Rik Mayall Interviews and Articles Archive

The Pan Global Phenomenon in all his verbal glory.

Category: 2001

Rik Hits the Punchline

By Steve Clark for The Daily Mirror, 1st September 2001

His latest role gives Rik Mayall the chance to play a thuggish Victorian cop.

Put a straight question to a comedian and you are likely to become the fall guy for his clever answer, and legendary wit Rik Mayall is no exception.

So when he is asked why he decided to take on the role of Lieutenant Daniel Blaney in the new BBC drama series Murder Rooms, he answers, as quick as a flash with a toothy grin, “Money”. But that is only part of the appeal as it offers Rik a welcome chance to immerse himself in the Victorian world of Arthur Conan Doyle – the legendary creator of Sherlock Holmes – as well as play a thuggish policeman with particularly painful punchlines.

“The Victorian era in which Murder Rooms is set was an interesting time for criminal detection,” says Rik. “It was the beginning of the rational age where everything could be judged, measured and put together, and there was a reason for everything.

“And so, of course, there was a division between the new system and the old traditional way where, if you want to find out which person was guilty, you’d put on your knuckledusters and give them a good thrashing. They’d then eventually tell you they were guilty.

“Blaney is much more the latter category of policeman and I’ve always been attracted to playing complete gits – people who don’t fit in, life’s outsiders.”

Murder Rooms features Ian Richardson as pioneering forensic pathologist Dr Joseph Bell, the Edinburgh University expert who taught the young Doctor Arthur Conan Doyle, who is played by Charles Edwards. Inspired by the pair’s real-life friendship, he and Bell crack the most baffling of criminal cases. Rik appears in the fourth story, The White Knight Strategem, and says he leapt at the opportunity to get involved.

“I’d always been a big fan of Ian Richardson plus the part gave me the chance to play a policeman and be a hard man,” he says. “Also, I was so intrigued by the script. I was trying to work out the ending all the way through but I couldn’t, which makes it perfect.”

Rik admits that his knowledge of Arthur Conan Doyle and his detective stories is quite basic, restricted to a distant student memory of playing Sherlock Holmes 20 years ago.

“I was at Manchester University and played Holmes alongside Paul Bradley (best known as Nigel Bates in EastEnders) as Watson,” he recalls. “I don’t remember too much about it as we were drunk most of the time.”

Since those heady student days, Rik has built up quite an acting CV, both serious and comedy, on TV and film. One of his latest projects has been a cameo appearance in the eagerly-awaited film Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone, much to the delight of his three children, Rosie, 14, Sydney, 12, and five-year-old Bonnie.

Rik plays the role of Peeves the Poltergeist. But his ability to reduce people to fits of helpless sniggers means he’s managed to get his face completely removed from his big scene.

“I did my lines as Peeves to Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Harry, plus about 30 others kids and they all started laughing,” Rik explains. “They just wouldn’t stop and in the end I had to stand round the corner and do it. That’s the shot they are going to use, so now the only bit you can see me in is a computer animated scene. Fortunately my kids are still chuffed that I’m in it at all.”

Last time we met, four years ago, Rik was filming an episode of The Bill and he pretended to be a bit miffed that he was soon to turn 40. Now 43, he seems a happy man, which is good news for both his family and fans following his brush with death back in April 1998. While on his farm in Devon, Rik suffered serious head injuries when he was crushed beneath his 600lb quad bike.

“Yes, I’m just happy to be alive,” he says now. Would he say he’s a better person these days? “No,” he laughs, “I was a fantastic person then.”

Following The Bill, Rik also appeared in Jonathan Creek and The Knock so, if he had to choose, which does he prefer – comedy, or the more serious roles?

“Doing comedy stuff is great fun and I do get off on the laughter. A few years ago I came home and my daughter Rosie said, `Have you been at work daddy?’ I said, `Yes, and what do you think I do at work?’. And she replied, `You make people laugh’.

“That sums it up. I like standing in front of people being funny. It’s where I get my kicks.”


The Bottom Line on Comedy’s Wildest Cult Heroes

By Ross Wynne-Jones for The Daily Mirror, 4th October 2001

RIK Mayall pauses to reflect on his 26-year relationship with Adrian Edmondson.

“The main difference between us,” he says, “is that the woman Ade married makes money. The woman I married spends money.”

Mayall and Edmondson are an odd couple. They have been together longer than most marriages. Longer than Adrian’s marriage to comedy genius Jennifer Saunders and Rik’s to Barbara Mayall, a former makeup artist.

Their friendship has matured from Rick and Vivian in BBC’s The Young Ones through Rich and Catflap in Filthy, Rich and Catflap, to Richie and Eddie in Bottom.

Their material, in contrast, remains reassuringly immature.

“At the age of 43, we’ve passed the stage of lighting our farts,” says Rik, seriously. “But this show is still pretty concerned with floaters.”

For all its student humour, Bottom, their newest stage play from the BBC2 series of the same name, is a serious matter.

Three years ago, Rik came off a quad bike on his Devon farm, and nearly died when his brain haemorrhaged in two places. He recovered, but it was possible he would never have the memory to learn another script.

‘That’s just an excuse, of course,” says Adrian, in a stage whisper. “Rik forgets his lines and says it’s because of the accident. In fact, he could never remember any lines and he was always mental.”

Interviewed together they are a comic double-act, bantering as brutally as schoolboys. But separated, Rik softens when he talks privately about his oldest friend. “I’ve never thought about not having met Ade,” says Rik, briefly lost for words. “It’s quite a chilling thought, actually. I’ve never had to do anything on my own.

“I suppose I would have tried to be an actor, but I would have been a failure —I wouldn’t have had anyone to share everything I think and feel.

“Without him I would have been a frustrated sad comedian and drunk myself to death. Or become an accountant.”

Adrian is visibly embarrassed when I tell him this later.

“‘Rik’s become all soppy in his old age,” he says, quickly. “A soppy bimbo. Since the bump on his head, he has got more emotional, which I find difficult. I’m a northern bloke from Bradford!”

WTH a shudder, Adrian says: “A year or two after Rik had bumped his head he actually rang me and said, ‘I thought I’d come round for a hug’. I said, ‘What the f*** are you talking about? You are not!'”

He shrugs his narrow shoulders. “Look, normally we don’t want to say anthing nice about each other, because the other one will use it against you. So, I hate him. Write that down.”

Adrian is not fooling anyone and he scratches his head as he looks across the Birmingham skyline. In an hour he and Rik will be on stage in Wolverhampton.

“When Rik’s wife Barbara rang me after the accident it was very traumatic and emotional because it sounded like he was going to die.”

This is his first wholly serious statement and Adrian studies the glass coffee table for a moment, before recovering his composure.

“Of course, about ten minutes later I rang Harry Enfield up and said, ‘I need a new partner’.” He shrugs. “Then, as bad luck would have it Rik came round. Selfish bastard.”

Adrian says he’s sick of seeing Rik treated with kid gloves. “The thing Rik feels worst about is everyone thinks he’s touched — he’s not. Everyone he meets treats him as if he’s some kind of retard.

“He’s exactly the same as he ever was. There’s only me and Barbara still treat him the same, and it’s not good for him. So I still slap him about a bit.” Last week it was Rik who had Adrian literally in stitches — after whacking him with a frying pan in rehearsal.

“I had to be glued back together,” says Adrian, touching a scar below his eyebrow. “We’ve hit each other before, but it’s the first time I’ve ever needed stitches.”

Rik, however, says he doesn’t know whether he’s changed since the quad bike accident. “I don’t have a good memory of what I was like before,” he says. “The greatest tragedy of my life is that I’ve been to the edge and looked over and I cant remember what I saw.

“In fact I’d advise people to fall off a quad bike because you suddenly discover that very ordinary things are great. Even getting on a bus is great compared to lying in a pit unable to move.”

He grins suddenly. “But I’m not grateful to be alive. I deserve to be alive because I’m great.”

Rik and Ade met in 1976 in the drama department of Manchester University. “The very first time I met Ade, he was sitting with his feet on the desk, very long hair and ripped jeans, smoking a cigarette.

“And there I am thinking, ‘That bloke’s smoking in lessons! He’s going to get into trouble! He’s for it!'”

When the lecturer came in, Rik stood up, hands by his sides, as he had been taught to at The King’s School, Worcester. Adrian sniggered at him.

“That’s the first thing I remember about him,” Rik says. “He was sneering at me for being such a square.”

Adrian laughs. “When we first met I was trying to be cool. He was trying to be cool. We were trying to be the same person really. We’d been to very similar schools, both sets of our parents were teachers. We had the same record collections and we’d been given the same dressing gowns by our mums.

“All the other drama students were very pretentious, doing nude versions of Edward II. That’s where it started — taking the Mickey out of drama students.”

The pair of them are so close that you wonder whether their wives are ever jealous.

“I think that Adrian’s basically attracted to people who are more tal ented than him,” says Rik, earnestly. “Which is why he married Jennifer and why he works with me.”

Adrian admits to having had a “huge crush” on Jennifer for years before they ever got together.

“I met her at the Comic Strip Club when she turned up with Dawn French. I was with someone else, but I had a huge crush on Jennifer. It took a very long time, but I always had a burning desire.” Rik was his best man.

Jennifer understood her husband’s friendship because she had a comic partner in Dawn. Rik, meanwhile, says the key to his happy marriage was marrying a former makeup artist.

“Actors should always marry make up ladies because they love actors which is a very rare thing. Actors are only really interested in themselves.”

He says there is no clash of relationship, but he talks about Adrian in the way a lot of people might talk about the love of their life.

The truth is that Ade does something to me that no one else can,” he says. “He makes me a better performer, he enables me to write, he makes me laugh. Like, I’m one half and he the other half. Stan and Olly, Eric and Ernie. I’m only half a human and he’s only half a human, but together we add up.”

“I know Rik thinks it’s like a marriage,” says Adrian. Keen to set the record straight, Rik says: “But it’s really more like brothers. He doesn’t want anyone to think there’s any funny business.

“We do lads’ things. The way I see it, you should only talk , about feelings when you’re trying to get off with a girl.”

But then he pauses. and almost despite himself, he says the sweetest thing.

“The truth is neither of us is particularly funny without the other. On our own we’re like a pas de deax with only one person.”

Rik bounds into the room like a schoolboy. “What are you saying about me? What are you saying about me?”

Adrian eyes him coolly. “I’m saying what a complete bastard you are,” he says. Rik grins. “Good. That’s what I said about you.

Steer by the Stars

Maxim, November 2001

Talk is cheap

Rik: The secret is that being crap at chatting up women is not only funny, but it works. Women don’t like to be intimidated, so if you’re shit at chatting them up, you’re halfway there.

Ade: Though you need to be fairly good-looking for that to work. When I was crap at chatting up women it never worked. Rik got away with it because he had this strangely angular face that made girls want to shag him. He looked like he was from a boy band. Of course, these days he’s a fat old twat who’s gone a bit titty.

Rik: Interesting and mysterious works, too. Give yourself an air of mystery by carrying a hammer and a pair of handcuffs in your back pocket and telling her you’re a bit kinky. That’s how I got my wife.

Ade: He knows what he’s talking about because he was a big shagger in his youth.

Rik: You weren’t exactly hard up for women. Ade had this rock star look that worked wonders. I remember walking into a lecture hall at college and Ade was wearing ripped jeans with his feet on the desk, casually smoking. I made the mistake of standing up when the lecturer walked into the room and Ade pissed himself laughing. That’s how we first met. The cool bastard.

Pants on Fire

The easiest way to be successful with women is to be good at lying. All Maxim readers have to do is march up to a woman and announce, ‘I’m Rik Mayall. Get them off.’ Seriously, it never fails.

Ade: Or if she’s really ugly, say, ‘You’re Nigel Planer. Get them off.’

Rik: Lying will get you everywhere. The bigger the lie, the better. So if you and your partner are hosting a dinner party, offer to give a lift home to the best looking girl there, then pretend your car’s broken down on the way, phone your girlfriend and tell her you’re going to be late and spend the next two hours knobbing the girl. Then when you get home, tell your girlfriend the bloke who fixed your car need paying and set about emptying her purse. Brilliant!

Get the Hell Out!

Ade: When it comes to ending a relationship, the only acceptable tactic is to run away. Telling them you’re just nipping out for some chips is a winner.

Rik: Or cut your hair, grow a moustache and ask her if she fancies a threesome with a young friend of yours. She’ll get the message.

Ade: Although, if she says yes, you could be in big trouble.

Rik: Back when I used to work in a warehouse, the foreman there gave me the best advice: he said you don’t need a woman, just get a bag of uncooked liver and shag that instead.

Ade: Needless to say, we now won’t play any venue that hasn’t got a decent butcher nearby.

Rik Mayall on Stimulants and Irritants

Arena, December 2001


FELLATING THEATRE CRITICS It always works. Actors should carry mouthwash and antiseptic at all times. RADA should teach fellatio properly — not just in the lavatories.

MOBILE-ENABLED Y-FRONTS You have to be careful to wear them the right way round. Don’t put them on violently back-to-front. What’s great about mobile phones down the Y fronts is that you can dial numbers with your penis. I was once chatting to Kate Moss on a cell phone — I got extremely aroused and inadvertently dialled the Queen.

ANN WIDDECOMBE She is my love muse. I intend to make a full woman of her — although she looks pretty full already. I’ll need climbing gear: a helmet, obviously, some ropes and very long crampons.


THE WALSALL TRAVEL LODGE Or, more specifically, getting caught naked in the lobby at three in the morning trying to seduce the receptionist with my love dance and a cucumber. The magistrate was a schweinhund who couldn’t understand I was doing it for charity.

PENIS SIZE There’s nothing wrong with having two inches. I’ve certainly never had any complaints, or any reaction at all come to that — though I did nearly pop the doll once.

CINEMA A dead art form. ‘Live’ is the art form of the twenty-first century and Bottom Live is its finest example.

Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson interview

By Julie Goodhand for Virgin.net, 9th October 2001

Celebrity couples, don’t you just love them? Posh and Becks, Madonna and Guy and, one of our most long-standing institutions, Rik and Ade.

Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson have been breaking wind and trouncing each other with blunt instruments in the name of comedy for 25 years (yup, a whole quarter century). Since teaming up at Manchester University, the pair went on to give us 20th Century Coyote, The Dangerous Brothers, The Young Ones and Filthy, Rich and Catflap. For their silver wedding anniversary (if you like), the pair are now on the road with a celebratory tour of latest creation Bottom. But how have they stayed so faithful to toilet humour and each other? We found out…

So guys, 25 years! How do you keep the excitement in your relationship?

[Adrian]: “The secret is that we’re out for a good time. On stage, we just want to generate hysteria. We don’t care about looking cool or posing. We don’t have any agenda, apart from ‘Please laugh your bollocks off’. There are no rules — we just go from moment to moment trying to crank up the excitement.”

You’re on the road with Bottom 4; 2001 An Arse Oddity. For anyone who’s been living in a cave, what is Bottom all about?

[Rik]: “Bottom is just a stupid, stupid cartoon full of stupid jokes told with tremendous panache. It’s absolute bollocks told in perfect rhythm. People have trouble with it because comedy’s been intellectualised about an awful lot during the last 15 years, but when you get down to it, all you’re watching is a couple of guys being stupid and hitting each other. The French love us, of course. Its attraction is complete escapism. It’s like ‘forget about the day’s work and just laugh your tits off’.”

You get beaten about the head, the audiences laugh. Seems like a rough deal?

“We adore the slapstick. It’s everything everyone has ever wanted to do to other people. Richie and Eddie are acting out the way we’d all like to behave if only we were allowed to. It offers a fantastic escape from reality.”

[Adrian]: “We all laugh when we witness other people’s pain. It’s called schadenfreude. What we’re doing is wish fulfillment. Twotting someone with a spade without any consequences is something we’d all like to do. How many times have you sat fuming in a car, thinking ‘I wish I had a machine-gun now’?”

I presume there’s still plenty of trademark toilet humour?

[Rik]: “Journalists ask me why we keep telling the same old fart joke — which is utter bollocks because we wrote a new one 15 years ago. Also, critics say we always do fart jokes, but that’s absolute rubbish. There’s a brilliant piss joke in the show.”

[Adrian]: “Some snooty people have a natural antipathy to toilet humour. But for me, it’s always funny. If, for instance, the Queen were to fart during Trooping of the Colour, I’d laugh my head off. I don’t mind not knowing why. I try not to analyse what we do too much. You’re entering dangerous land when you start theorising about comedy.”

Let’s face it, your characters Ritchie and Eddie in Bottom are pretty repulsive guys. Why have they become so popular?

“People like them because they reflect aspects of their own lives. In all our lives, there’s not a lot to do, no one will achieve very much and we end up with someone we just about manage to get on with. No one else would have Richie or Eddie. That’s representative of a lot of people’s existences. Bottom is not as far-fetched as people might think.”

That’s a bit worrying. Let’s move on… Any chance either of you will ‘go solo’?

[Adrian]: “Richie and Eddie couldn’t exist without each other. They’re two halves of the same person. I’m not Eddie and Rik isn’t Richie, but we certainly have those leanings. When we met at University we found that we’d been the same person at different schools: we’d had the same rebellious attitude, done the same plays, cooked a snook at sport in the same way. Our mums had even sent us to university with the same dressing gown, a Marks & Spencer tartan number if I remember rightly.”

[Rik]: “Ade’s my partner. I may go off and have other adventures, but my greatest pleasure, my raison d’etre, has always been my double act with him.”

[Adrian]: “Double acts are just so much more exciting to watch. It may just be me, but I find stand-ups boring after 15 minutes. There’s never any dynamic. But with a double act you always know that there will be something going on. They just spark off each other so brilliantly.”

What about retiring? After all, you are both in you forties now…

[Rik]: “We’ve always been rockers. That’s our generation. And rockers never give up. They just keep rocking and expressing themselves and doing their thing. It’s like that great line from Tom Stoppard — ‘What happens to old actors?’ ‘Nothing, they’re still acting.’ We’ll never stop. We wouldn’t know how to retire!”

[Adrian]: “We’ll carry on doing Richie and Eddie as long as people keep coming to see them. Audiences still seem keen to watch the show. We’re always surprised by how many young people flock to see the show. I suppose the idea is, ‘get em young, brainwash em and then they never leave’!”

Merlin the Return: Rik Mayall’s Wizard Adventure

MyMovies.com, 2001

Rik Mayall, the star of the new family movie “Merlin The Return,” talks to MyMovies about the challenges of his latest role, which sees him bringing a legendary hero bang up to date. The new movie, shot on location near Johannesburg, it brings the wizard from King Arthur’s court into the 21st century in a rattling adventure that sees him battle his ancient enemies once more. For comic actor Mayall, it meant the realisation of three dreams: going to Africa; playing Merlin; and being able to cast spells.

MyMovies: You look like you had a lot of fun making this film so what was the appeal of the role?

Rik Mayall: I’ve never played Merlin and I always wanted to do something from Arthur’s time. It’s one of the things I always really wanted to do but I never thought I was a sort of Merlin scale bloke. Then it gets offered and I thought ‘What! Are you taking the mickey?’ Then I find out they are going to shoot it in South Africa. Merlin was 500 AD and I don’t remember any elephants and giraffes in the story! But for some reason it was shot next to Johannesburg. I loved the script anyway but it was such a surreal thing to go all that way, that I said yes.

MyMovies: Did you shoot on particularly dull days as the sky looks gloomy and right for England?

Rik Mayall:
Yes, it was autumn when we were there so it wasn’t blazing sun but on camera it just looks like England. And you’ve got much more space there as well. If you were galloping around southern or middle England, you are just going to have telegraph poles, aeroplanes going overhead, lorries and all sorts of things It was just a perfect idea to shoot it in South Africa.

MyMovies: How did you feel about Merlin’s look, the robes and hairstyle?

Rik Mayall: I thought I looked incredibly glamorous which is new for me! Merlin is straight, he’s not normal, he’s a little strange. He’s possessor of incredibly strange knowledge and things. He’s a bit of a loner and my parts have always been loners, even in comedy. Merlin was a gift for me, I was very well suited to it. Wearing your own beard is very good as well because wearing a false beard in Africa doesn’t work, it gets a bit sweaty.

MyMovies: Paul Matthews script is hugely imaginative, what makes it such a rattling good yarn?

Rik Mayall:
Well the great hook of the film is the fact that it’s set now. Historians think Arthur lived around 500 AD but here we are now, when Merlin and Arthur wake from their sleep and come back because there is something that needs to be done to protect this land. The main baddie is a 21st century scientist played by the gorgeous Tia Carrere so that is the battle that is done. It’s 21st century abused science versus timeless magic. That is Merlin’s job — to ensure that order is maintained.

MyMovies: What about casting spells?

Rik Mayall: It was fantastic. The special effects were good and we had lots of space. All I had to do was point my finger and something would explode. Sometimes four or five armed soldiers would charge towards me and they would blow up. It’s a job and someone’s got to do and I did it.

MyMovies: What appeal does the film hold for children?

Rik Mayall: The idea that adventure from past times can happen now in the twenty-first century. It’s the Arthurian story and there have been many films about Arthur but none that are set now. It’s goes back in time and forward in time and into other worlds. I suppose it has a Harry Potter feel about it, except that you know the characters in this. I think it’s very rare for a British film to be accepted by all the film people but if you can get past all the critics, it’s one for the kids.

MyMovies: Were you a fan of Arthurian legend when you were a ‘young one’?

Rik Mayall: Oh, yeah. I always wanted to be Lancelot and hang around with Guinevere but I never got the chance, never had the looks, but now I have the equipment!

Holding Out for a Hero

By Steve Clark, Hold The Front Page, 2001

There comes a time in every reporter’s life when they have to interview one of their heroes.

And for Burton Mail trainee Chris Watson, it was a nerve-wracking experience when he spoke to comic actor Rik Mayall, due in the area in his new stage show A Family Affair.

Chris knew him mainly from TV appearances in The Comic Strip, The Young Ones and Bottom.

Given the chance of a 10-minute phone interview with Rik, Chris jumped at the chance to pose the questions.

He explained “Since I began working on the Mail, I hadn’t really been fazed by any interviews I’ve had to do.”

But the Rik Mayall interview was a different story.

He said “It was the first time I’d had to interview someone who I admired. In the back of my mind I kept thinking about what they say about how, when you meet your heroes, it can sometimes be a big disappointment.”

Chris collected his nerves, made sure all his notes were in front of him and dialled the number.

But things didn’t go to plan.

Chris explained “I rang the number right on the dot. It rang for ages and ages but nobody answered. I was a little bit disappointed because I’d been excited about talking to him but I was also a bit relieved because I hadn’t had to go through with it.”

He waited a few minutes before trying the number again.

Once again, it rang and rang but this time, somebody answered.

It was Rik!

“As soon as he answered, I could tell it was him because he’s got such a distinctive voice. He asked me if I could ring back in 90 seconds. I think he had to move from a rehearsal to his car or something.

“I just sat there, watching my second hand go round for 90 seconds and then I rang him again.”

This time, Rik was ready to talk and it wasn’t long before his trademark shock humour came to the fore.

Chris said “I said to him ‘Was that long enough’ and he replied ‘Just ask my knob!’.

After such a crude start, it was clear that this wasn’t going to be a run-of-the-mill interview and Chris found it easy to chat to Rik in such an informal manner.

He said “We just chatted like a couple of mates down the pub. I think sometimes people forget that famous celebrities are still normal people.”

For much of the interview, Chris wasn’t sure if he was talking to Rik the actor or Rik the comedy character.

“I got the feeling that for some of the interview, he was making a real effort to be this larger-than-life wacky character. Maybe he thought it was what people expected of him.”

Chris also had the problem of trying to get usable quotes out of the comedian.

He said “So much of what he said was just really dirty. I started wondering if I was going to have anything I could put in the paper.”

And Chris seemed to touch Rik when he brought up the subject of the quad bike accident that nearly killed him three years ago.

“I asked him if the accident had changed the way he looked at life and he went all quiet on me.

“My first thought was, ‘oh no, I’ve said the wrong thing’ but then he spoke up. He sounded really moved and he told me that normally reporters tended to skirt around the accident.

“He said that it had made him more determined to do what he wanted in life and to live it to the full.”

The pair clearly struck up some sort of rapport.

Chris explained “We just chatted to each other. In the end, what was supposed to be a 10-minute slot ran well over and ended up lasting nearly half an hour.”

Now that he has been through such a pressurised situation and handled it well, he feels more confident about being asked to take on a similar job in the future.

He said “I think in future, it’ll be easier for me just to relax and enjoy the conversation. I’m sure Rik has forgotten all about me, but I like to think we got on pretty well.”

You Ask the Questions: Rik Mayall

The Independant, 5th December 2001

(Such as: so, Rik Mayall, who’s funnier, you or Ade Edmondson? And why have you been peddling the same joke for 25 years?)

Rik Mayallwas born in Essex in 1958. He studied drama at Manchester University, where he met Adrian Edmondson, with whom he was to form an enduring comedy partnership.

After graduating Mayall co-wrote and starred in A Kick Up The Eighties, but it was his role as Rick in the Eighties cult comedy The Young Ones, which he co-wrote with Ben Elton, that made him a household name. Since then he has appeared in many of Britain’s best-loved TV-comedy programmes, including The New Statesman, The Comic Strip Presents, Blackadder and Bottom. His film credits include Drop Dead Fred and Carry On Columbus. In April 1998, Mayall suffered severe brain hoemorrhaging and a fractured skull when he fell from his quad-bike on his Devon farm. He has since made a full recovery.

Mayall is married with three children and divides his time between Homes in Notting Hill, London and Devon.

What would you describe as your greatest comedy success and disaster? Nicholas E Gough, Swindon

a) My oeuvre. b) I don’t have them.

What are your memories of that horrific quad bike accident? Stella Cordon, by e-mail

Mainly hordes of fabulous young nurses at the Derriford Hospital in Plymouth (highly Recommended).

In the Thatcher Eighties you had a success with Alan B’stard. If you were playing a similar part now what would you call him/her? Duncan Graham, by e-mail

He is called Adonis Cnut and I’m writing the show with the same writers behind Alan B’stard at the moment. It’s called Believe Nothing and it’s going to be fantastic.

What’s your response to critics who say that you’ve spent the past 25 years peddling one joke? Carla Mills, London


Did your involvement with Cliff Richard (‘Living Doll’, 1986) influence your views on the ageing process? Nicholas E Gough, Swindon

He is my hero. Don’t be snide.

I am reading the second Harry Potter book and I keep seeing you as Gilderoy Lockhart. I just found out that Ken Branagh will be playing the part. Ugh! How could they? I like your brand of ham much better than his. Was the part ever in the offing for you to do it? Davanna Kilgore, Ozona, Florida

Here’s a good question. Everyone I know keeps saying that I should play Gilderoy and yeah, I’d eat that with both pants. Even the wife says I am him. I was in the first one for about a month, but ended up on the cutting room floor. So maybe my relationship with the producers is a bit too much on the wobbly side.

You have worked with Ade Edmondson for nearly a quarter of a century. What is it that makes this relationship so successful and, who’s funnier? S Forsyth, Cardiff

No, no… It’s exactly 26 years and three months this Christmas (PS Me).

You make me laugh. Who makes you laugh? Simon Montague, by e-mail

Spike, obviously. Stan & Ollie. The Great Tommy Cooper, Viv Stanshall. But no one as much as Ade.

What was the inspiration for Richie and Eddie in Bottom? Simone Lloyd, by e-mail

The rent.

Calmer Chameleon

What’s On TV, 26th September 2001

Rik Mayall continues to surprise us with his unexpected career moves.

For someone who made his name in such anarchic shows as the Young Ones and The Comic Strip Presents back in the Eighties, Rik Mayall has turned into a surprisingly conventional actor.

Recently, he’s done more straight acting than comedy on tv — appearing in such mainstream shows such as The Bill and Jonathan Creek. And its a trend he continues this week with a role in Murder Rooms.

“I like that feeling of wrong-footing the audience slightly,”Rik admits. “Rather than play someone they know, or they’ve seen before, its good to be able to surprise them.”

In this, the final episode of Murder Rooms, Rik plays Lieutenant Daniel Blaney, who is thrown together with his old adversary, forensic surgeon Joseph Bell, to solve the murder of a prominent business man.

“The first attraction was the script, I was grabbed,” says Rik, 43. “I was trying to work out the ending all the way through. I couldn’t , which makes it perfect. There was also the attraction of filming in Scotland, where my wife Barbara is from.”

Barbara — his wife of 15 years — and their children Rosie,15, Sidney,13, and Bonnie, 5, are the most important part of Riks life.

They were devastated when 3 years ago he suffered serious head injuries after falling off his quad bike at the family’s Devon farmhouse. For a while it was touch and go whether he’d survive.

Not surprisingly, Rik has been changed by his accident. He’s much calmer and more appreciative these days.

“It’s made me realise how lucky I am to be alive and not to worry about little things any more like getting old or finding grey hairs.”

Not that he’s slowed down much. Apart from the two- month break he takes in the summer, his work schedule is packed. In October,he starts a nationwide tour of the hit show Bottom with his best pal and business partner Adrian Edmondson.

He could also be making a new series of The New Statesman. It’s been 10 years since he played the unscrupulous tory MP Alan B’stard, and Rik thinks it’s high time he returned.

“I’s very important that he does because he needs to bring down new Labour a peg or two,” he laughs. “His public need him.”

Bottom’s Up

Ny Shoba Vazirani for OK!, 28th September 2001

From The New Statesman via Bottom to The Knock, Mayall has always loved surprising people. As a brutish policeman in Murder Rooms, he’s sure to…

Think of the name Rik Mayall and you can’t help but smile. The zany actor is synonymous with comedy performances, and with a career spanning two decades, there have been plenty of them. After shooting to fame at the tender age of 24 as Rick in The Young Ones, there has been one series after another, including Filthy, Rich and Catflap, Bottom and The New Statesman, specialising in repulsive and slimy characters.

As a natural show-off, making people laugh is definitely what Rik, 43, does best, but he does have his serious side. He has already proved to be pretty convincing in such dramas as The Knock and Jonathan Creek and now he’s back as a guest star in crime thriller Murder Rooms.

He was particularly pleased to clinch the role of a Victorian police officer and enjoyed working with one of his long-time heroes, Ian Richardson, who stars as forensic genius Dr Joseph Bell, Arthur Conan Doyle’s inspiration for Sherlock Holmes.

Rik, who lives in London and Devon with wife Barbara and their three children, says he loves keeping audiences guessing and he hopes this role will show yet another side to his talents. Freetime caught up with the madcap star on the set of the BBC drama and tried to get some serious answers!

Rik, tell us about your character

His name’s Daniel Blaney and he’s a police lieutenant. In Victorian times where this is set, there was a resistance from traditional policing for the newfangled methods of policing. It was much simpler to beat the confession out of the suspect. Blaney’s like that: he doesn’t see the point of finger-printing and methodically searching far clues; he reckons he can sense whether someone’s guilty or not.

As a comedy star, what made you take on such a serious role?

I like to show a different side to myself now and again! I took the job because I just adore Ian and I wanted to play his screen enemy. There’s been a murder and we’re trying to find out who did it but of course we’re on opposing sides, which is brilliant. I love making Bell hate Blaney! Also the costumes are great and I get to ponce around looking handsome.

Which do you prefer, comedy or straight?

I inhabit this world in the middle realty, which is nice because no one knows what I’m doing. I’ll be Ritchie from Bottom, Alan B’Stard or whatever and then it’s: ‘Oh, he’s doing that funny person!’ I’m also doing something at the National. I like that feeling of wrong-footing the audience slightly. Rather than coming to see something they know and they’ve seen before, a surprise is good.

You seem to work constantly…

My work is my greatest love, apart from my family. That’s what I do. It’s all I ever wanted to do ever since I was little.

So what we can expect next?

Ade (Edmondson) and I are going on the road with Bottom 2001, which is a joke in itself because there have been so many episodes of Bottom, this probably really is the 2001st! It’s actually called Bottom 2001; An Arse Oddity. We’ve decided to do it because we haven’t done a live show in a while. We tend to do a big operation every two years, which this is. The tickets are on sale now…

Do you get much family time?

I’ve always — and this is true for once — tended not to speak about my family because I don’t think it’s fair to them. But I will tell you that they’re fine and happy. I always take the summer off to spend with the kids, who are brilliant.

Has your 1998 quad bike accident, where you incurred severe head injuries, changed you?

I don’t know, is the honest answer, because I can’t remember what I was like before. I was always happy before and I’m happy now. I like working more than ever. Maybe when something like that happens to you, you don’t have to worry about being perfect any more, so I don’t worry about getting old, having grey hairs and all that. Yeah, maybe it’s made me less worried about getting old because I’d rather get old than not.

How do you feel about fame and stardom?

I’ve always found it embarrassing and uncool to be famous. I come from a generation who thought being starry was stupid. It’s a slightly socialist tradition of the 70s, so we’ve never really been fame hungry. I like what it does for you in as much as it gives you the opportunity to work, which I love.