Man Getting out of a Nylon Bag”

Rik Tries Some Really Sick Humour

By Simon Collins for The West Australian, 26th July 2000

Welcome to Guest House Paradiso: the worst hotel in the world. It’s a crumbling Victorian Gothic ruin perched on a cliff top, next to a nuclear power station. The chef’s drunk, the rooms smell and the hosts – manager Richie Twat (pronounced Thwaite) and partner Eddie Elizabeth Ndingombaba – are rude and incompetent. It makes Fawlty Towers seem like the Ritz. Guest House Paradiso is the setting for the feature film debut of Richie and Eddie, the violent, nasty characters inhabited by Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson since they met at Manchester University in September 1975. The film also marks the directorial debut of Edmondson, who revels in the relative freedom of the big screen by making this comedy climax in a tsunami of projectile vomiting.

Mayall – barely surviving a marathon interview session in Sydney – says his constant collaborator took these puking scenes seriously. “He had lots of colours to choose from,” he explains. “They sent him videos of people being sick in different colours.” Edmondson settled on bright lime green.

The offensive vomiting scene is the culmination of 25 years of Mayall and Edmondson portraying basically the same violent characters on television in The Young Ones (as Rick and Vyvyan), Filthy, Rich and Catflap (as Richard and Eddie), Mr Jolly Lives Next Door (Richard and Eddie again) and Bottom (Richie Richard and Eddie Hitler).

Mayall states that Guest House Paradiso is not the Bottom  film, nor is it the Young Ones film, explaining the movie is just the beginning.

“For whatever failings it may have – of which it has none, in my opinion – this is now regarded by us as a pilot,” he says. “Not that there will be a Guest House 2 and 3, but there will be other films of ours with Richie and Eddie. Just like Laurel and Hardy, they set them in prisons, or the foreign legion…different stories, but the link will be Richie and Eddie.”

Laurel and Hardy were a common love that bonded Edmondson and Mayall when they met all those years ago, along with the Road Runner and early Tom and Jerry cartoons. The latter’s influence is especially easy to spot in Guest House Paradiso, with the duo attacking each other with frying pans, skewers and other kitchen items.

Mayall has enjoyed some film and theatre success without his offsider, most notably in 1991’s Drop Dead Fred. The 42-year-old comedian says he got involved in theatre because he “couldn’t be bothered” with sports and the lessons were “too straight”. Mainly, he trod the boards because he’s a “very vain person”.

“I’d be up onstage and there’d be a huge amount of people sitting in the dark, looking at me,” Mayall says. “I liked that a lot.”

How does his pride handle some scenes in Guest House Paradiso, especially when he creeps around the wretched hotel in red rubber underwear?

“It doesn’t matter as long as someone is looking at me,” he laughs.

“I’ve always played thoroughly unpleasant people and I like that. It’s probably something to do with expunging all the things you disapprove of about yourself.

“I tried to be a nice, normal bloke… but when you’ve got this mass of things you’ve suppressed in yourself – vanity, violence, selfishness, lust – you’ve got a garage full of high-octane emotions.

“When I’m in character, I get rid of all the things I disapprove of about myself.”

Recently, Mayall has had cause to take stock of his life. A four-wheeler motorbike accident in April 1998 left him in a coma for several days and it’s pretty much a miracle that he survived – let alone made a full recovery. Apart from conceding that the accident delayed the film “a bit”, Mayall refuses to become serious about his neardeath experience.

“I love that because it makes me sound even more interesting,” he says with mock arrogance. “What’s even more interesting was that I fell off the bike on the Thursday before Good Friday. My daughter Rosie now calls it Crap Thursday.

“I was going to die on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and then on the Sunday the doctor said, `I think he’s going to pull through’. Guess what day it was when it was announced I was going to live. That’s right – Easter Monday.”

Mayall holds back from claiming, a la John Lennon, that he’s bigger than Jesus, but he does quip: “I’m younger and I have a slimmer tummy”.

And he also announces: “There’s a sense of celebration in this film, the fight in the kitchen especially. There’s a glee in the violence.”

The Day I Nearly Died

By Pam Francis for TV Times, 21st-27th October 2000

Funny man Rik Mayall has finally fulfilled his TV fantasy, but one black day two years ago it could have been a very different story…

Using his filthy, sneering Alan B’Stard voice, Rik Mayall asks me to step into his ‘babe trap’. Well, believe me, there aren’t many babes who would want to be trapped in this caravan cum dressing room which conjures up memories of the pad he used to share as a no-hoper with Adrian Edmonson’s character in Bottom. Untidy is hardly the word and he seems to have had a serious argument with the curtains which are hanging off their rail.

‘Oh yeah. Well I thought it was a bit dark, so I moved the curtains back a little and they all fell off.’

To my left, it appears he’s also gone four rounds trying to slide open the window. ‘Oh yeah that fell out too,’ he explains sheepishly, trying in vain for a moment to fix it back in.

The thing you quickly learn about Rik is that he never stays still for a moment. A pure vision of funny faces and even funnier voices.

It’s obvious he’s excited about his first serious acting role in ITV’s Customs and Excise drama, The Knock. Not least because, as smoothie businessman Simon Reid, it gives him a chance to perform his first sex scene on TV, which I am about to see re-enacted snog by snog.

For Rik, 42, it became important to get his body in shape for stripping off. ‘I’d been running and doing my press-ups because I knew I was going to get my kit off. I’ve never had a sex scene before. Not a proper one anyway.

‘Oh yes, you’re definitely going to see my bits — the shot lasts about four seconds.’

The other half of this scene is Julianne White, the same actress who he almost had his wicked way with on screen when he was Alan B’stard in The New Statesman. All those years ago, B’stard had left her handcuffed to a water bed and then got locked out with just a towel round his waist and the neighbours calling the police.

‘So this time we got to finish what we started. You’ve got the director kneeling next to the bed and there is Julianne and I on top, snogging. So we’ve got this shot that starts on the bottle of champagne, ranges across the floor, over her knickers, up to us snogging,’ says Rik re-living the passion as he contorts furiously — acting out each role, including that of director, soundman and cameraman, if that’s possible.

‘So she turns me over like this, gets the champagne, pours it into my mouth and down my body and then licks it off.’

By this point his excitement has reached fever pitch. And I ache with laughing at the un-sexiest sex scene in the history of TV which I am sure will look right on the night.

Rik says he enjoyed the role so much that he even saved the character from a nasty death. ‘He was going to be shot. But I liked Simon so much because he’s seriously clever and so naughty. That’s why I took the part because they’ll be saying: “Isn’t Rik Mayall good at shagging!”‘

He is so irreverent in many ways, yet, when you least expect it, he quietens down and becomes quite humble. Especially when he talks about his own recovery from head injuries which nearly killed him two years ago — a day his children now refer to as Crap Thursday.

It was Easter and he’d returned home to his Devon farmhouse where he took his quad bike out for a ride. Within minutes it had overturned, leaving him with such severe head injuries that his family was warned he may not live.

Deep in thought for a moment he sits very still. ‘You know, I’m trying to resist turning into a soft old celeb, but I could easily. I’m just lucky. I was pleasantly surprised by how many people love me. Loved me!!! People in the street telling me off, in a nice way, for shocking them. Saying, “What did you want to do that for you twit. I was worried for six months you were going to die”.’

So was his wife Barbara, his children Rosie, 13, Sydney, 11, Bonnie, four, his parents and all his friends. One of the small miracles that helped was the disappearance of the blood clot from his brain which would have needed surgery.

Once on the road to recovery Rik was determined to re-build his life and his career. ‘I could have laid back and said I still feel ill. But that wasn’t of interest to me. I wanted to be up and acting and grooving about. I didn’t want to be lying in bed feeling sorry for myself. No fun in that.’

And the jokes keep coming: Rik’s coming off the pills he had to take to prevent epilepsy and he’s looking forward to drinking alcohol again. ‘I’ll probably stop my pills, have a pint of lager and get run over by a truck.’

But there are times when he still re-lives the moment he was about to take Bonnie and her cousin Red, aged three, out for a ride.

‘I put them on the fuel tank in front of me. But as I turned left, I felt two or three drops of rain on my arm and thought: “Whoa Rik, this is stupid”. So I took them off, went round the corner and fell off the bike, that’s all I remember. You know, they wouldn’t have lived. They would have been dead and I would not, stupid thing to say, be happy. That would be irretrievable. That’s stringing-yourself-up time.’

Is he religious?’ Not yet. I have avoided that question. Adrian sometimes says to me: “Well you’re going to end up a vicar”, because that’s what he reckons.’

Now the two have reincarnated their Bottom characters in Guest House Paradiso and are starting work on a new movie.

Is Adrian nicer to him now? ‘No he’s a complete bastard, always has been. Yes, he is. He’s always been nice to me, he’s my best friend and he looked after me.’

Now Rik is called for his next scene and, as I prepare to leave, he pretends to believe I’ve already gone as he reverts to his paranoid frantic Alan B’stard voice. ‘Got to do a shot. Haven’t taken my cocaine. Oh God, she’s still here.’

Rik Mayall Interview

Radio Undercover, August 2000

Rik Mayall is a very funny man. Well he should be because that’s his job. You might know him from such shows as The Young Ones and Bottom and you might get to know him from his new movie Guest House Paradiso. He popped by Undercover to talk to Paul Cashmere

Rik Mayall (RM): You don’t know who I am… well, you do, but I don’t know who you are… but I might? I’m not going to tell you when this is recording, but you might know? Perhaps what I’m trying to say is… I know you. Something may have been invented in the future, in order for me to be recreated from the past, and then to be pushed back particularly to where you are now. You may not understand, but you will perhaps one day, as long as you’re a good boy, or girl, and you play the game. Now the way to play the game, is to go and get information from the source, and the source is Guest House Paradiso, my film. Paul is here to talk to me…

Paul (PC): Rik Mayall. It’s a pleasure to have you along, and welcome back to the year 2000.

RM: Oh thank you. Oh fucking hell, you’ve given the fucking time away! It’s 2004.

PC: 2004, yes… ahhh… the video’s been out for a couple of years now…

RM: Yeah, don’t try and hush it up, use their imagination. Right, we’ll start again. Paul!

PC: We’d like to welcome Rik Mayall, star of Guest House Paradiso, which is currently doing the rounds at the cinema’s, or on video right now if you’re looking at this a couple of years into the future.

RM: The old movie from ten years ago! What would you like to know Paul? I’ll tell you practically anything!

PC: Well tell us about your old sparring partner Ade Edmonson, he’s been your partner for around 25 years now, that’s a long time to be around anyone isn’t it?

RM: Well, I’ve tried to get him into bed now for twenty five years, but I still haven’t, but in Guest House Paradiso, nothing could be further from the truth. There’s a nude scene in it. I guarantee if you buy a ticket and keep your eyes open, you will see Ade Edmonson’s arse. You will also see Eddy’s arse, and you will also see my penis. Yes you will! It doesn’t matter if you’re young, because there’s not much to be scared of.

PC: Now that was a stand in thing wasn’t it ?

RM: No! It’s all covered up in a chef’s hat! Well, Eddy has a full chef’s hat, and I have, you know that thing that they call a rack of lamb? They have it in really posh restaurants, and it’s basically the rib cage of a sheep, and they put little chef’s hats on the top here, and that’s what I have to cover up my penis.

PC: Let’s get straight to the vomit scene shall we? There are two movies that spring to mind, one is The Exorcist, and the other is now Guest House Paradiso.

RM: Oh yeah, I’ve thought of another one…

PC: Oh? There’s another one? Fill me in!

RM: Mr Creosote.

PC: I’m not familiar with that one.

RM: Mr Creosote exploded because he ate too much in the Python movie. Ade actually went to Terry Jones and discussed vomit with him, yes he did! Because he was a Python, and we were very honoured to be able to talk to a Python. He said colour was the problem, some people may laugh, some may not laugh, but Ade decided he’s the director, so green is the colour. We have not been able to work with vomit in twenty five years! You can’t do it on stage, because it’s practically impossible. Unless you want to make a big mess, and then work on the same set, you can’t do it on telly, because of the BBC, the BBC would not let us. In The Young Ones, you could be sick but you could not see the sick. In Basil, there’s a scene with me and Addy and I’m heaving but I have to heave behind him. It’s very important, because you could slip over later, as a feed line for a related joke. There was a very funny scene when I was going to be sick all over Eddy but I couldn’t. I had to go into a toilet and be sick on my own. The BBC do not like sick, so we supplemented so many vomit jokes. Finally we got control of our art form, which is directing and writing and not having these bloody suits and tie telling us what to do. Fuck them! We just did our thing, and so these vomit gags became a week long vomit sequence that was shot.

PC: Twenty five years in the making?

RM: Which is why there is so much of it, but believe it or not, it was cut down a little bit.

PC: What’s the recipe for the vomit?

RM: Trade secret mate! Trade secret. There’s a lot… Well the technicians went away to start on the colour, inspired by Terry Jones. They sent a tape of the poor little lad who was the assistant to the special effects bloke, with this tube next to him so he could be sick. They made this tape and Ade and a couple of the special effects boys were standing around very seriously, watching this tape saying “Yeah, this is good here…” and the little kid comes out and goes “ARGH!!!” like that, and they’re going, “…yeah that’s good, that’s good, wind it up… and this is good this next scene, this is more orange.” They called it Tandoori Special, that’s what they actually called it and this kid came up and was sick all over the wall! It should be on the fucking Internet because this tape is just so funny and what was even more funny was that these guys were there going “Yes, that’s good, that’s good” like all these grown ups, with me at the back of the room pissing myself laughing!

PC: Is he different as a director?

RM: Well, he’s not Addy, he’s Adrian!

PC: So is he in serious mode when he’s in director mode?

RM: He’s in command. He’s a good leader, but he doesn’t lead emotionally, he leads in command and inspires confidence. He gets things arranged, and they are arranged and they are done, but we’re not exactly the same, because Ade would go off and organise stuff while I go off masturbating.

PC: What about you guys as a business relationship? Do you hang out on the weekend together or is it very much a go to work thing and that’s where you guys hang out?

RM: Well we used to hang out together but we got married, had a few kids. Basically the weekends are that we’re allowed to watch our wives shopping. We take our money home and give it to them and then our wives let us go out and get more money. Sometimes they put the kids in the same room as us.

PC: So yo u’re a great baby-sitter as well then?

RM: Yes of course…

PC: Now Guest House, it sort of reminded me of Three Stooges, meets Fawlty Towers.

RM: How dare you! Are you suggesting we stole the Three Stooges? Are you suggesting that just because there was a rather dull sitcom twenty five years ago, are you suggesting we stole it?

PC: Well yeah…

RM: Oh. Well you’re right, sorry go on. John Cleese is a very good and dear friend of mine.

PC: Are you fans of all those shows though?

RM: Of course, John is my dearest friend, and he loves me very much, don’t you John? And I love him! And that’s why we didn’t steal anything from Guest House Paradiso, I mean… Fawlty Towers. It’s Fawlty Towers Paradiso… Guest House Towers… okay look, when the nipple ring comes in, my very good friend and dear lover, Simon Peg, had his nipple pierced for him to have his nipple ring pulled off. It was very painful for him but he did it because he’s a good boy.

PC: That was some amazing photography of the flesh tearing…

RM: Yeah, it’s very good, very good work, and Simon was very brave. Okay, there was a bit of a dummy nipple, I don’t know if I should be giving this away.

PC: I didn’t know i t was a dummy nipple?

RM: This should go down in comedy history because there was a bit where the body of the character Simon was playing was drawn up and banged on the ceiling. Ade kept saying “Simon, you’re going to have to do it again, I need to see your face really get hit, you don’t mind do you?” and he said “No, no no!” Because Simon was a bit of a fan you see? So there was this one plank behind his back, and a sheet covering it, and these three or four techies pulling him up and banging his face on the ceiling.

PC: Well that scene brought a tear to my eye, and so did the nutcrack er scene.

RM: The nutcracker scene, yes those were my testicles. I’m not joking, they really were!

PC: I bet you weren’t laughing!

RM: No, I had testicle protection. I had invented a sort of testicle bra, which sort of hung my testicles in a rather revealing way. I’m thinking of marketing it because I think it’s a new fashion thing, the testicle bra. They sort of enhance your testicles. Ladies have enhanced their breasts for centuries. Why can’t we enhance our testicles and walk around like that? Have a little cleavage on the edge of your knob with a couple of bollocks hanging out the side. I think it would be rather sexy but as you get fatter and older, the one thing you don’t get is that your balls don’t shrink — in fact, they get bigger. So, if you want to shag an old man, come my way, unless you’re a psychopath. If you’re a psychopath using your computer, fuck off, for anyone else, come and get a shag. Oh and Barbara, if it’s you watching, I’m only joking!

PC: Everyone gets to see it. There are no secrets.

RM: Aren’t there? Oh… let’s do the blowjob now then!

PC: The marvelous violent scenes in the movie, Adrian getting his head run over by the truck, we talked about the testicle…

RM: The least one you expect is the pants exploding. Addy comes to pop the pants and it blows him through the side of the hotel, it’s brilliant.

PC: And I guess rubber underwear is some thing that’s very very dear to any Australian, so that was obviously a very funny scene to anyone in this hemisphere.

RM: But the English as well, the family that we call the ‘nice’ family. They’re nice and they’ve got the kids. Because it’s the wedding anniversary and it’s all they can afford, they’ve brought their rubber underwear. He’s got his little nipple ring and you know, there’s nothing wrong with it…it can be sexy…but Richard had to corrupt his little pleasure and when he puts them on he can’t get them off. Once again he can’t get them off! Yeah actually, that was really good I had serious balls, good for me! I was crawling around in the walls between the rooms in the bra for a long time and I wasn’t allowed knee pads. Oh, and the candle in the eye was good.

PC: Yes, there was no disclaimer at the end of the movie, “No English comedians were injured during the making of this movie”. Why was that?

RM: Well, because they didn’t want it on, because it would make them look l ike the worst actor.

PC: Did anything hurt?

RM: Yeah, a lot but we’re not allowed to say it. The bollocks hurt a lot but I did have a bollock protector. I remember at the rehearsal, it’d be like ” Now honestly guys, I just want you to tell me if this hurts” *crunch* and I was like, “Honestly, it hurts Adrian” I shouted.

PC: There’s some very nice scenery in the movie too, made in the Isle Of Wright…

RM: Well, let’s be sexist about it. It was beautiful.

PC: Now, Mr Twat…

RM: Cunt.

PC: How does that go down in America though, because they wouldn’t know what a twat was would they?

RM: Twat no, twat (pronounced differently) yes.

PC: We’d say Twat…

RM: Oh do you? We say twat. Twat is pussy. They say pussy.

PC: We say twat.

RM: We say cunt. Do you say can’t? We say that because we do shag and drink beer…

PC: We hear a lot of you can’t.

RM: We can’t? We don’t get the opportunity and even if we did we wouldn’t! We’re so fucked up, erection is a word unheard of in my country. How we breed, I don’t know.

PC: What about the United States?

RM: The film hasn’t been released.

PC: Is it going to be released over there? Because the twat joke would go right over their heads .

RM: Well, we use twat. There’s the word twit for instance, meaning “You silly nilly”. A harder word is twat, which incidentally also means a ladies vagina. Because we’re post P.C. (politically correct) it’s kind of acceptable to say it now but it’s not really. I come f rom a generation that said cunt and then we were told that it’s not politically correct to say cunt, so we didn’t say cunt. Then they were more relaxed so we could say cunt again. So, we said cunt but we couldn’t say cunt because it was on television so we said let’s get a picture together. We got a picture together and finally we could say cunt, so we said cunt and now it’s so fucking stupid and unnecessary, I put this whole film together just so I could say the word cunt. Now this fucking computer thing has changed the world so I can say cunt anyway! My whole life just so I could say cunt and now I can say it! So let’s just say “cunt” and have it done with.

PC: I was a bit disappointed to see that Cliff wasn’t in the movie, was he invited into the movie?

RM: That’s a dark area…

PC: Because you’re the man who made him famous all over again. That was my idea before he was Sir Cliff.

RM: Yes, it was Sir Cliff.

PC: Can you still mix in the same circles?

RM: That’s a grey area, I don’t want to go to… far into it… what’s the next question?

PC: Well I was going to ask another Cliff question, but I don’t think I should now!

RM: No, no… Sir Cliff’s life is his. Why should I intrude?

PC: You haven’t been offered a knighthood or anything have you?

RM: I’ll tell you something that is good and lordable that makes me rather proud, when the fuck was it? I think it was last Autumn, I can’t remember very well, this I can’t remember specifically. Okay! So Tony Blair, who is currently the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Tony Blair who’s daughter was in The Exorcist and we used her also for the vomit scene in Guest House Paradiso and she did a very good job. She didn’t need to be on camera, she could just fill the place any time she wanted. She asked all the hot groovy, groovy comedians, to number 10 Downing St, which is the address of the British Prime Minister. She asked Ben E lton, a very talented man, Harry Enfield, and all these comedians who were all happy and middle aged and groovy. We were not invited to number 10 Downing St. We weren’t! Everyone else was! It was a happening event, so we were thoroughly disapproved of, as always by any British establishment. I brought down Thatcher single handedly to let Tony Blair in. Did he thank me? Did he invite me? No! So the last part of labour tradition in Britain is Linda Blair, his daughter. I asked her to come and be in my film, and she puked all over the set brilliantly.

PC: Fabulous, and I think that just abo ut wraps us up with Rik Mayall. Guest House Paradiso is the new movie…

RM: The most happening movie from ten years ago or fifteen or whatever. Remember, you want to see it all? Go see the movie.

Rik Mayall Interview

For This Is Brighton And Hove, 29th November 2000

The (slighlty less) young one Rik was alarmed when he suddenly realised he could not tell the difference between colours but was horrified to discover the crash would mean he could never drink again. ‘That’s when you know it’s serious’ Rik Mayall’s near-death experience after crashing his quad bike had some serious repercussions for the popular comic as Jakki Phillips discovered.

Rik Mayall smokes deeply, nods gently and makes sympathetic noises as I tell my story.

I was 13 years old when I suffered a serious head injury after roller skating backwards into a tree.

I don’t remember the accident but my friends tell me the impact of the collision snapped a branch and left me unconscious on the pavement in a pool of blood and twigs.

What I do remember is waking up in Plymouth’s Derriford hospital and not being able to say my own name.

Then I remember a massive pain racing between my temples, hours of vomiting, double vision and a nasty dent in my head.

After a week in hospital I was released with my brain, memory, vision and spirit intact.

My parents banned me from skating for a month but after that I was back down the local rink with the rest of my roller hockey chums.

When I finish Mayall hands me a cigarette, lights it and stares probingly into my eyes.

I want him to talk about the quad biking accident which nearly killed him two years ago. After reading press cuttings from the time I discovered he lives in Devon, near my parents, and was also taken to Derriford hospital after the crash.

I am working on a philosophy of shared experience. We both banged our heads in the pursuit of adventure, both spent time in Derriford hospital and now we’re both sitting in a London theatre, Mayall promoting his new play A Family Affair which comes to Brighton on December 4, and me gathering information about his life, career and near-death experience.

He leans forward and whispers, “After the accident, did you ever suffer ….?”

“A fit,” I answer and shake my head. “No, thankfully I didn’t.”

“I’vvvvve gggggt epppillllepppsy, he slurs in true Bottomesque fashion, lolling his head from side to side and rolling his eyes, “but I rarely admit it.”

Now he’s pure Young Ones. “Because those bloody film and theatre producer people won’t bloody like it”, he says running his fingers through his slick-back hair and tapping his feet maniacally.

I take a drag on my cigarette and look for an ash tray.

“Where should I flick my ash?” I ask.

“Any old where, I don’t care, cause I’m Rik Mayall and it’s you who is going get in trouble” he says with a wink and a rat-like sneer.

From deep and meaningful we’ve leapt into a minefield of naughtiness. It’s almost as though I ask a question and Rik selects the appropriate character to answer for him; Rik from The Young Ones, Ritchie from Bottom, Kevin Turvey or the mischievous Drop Dead Fred.

It seems Rik is as much a product of his characters, as his characters are a product of him.

His career parades itself in his personality and you can’t help but be charmed by his snotty schoolboy humour, his playful arrogance and his “is that a canoe in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me” type charm.

Rik knocks back his second double espresso and leans forward as though addressing his secret gang. (Actually it’s just me and a photographer but I guess we’ll do).

“I take epilepsy pills but the p***er is, they’re counter acted by alcohol.”

Right on cue we gasp at the thought of life without booze.

“And that is when peoples’ faces really go white,” he says tapping his ash in our direction as though punctuating our guilt.

“People say yeh, you fell off your quad bike, yeh unconscious for five days, yeh nearly dead, and now you can’t drink …you can’t drink!”.

As Mayall laughs his blue eyes dart about like hyperactive roulette ball, one a little slower than the other.

When they settle in their sockets he strokes back a lose hair, reclines in his chair, arms folded, foot hoisted up on his knee and says “So you went back to roller hockey then? I haven’t been back on the quad bike yet, but I haven’t decided what to do with it.

“It’s just sitting in my barn. I go in, look at it and it looks at me. I haven’t even touched it. Perhaps I’ll just set it on fire, or push it over a cliff, something big and glamorous.”

Mayall talks about his accident with poetic and often humourous honesty but the experience is obviously still, fresh, vivid and frighteningly real for the 41-year-old father of three.

“I had been working with Stephen Fry on a film for television. I came back home for the Easter Holidays to see my wife Barbra and the kids. When I arrived Barbra was busy working so I went out on my quad bike.

“My little daughter Bonnie, who was two at the time, and her cousin Red, had followed me out to the shed and they were asking for a ride. I said no, it’s too dangerous but she was going ‘pleeeeeease daddy’, so I said all right and put them both on the petrol tank and off we went. But as I drove out of the shed, I felt rain on my arm. I thought, ‘come on Rik this is too dangerous’, so, thank God, I lifted them off and told Sid, my son, to take them inside. If I hadn’t they’d be dead now.”

With his children safely inside Mayall started his first lap of their property, which used to be a cattle farm and is mostly grass except for one small concrete path.

“It’s unbelievable that with miles of grass I had to fall off on the concrete. Just unbelievable,” he sighs.

“Barbie told me she looked out the window and saw me lying on my back, in the rain, with the quad bike upside down and said to herself ‘yeh yeh very funny Rik’, and went back to work. Then five minutes later she looked out and thought ‘Oh God, he’s still doing it, I better go out and pretend I’m surprised’ and thank God she did. When she found me there was dark blood oozing from my nose, mouth, ears and eyes. That was Thursday, what my family now call Crap Thursday, because it was the day before Good Friday. I was supposed to die on Sunday, interestingly, that was Easter Day. It sounds as if I’ve romanticised this story, but it’s true. On the Sunday the doctors changed their minds and told my wife that I may wake up.”

Rik eventually regained consciousness on the Monday.

“Now when you’re a boy, and you wake up in the morning, the first thing you do is check your nob. So my first memory is this I remember opening my eyes and thinking, f***, how drunk was I last night. Where the hell am I?

So I check my nob and there was this tube coming out of it, and I thought what the f***, I can’t even remember the party. Christ what’s that in my nob. So I thought right, I’m getting this out. So I pulled at the tube, but just as I was about to rip my nob off, (don’t worry, don’t worry fans),” he sniggers, “four birds in nurses uniforms jumped on the bed, and started shoving the tube back in my nob and I thought, ‘hoorah, the party’s not over yet baby. Lets rock ‘n’ roll!”

Rik is exhaustingly fidgety. He is in and out of his seat, pulling faces, flinging his limbs about like a master storyteller, and throughout he thrives on making us laugh.

“But then,” he bursts out with a big chuckle, “it transpired my wife was there as well and I thought, ‘what sort of party is this?’ But then things started getting really weird and I realised it was a proper hospital and that there must have been an accident.”

Doctors later told Rik that three fifths of his brain had been swamped by blood and were unable to function.

“The brain is like a spaghetti of roots, and motorways, which are attached to each other, a jungle if you like. I had to re-route all my thoughts cause those motorways were blocked. My brain was trying to think but really odd things were happening. I could hear colour, see smells, but I couldn’t communicate any of this because my memory of words had gone.”

During the next month, Rik’s condition steadily improved and he was eventually moved to a London hospital for further tests.

“I remember going for a walk with my son Sid. I thought I was a lot better but when we got outside the hospital I remember standing in the street looking at all these blossom trees and suddenly I had this urge to get each piece of blossom, every petal, and put it under the correct tree.

“The road was full of blossom trees and cars were driving past and beeping at me. I was shouting, ‘f*** off’, because I was getting angry.

Each time I put a piece of blossom under a tree it would blow away.

“I knew my head wasn’t quite right and after more tests the doctor told me the blood in my head wasn’t going.

Apparently the body is supposed to ingest the blood and then you poo it out, but in my case, that wasn’t happening.”

To this day Rik is convinced that his doctor helped save his life by “scaring” the blood from his brain.

“It had been seven weeks and the blood was still there. My doctor called me to his office, and I think this was some sort of technique, but he put his hands on my head and said ‘if the blood has not gone in two days, I’m going to take the top of your head off, from here to here (Rik runs his finger from temple to temple).

“We’ll go inside your head, take the blood out and then sow you up’. As you can imagine, I f***ing s**t myself but I pretended to be calm and went along with it saying, ‘yeh, seems like a good idea to me’, and then I went home and went ‘Arrrrrrggggghhhhhhh’.

“But there was nothing I could do so I waited two days, tick tick tick, and finally the time came. I went back to the hospital and they put me back in the head scanning machine with all these f***ing cameras going round my head and I was thinking, ‘Oh f*** he’s working out where every single bit of blood is and then he’s going to open my head and take it out and it’s going to leave me with serious brain damage and I’m going to die. . . f***’

“After the scan I waited hours then he called me into his office and said ‘I don’t get this Rik. The blood has just completely gone.’ I wonder sometimes if it was his last card, as though he thought I’ll scare the blood out and it obviously worked.

“If you say to the brain, ‘Look, if you don’t get rid of that blood in two days I’m going to rip you to pieces’, your brain thinks, ‘Right we’d better get rid of this blood then’. But I had just spent weeks learning to use certain parts of my brain and then suddenly the blood had gone, my brain was clean and open and it was like wooooo.

“So I got really confused again, but anyway it’s a happy story and I’m supposed to be talking about the play.”

Rik returned to the stage for the first time since his accident on October 16 in the UK premiere of Family Affair by Agnes Jaoui and Jean-Pierre Bacri.

“If I wasn’t ready I wouldn’t go back. The real reason I’m going back to theatre work is cause I want to, because there is nothing I enjoy better than working in front of an audience. I’m not in it for the cash. It’s not like I’m going to Hollywood, with my hat on backwards and my gun held sideways, for millions of pounds. We’re doing some proper f***ing theatre here. Real stuff, grrrrrrrrrrr, I’m hungry. I want to do it.”

Rik Mayall stars in the subtle, amusing and observant comedy, based on the French play and film Un Air De Famille, alongside Anne Reid, who recently appeared in Dinnerladies, Stephen Pacey and Susan Wooldridge. A Family Affair opens at the Theatre Royal on December 4 and runs until December 9.

Interesting New Work with Fart Jokes

By Bob Gordon for X-Press, July 2000

“You’re the first interviewer we’ve had… and the nicest.”

It wasn’t one of these serious film interviews, frankly. And thank God for that as Rik Mayall (he of the above) and Adrian Edmondson indulged in a battle royale of fact and underpants talk on the campaign trail for their new film, Guest House Paradiso.

The pair again join forces as Richie and Eddie, the proprietors of a rundown hotel somewhere in England where the only thing exceeding their extreme behaviour to their guests and to each other is the 15 minute vomit frenzy that makes up the film’s closing sequence.

By this time of course, Mayall and Edmondson are dab hands at comic extremities. The pair met some 25 years ago at Manchester University and while they both have found success doing individual projects, their jointwork has been their most successful from the seemingly unforgettable The Young Ones to Filthy, Rich and Catflap, The Dangerous Brothers and Bottom.

Co-written by the pair and directed by Edmondson, Guest House Paradiso is their first film together and is every bit the punch-throwing, piss taking, bottom-burping rollercoaster that has characterised all of the pair’s previous work. This week’s X-Press Interview was conducted down the line to Melbourne a few weeks ago. Chockful of banter, it seemed Edmondson would often open the line of answering, with Mayall coming in secondly to take the joke just one step further. Kind of like everything they’ve ever made, really.

Guest House Paradiso opens in Perth cinemas today, Thursday, July 27.

When did the concept for Guesthouse Paradiso come up and what were the seeds of the idea?

Edmondson: It came up during the last tour, we do these Bottom tours, two hours of live sitcom. We tour around Britain and we stay in a lot of hotels. We’ve stayed in a lot of crap hotels and the idea sort of grew from that.

Yes, you’d both be quite au fait with hotel life. What would be the worst you’ve stayed in?

Edmondson: It was actuary one in Scarborough. It wasn’t actually a really bad hotel but the week after we left it, it fell into the sea. That s actually true (laughs).

Mayall: They had this nice sort of wing sticking out the side and we were there. The Scarborough Theatre was a bit odd, the dressing rooms were a bit pokey, it was like getting changed in a cupboard. We thought ‘things should be better than this’. We went to the hotel and stayed there and thought ‘this is a bit crap actually’. We left and a week later the fucking hotel fell into the sea! The bit we were staying in as well.

Edmondson: I think it was because Rik left his pile of porn mags in the room (laughs).

Mayall: I’m just laughing modestly… but I had a couple of my Fiestas with me.

The initial thinking that people have about the film is to draw co with it to Fawlty Towers, but beyond the hotel based scenario it’s a whole different frenzy…

Edmondson: I think that’s right. There obviously are similarities… you know, its a hotel (laughs). He treated guests badly and so do we. But he didn’t ever catch anyone’s nipple ring on a fishing rod.

Mayall: He didn’t get blown up in the oven like that.

Or wear 10 foot wide red plastic underpants for that matter…

Mayall: No (laughs). I don’t mean to badmouth John Cleese at all…

Edmondson: But he was crap wasn’t he?

Mayall: Well no, no… he did hit a car with a twig. Very quickly.

In the area of underpants humour John Cleese was sadly lacking.

Mayall: Yeah. He never put a chef’s hat on his knob.

Is creating such an energetic and physical brand of comedy a funny process in itself, or is it simply too demanding to be like that?

Edmondson: It’s very good fun. To get a look of anarchy on screen you have to be very organised, ’cause real anarchy is just deadly dull. When you try and film it it just doesn’t work, you can’t catch it properly. One of the reasons we wanted to make a film is that we could properly film and get the proper framing for, you know, kicking the knackers.

All the kind of violence we do, we do in a hurry, normally. We wanted to film it like a cartoon, like a Roadrunner cartoon. This gave us the opportunity to do that. Not to say that it’s not very funny, take after take of trying to get Rik’s testicles in a pair of nutcrackers (Mayall laughs uproariously) is a rather amusing way to spend the day.

How long did the crushed nuts scene take to film?

Edmondson: Well actually that scene took about two-and-a-half days. The whole scene with the fight in the kitchen.

Mayall: One of the things I’m really proud of is that fight in the kitchen. T’was fantastique. It was done with such care and such precision. Three days, a total fight and a big one as well. Ade was directing and he was very careful and everything was great, never touched each other, didn’t even hurt once. Then he goes ‘okay we’ve got it, fantastic that’s a wrap’. I said ‘fantastic, turned around and walked into the camera and knocked myself out. It’s true! (laughs)

Adrian, as a director for the first time, was the world on your shoulders?

Edmondson: It was in a way, but it’s probably like childbirth — there’s some kind of drug in your body that makes you forget the horrible bits. I love doing it, it’s a fantastic thing to do. It’s like being given a huge box of paints and being allowed to paint on the walls. It’s a childish joy.

Rik, did he wave the big stick, or the big paintbrush for that matter?

Mayall: Well, he was so disciplined, not on himself…

Edmondson: Are you talking about my S&M fetish?

Mayall: Oh God, that was marvelous! (laughs). But he did run a very tight ship. He brought it in on time, and brought it in slightly under budget as I remember it.

Edmondson: (Assumes arty arty voice) It was a real artistic success, it was under budget (laughs).

Mayall: (Laughs) I was quite happy with the film, because he cast Ed very well and he pointed the camera at me a lot. So basically, he knows how to direct.

In reference to the much discussed closing sequence, the film’s production notes allude to a ‘tsunami of vomit’. That’s possibly the first time the words ‘tsunami’ and’vomit’ have appeared together in the same sentence. That’s probably a good thing.

Edmondson: We’re very proud of the fact that we had this little man from the special FX department who kept sending us videotapes of different kinds of vomit, different colours and different textures of vomit. Instead of being a special effects coordinator or whatever his title was on the film we gave him the credit ‘Vomit Technician’. I think it’s the first film ever with a Vomit Technician (both laugh).

Did you originally imagine the scene to be such a crescendo of bile or did it just keep building upon itself?

Edmondson: No, it was written a lot longer, and a lot larger (laughs). It was a written with Titanic-like corridors of vomit, but it was a low budget film. So we ended up doing a parody of the Harrison Ford film, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, with the ball of vomit. It was actually a lot funnier.

So if the nut crushing scene took two-and-a-half days to shoot, how long did it take to film the ‘tsunami of vomit?

Edmondson: That was a week, I’m afraid. A week in the vomitorium.

Mayall: It went from the vomit it corridor to the vomitorium.

A week of wading though all that gunk?

Edmondson: Oh, it was fucking horrible. There was this poor grip, who pushes the dolly along, he was running up and down the corridor all week long and he had this sort of yellow plastic bag with a couple of eyeholes (laughs). He kept getting stuck in the vomit because there was bits of foam in it to give it texture.

And no one to blame but yourselves…

Edmondson: I know. Although we very cleverly wrote it that we didn’t get any vomit on us (laughter). Which is just such a great idea.

Mayall: The nearest to angry my director ever got — ’cause we were under the gun a bit and we had to get it shot in only a week — was when I ran down, running away from the huge ball, turned left to get down the stairs, slipped over and got a load of puke up my arse. It was all in my costume. So he was a bit grumpy because I had to change my costume, which cost valuable time. I had to wash my hair and then dry it.

What are your writing sessions like? It seems quite easy to imagine you both sitting around a laptop gesticulating quite madly, unlike most writers who just sit there plodding away …

Edmondson: Well that’s exactly right, that’s what we do. It’s not that we don’t enjoy making them and performing, but I think the writing process is when we laugh more than any other time. We laugh at our own jokes endlessly, you know what I mean? They’re fantastic times, it’s when the jokes are born, really. So we hear them for the first time.

Mayall: That’s the best part.

Edmondson: People around the house… I mean I’ve had builders in my house for it seems like 10 fucking years, but they’re always coming up and complimenting me on how funny my writing must be. ‘I was coming downstairs and all I could hear was this laughter all day Iong’.

ou’ve commented that Richie and Eddie are the only two characters you can play and you’ve been playing them since the ’70s. Are they good to return to when you’ve both been off doing your individual projects?

Edmondson: Yeah they are, because they are part of us. I don’t mean a part of us because we play the characters, I mean there’s a lot of us in them.

Mayall: But we’re both actors as well. In as much as we’re interested in acting. So sometimes we go away and pretend to somebody else for a while and earn some money. The basis of our ouevre — that s the right word isn’t it? — is Richie and Eddie. Ooh-er-vre!

We alluded before to underpants. Can you expand on the recurring presence of underpants humour in your work?

Edmondson: They’re just the funniest thing in the world. The very word, ‘underpants’, is a word that seems to avoid the detail of what they do. They should be called…

Mayall: Penis drip catchers! With knocker holders (laughs).

Edmondson: (Laughs) A lot of our comedy is about embarrassment. And people avoid embarrassment. Underpants seem the pinnacle of people involving the issue.

Mayall: And it’s so fucking English. You guys love the English so much over here, that I think there’s some kind of connection.

I’m not sucking your knob, I mean I’d like to (laughs), but I think that’s why the Aussies understand it so well, because they understand what arseholes the English are. What tossers they are. They understand the embarrassment and the pretension which is what Richie and Eddie are all about. Failure!

Is the key to your partnership’s longevity attributable to years of near violent behaviour? Not so much venting spleens as rupturing them?

Edmondson: No, it’s mostly blackmail that’s kept us together (laughs).

Mayall: Um… there is a terrific pride in our work. I mean there is. We are constantly exploring new ways of doing some gag that we have not done before. Sure, there’s always the punch in the face, but that’s the baseline.

Edmondson: It’s our stock and trade.

Mayall: It’s our stock and trade. There’s other ways of doing things, I thought the nutcrackers was really masterpiece, but also the pencil up the arse isn’t bad.

Edmondson: The nipple ring was a new horizon in British slapstick I thought.

You’ve each done a great deal of work but especially in Australia one of the first links always made is ‘Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson from The Young Ones’. Could you have imagined that the series would have such a long-lasting impact?

Edmondson: Not really, although it depends what day you wake up. I mean some days you wake up and it doesn’t seem very long ago and some days it seems like years ago. There’s no problem with it at all, I’m very proud of The Young Ones and it’s fantastic that people still watch it. I wish they’d pay (laughs). I wish we’d been paid properly when we made it.

Mayall: Whatever strange deal the BBC did — of course I know nothing about it — but Bottom didn’t get released in a bigger way in Australia. But then I think it takes a bit of time for our stuff to catch on, which is why The Young Ones over here is the main thing.

Nigel Planer recently appeared in a Castrol as Neil, could you imagine donning the togs again this far down the track?

Edmondson: Well it’s easier for Nigel isn’t? ‘Cause he is a fucking old hippie (laughs).

Mayall: Donning the togs (laughs), for one more time… its like strapping the guns on isn’t it?

Edmondson: You know Richie and Eddie are really Rick and Vyvyan older. It’s the same relationship and the same impetus behind those two characters. So it’d be harder for us because there aren’t any kind of 43 year-old punks. Not that I know of.

The Sex Pistols are still out there somewhere…

Edmondson: Well exactly, I’d look like Johnny Rotten does now (laughs). Some fucked old windbag, endless complaining and getting into limos.

Mayall: (Laughs) Poor darling tosser!

Edmondson: The strange thing about Nigel’s character is that that hippie does still exist exactly like that. There’s 70 year-old hippies like that.

Mayall: That’s true, down in the West Country in England there are a lot of Neils about.

On the internet there was talk of asequel to Guest House Paradiso, is that on the cards?

Edmondson: I don’t think there’ll ever be a sequel to that story, but I think there’s acres of potential for another film with Richie and Eddie in it. Not Guesthouse II, but in some other situation.

Mayall: Laurel & Hardy would stride onto the screen and sometimes they’d be in a policeman’s uniform, or they might be in foreign legion outfits or convicts, you know? So definitely.

What about Hollywood.

Edmondson: Well… we’re not really very popular there. So we don’t think about them.

Mayall: (In a dramatic saving of face) No! We’re enormously popular there. Almost too popular. We’re surrounded by autograph hunters who normally work as film producers.

What’s up for the future?

Mayall: Mainly trying to clear the space to write with Ade. I think it’ll be the beginning of next year when we start getting together. We have got a very funny title for the next one and it does involve the word ‘shit’. We’re beginning to worry about that (laughs).

There won’t be any 15 minute dosing sequences we should be worried about?

Mayall: (Laughs) With shit? There is the possibility. We’ve done vomit now, excrement is quite wide open.

Slapschtick

By James Madden for The Weekend Australian, 22nd-23rd July 2000

It’s late afternoon and Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson are preparing for their umpteenth photo shoot of the day. They seem a little tired of all the attention. But as soon as the photographer starts snapping, it’s a different story. The performance begins.

Mayall. wearing a cowboy hat and a shirt so awful it would make Ken Done cringe, drops his pants. Edmondson draws the attention of bemused onlookers to his exposed friend.

Edmondson picks Mayall’s nose. Mayall jumps atop a pylon on the wharf and Edmondson does his best to push him into the harbour. Mayall tries to strangle Edmondson. Edmondson simulates giving Mayall oral sex.

And so it goes on. Sure. it could be a well-rehearsed routine but their reactions to each other’s fresh poses seem spontaneous. They’re like an old — albeit exhibitionist — couple who know what the other one is going to say before they’ve said it. Which is not surprising really, given that they have been writing, performing and directing together for more than 25 years.

Their marriage of violent slapstick and toilet humour has aged well and has continued into their new film, Guest House Paradiso.

Mayall and Edmondson play Richie and Eddie, proprietors of possibly the worst hotel in the world, a scenario that lends itself well to the kind of chaos that has been their fertile ground for the best part of their careers.

The film’s best scenes involve extreme violence, projectile vomit, burnt rubber undies and nipple abuse. It’s gross, totally over the top, gratuitous and… well, it’s pretty funny.

The plot is as ridiculous as you would expect but it does allow the two to do what they love best — that is, repeatedly beat each other up.

Over a very English snack of tea and biscuits, Mayall, 42, and Edmondson, 43, try to explain their unique brand of humour.

“Yeah, we do enjoy beating each other up,” says Edmondson, straightfaced. “The way we do it has never been done before, actually. Sure, people have always hit each other, but they’ve never done it with the same malice as we do.”

So there’s an art to the madness? “Oh yeah,” says Mayall. “We’ve got the beatings down to an art form. It’s a kind of dance and to get the timing right is a delicate thing. But that’s one of the great things about what we do we have the freedom to expunge all this frustration, onstage or on screen, in a way not many other humans do, except maybe a wrestler or a boxer.

“There may be a lady, for example, who might come up to me in Wool worth’s and say, ‘Oh, Mr Mayall, I saw you on the telly and I didn’t think you were very funny.’ And that may stay with me — the emotion it evokes inside for a year, until I get the chance to smash Ade around the face with a kettle or something. And then that negative emotion has gone,” he explains, only half-joking.

Edmondson agrees, although he paints a less violent metaphor. “Our performances are cathartic. It’s like a Greek tragedy in that sense.”

Tragedy of another kind almost struck just before the shooting of Guest House Paradiso was due to begin. Mayall was involved in a serious quadracycle accident and was in a coma for several days. The film was delayed for four months to allow him to recover, although the way the pair refer to the incident, you’d hardly know it was a near-death experience.

“The script was too long anyway, so my accident was kind of fortuitous,” Mayall says facetiously. “So while I was lying in hospital dying, the director himself [Edmondson] cut out most of my jokes, most of my lines!”

“I also set about recasting him,” Edmondson says, laughing.

“Yeah, Tom Cruise was on stand-by for the part, although I hear Mel Gibson was fighting hard for it,” retorts Mayall. “In fact,” he continues, “Ade’s written a script about my accident, but it’s mainly ‘ha ha ha, Rik’s dead, hooray hooray’. And then he dances off with all my birds.”

“All your birds?” queries Edmondson. “All right, all right — he dances off with my half can of lager and my porn mags — or my collection of vintage media, as I prefer them to be known.”

Mayall and Edmondson met at Manchester University in 1975, where they both went to study drama. (“We just clicked,” says Mayall of the first time they met.) There they formed Twentieth Century Coyote, a partnership that exists to this day.

It was their university share house in Manchester that spawned the cult hit The Young Ones, the worldwide success that launched their careers, in which Mayall and Edmondson played Rick and Vyvyan respectively.

Asked about their experiences in their true-to-life Manchester bachelor pad, Mayall thoughtfully sips on his tea before responding. “It was four blokes without any money and lots of masturbation,” he says, drawing laughter from Edmondson. “And definitely no birds. Which is exactly the same as how we live now, except we have wives and they have all our cash.

“Ade used to like to drive his motorbike up the staircase. [A scene that was later recreated in The Young Ones.] He’d come home, kick the door in, and drive upstairs. And of course the house was owned by a nice little old lady, so it didn’t really matter.”

Like many classics, it seems The Young Ones was around for longer than it actually was. In fact, only two series — comprising a total of 12 episodes — were made.

So does it bother them that 16 years after it ended, people still constantly refer to their first cult hit, despite the fact that they have been constantly working on other projects since?

Not at all, says Edmondson.

“In fact, it’s rather a refreshing change. Back home we don’t have it referred to much at all. It’s because in Australia I don’t think you got Bottom on the telly, which is what most people know us for in England,” he says.

“It’s like only knowing the Beatles for Twist And Shout— except we’re better than the Beatles,” Mayall boasts, with a broad grin.

“I think Bottom is our White Album,” says Edmondson.

“Which is their best work, in my opinion,” interjects Mayall, continuing the Fab Four analogy. So what’s Guest House Paradiso?

“Abbey Road?” offers Mayall.

“Oh, Abbey Road’s a bit sad though, isn’t it? That was their break-up record, so that can’t be us,” says Edmondson. “We’re not finished yet!”

Just before leaving, I ask them how they have managed to maintain such a successful professional partnership into a third decade, in an industry that generally doesn’t foster bonds of such longevity.

“We are each other’s other half,” says Mayall simply, and quite genuinely. “He’s everything I need, and I’m everything he needs.”

A brief silence hangs in the air, long enough for me to be surprised that an affectionate comment has been made from one of the halves without immediately drawing a quick put-down from the other.

I need not have been too surprised, though.

“I’d never ever have sex with him, of course,” Edmondson adds soon after.

Hard to Keep a Good Comic Down

By Des Partridge for Courier Mail, 27th July 2000

A tidal wave of projectile vomiting provides the climax of former Young Ones comics Rik Mayan and Adrian Edmondson’s new movie, Guest House Paradiso.

“Did you know you can get vomit in seven different flavours and colours?” Rik Mayall asks.

“The special effects people offered us lots of samples to look at before we decided on something in a sickening shade of green. We passed on the one that looked like tandoori chicken,” he laughs.

Obviously, the boys are up to their old tricks.

Yet it hasn’t been laughs all the way. Guest House Paradiso was in the preparatory stages when Mayall, 42, was involved in a near fatal accident, crashing a quad bike on his 4ha property at his home in Devon.

He spent five days unconscious in hospital, and there were fears he might not survive.

Mayall and Edmondson (married to comedienne Jennifer Saunders) have been writing together since they met at university in Manchester more than 20 years ago. They had done a couple of drafts of the screenplay which became Guest House Paradiso before the accident, and it was six months before Mayall was able to resume work.

“I think we probably got a few more ideas for the screenplay because of the delay,” he says. “It was about 3 ½ hours long before, and we managed to trim half that.”

Guest House Paradiso, which also was directed by Edmondson, features the two maniacal comics as the operators of the world’s worst tourist hotel — located on the coast next door to a nuclear plant.

(The guests start their tsunami of projectile vomiting due to radioactive fish sewed at dinner.) “The vomiting was very cleverly filmed as there were little pipes around the place. The stuff that spewed out was like pudding mixture. We laughed for days.”

After shows such as The Young Ones and Bottom, Mayall promises “no vomit jokes” in the team’s next film.