Rik Mayall Interviews and Articles Archive

The Pan Global Phenomenon in all his verbal glory.

Category: 2006

The Old B’Stard’s Back

What’s On, 3rd-16th June 2006

The What’s On Interview: Alan B’Stard

Despite being a major figure in Margaret Thatcher’s conservative government, Alan B’Stard has found himself back in office as part of Tony Blair’s caring New Labour government. With a reputation for speaking his mind, as his political party faces a testing period, the some would say arrogant B’Stard heads out on a nationwide tour. What’s On spoke to him about his allegiances and political beliefs as he prepared to visit Birmingham.

What led to your decision to leave the Conservative Party in the ’90s and sign up for New Labour?

Your question betrays the superficial grasp of modern politics one has sadly come to expect from a provincial magazine. I’ll try to keep this simple: I left the Conservative Party in 1992 after it had been rendered unelectable through the financial debacle known as Black Wednesday, when the Treasury lost billions trying to support the pound against shadowy currency speculators, who made billions for themselves on that day. Personally, I refer to it as Golden Wednesday, as my already healthy bank balance coincidentally went through the roof. In the knowledge that Labour were bound to win the subsequent election, I decided that if we had to have a Labour government I would work to make sure it was a Labour government I could live with. Obviously, the choice of leader was vital. I looked around and discovered a personable failed pop singer called Tony Blair. Once I’d explained to him what I modestly call my “New Labour Scam”, he enthusiastically embraced a radical political programme, which involved going through the Tory manifesto, crossing out the word “Conservative” and inserting the words “New Labour”.

Your daughter’s name is Margaret Hilda – named in honour of your former leader, Mrs Thatcher. Were you tempted to change her name when you jumped ship to Labour?

How naive of you to assume I really do have a daughter just because I said so in my Who’s Who entry. Margaret Hilda B’Stard does not exist, she was a politically useful fiction. As for any other paternity claims against me, I refer you to my solicitors, Bludgeon, Stiletto and Alibi.

Serving under both Thatcher and Blair, how do their leadership styles differ?

Margaret Thatcher was a strong, radical, hard-drinking broad, determined to crush the organised working class and turn Britain into a can-do, enterprise culture where foreign millionaires can live, shop and fornicate, and repatriate their profits tax free. Whereas Tony believes in an enterprise culture where foreign millionaires can live, shop and fornicate, and repatriate their profits tax free, as long as he gets to stay in said millionaires’ yacht/island. Margaret made sure her Cabinet ministers all agreed with her vision, whereas Tony hasn’t met most of his Cabinet. Margaret took us to war against Argentina because they had invaded British sovereign territory. Tony took us to war against Iraq because George W. Bush told him to.

Any aspirations to be Party Leader or PM yourself?

You should have deduced by now that I am de facto Prime Minister. But I have no desire to be party leader and have to mingle with the spineless hordes who were so desperate to get out of opposition that they were prepared to let Tony and I jettison every socialist principle the party had.

Do you socialise with Tony and Cherie?

Are you kidding?!

As a (former?) member of the Keep Britain Nuclear campaign, what are your views on the current energy crisis?

I still believe in nuclear energy and I’m ready to do my bit by releasing the hundreds of tons of enriched uranium by-products that are currently secreted inside the Millennium Dome. However, nuclear power now is inadequate to solve the energy crisis alone. What is needed is a revolutionary rethink of a range of policies. One example; if petrol cost £50 a gallon but was 100 per cent tax deductible, the Ordinaries would be priced off the roads, whilst the rich could drive at speed, in comfort on empty motorways. This would slash carbon emissions and save billions in road building costs.

ASBOs – any comments?

ASBOs are purely a temporary policy to try to suppress the underclass until after the 2012 Olympics, when the Olympic Village, in the Chav heartland of Stratford, East London, will be turned into a high-security prison city, modelled on one of my favourite films, John Carpenter’s Escape From New York, in which all criminals were dumped on a Manhattan empty of law abiding citizens, and allowed to get on with their disgusting, depraved, ugly violent lives, without bothering the rest of us.

What are the issues you believe the next general election will be fought on?

The next general election will be fought on the same single issue as the last three elections – the personality of the party leaders. Obviously this causes us some problems. Unlike Major, Hague, and Howard, David Cameron is, superficially at least, a recognisable human being. New Labour therefore must choose its candidate with care. Assuming Tony gets the job he’s really after, and that’s really down to Alan Sugar, who can New Labour look to? Gordon Brown v David Cameron reminds me of Richard Nixon against John F. Kennedy (since this is being read in the Midlands, let me point out that Nixon lost). But if not Brown, who? John Reid is too bald and Scottish, Alastair Darling looks like something out of Thunderbirds, Patricia Hewitt is too smug, Peter Hain is too smarmy, and Ruth Kelly looks like she’s pregnant again. Maybe Opus Dei made her have sex with John Prescott as a form of penance. At the moment I’m trying to persuade New Labour’s remaining attractive cabinet member to throw her hat in the ring, but Carol Caplan says she’s too busy.

If someone was considering donating a sum to the Labour Party… what incentives could you offer?

Unfortunately, I’m fresh out of peerages. The Duchess of Cornwall had the last one. However, the job of England football manager seems to be open to people with almost no discernible skill. Perhaps that might attract a high roller. It’s also possible these days to have a number one hit record in exchange for a modest financial incentive to the right people. That would encourage the younger millionaires to support us. Failing that, I usually threaten to introduce people to John Prescott unless they donate.

 

You’ve had a lot of experience of dealing with scandal – especially with regard to your personal life – did you have any tips for John Prescott after tabloid revelations over his extra-marital behaviour?

My most important tip to Prescott would be to be slim, well-spoken, charming and reasonably endowed. So that’s none out of four. It’s also important to be rich so that if your lovers threaten to sell their stories you can afford either to buy them off or bump them off. It’s not a bad idea to buy Max Clifford a nice present every Christmas either. You never know when you’ll need to get a story suppressed.

Your wife, Sarah, has remained at your side throughout your career. What’s the secret of a successful marraige?

Speaking personally, the success of my marriage is based on almost never seeing my wife, taking no interest in what she does, or with whom, telling her nothing, and making sure she has enough money not to care what I’m up to. Then once or twice a year we appear together at a high profile event and everyone remarks what a wonderful couple we make. She can also be a very dirty girl, if you know what I mean.

You’ve been a Conservative MP, a Euro MP and now a Labour MP. How do you take accusations that you are simply an opportunist?

Opportunist is a much maligned word. All life is about grabbing opportunity. If you were given the opportunity of writing for a decent magazine I’m sure you’d grab at that. But of course with your minuscule talent, that opportunity is never likely to transpire.

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The 5-Minute Interview: Rik Mayall, Comedian ‘I play baddies but I’d be a Good Jesus’

By Sara Newman for The Independant, 12th December 2006

Rik Mayall, 48, stars in Alan B’stard’s Extremely Secret Weapon at Trafalgar Studio in Whitehall from 13 December until 27 January.

The tour so far has been…

Great. I was on tour this summer and the Manchester Evening News gave me the best comedy performance award of 2006.

My characters tend to be…

The baddy. But I think I’d do a good Jesus.

A phrase I use far too often…

“Where’s my Viagra?”

The most surprising thing that happened to me was…

Waking up alive on Bank Holiday Monday 1998. I fell off a quad bike and my skull filled with loose blood, mashing my brain. I was dead for five days.

I am not a politician but…

If I was, I would bring down Western civilisation in all its entirety, apart from licensing hours.

I’m good at…

Being an astonishingly well-hung, pan-global, light entertainer phenomenon.

The ideal night out is…

I’m not allowed out.

In moments of weakness, I…

I don’t have moments of weakness. I’m Rik Mayall.

You know me as a comedian but in truer life I’d have been a…

Breast enthusiast. I failed all my A levels so I might have been a hangman but the bastards took away capital punishment.

In a nutshell, my philosophy is this:

Never ever ever ever ever bloody anything ever. Me and Ade [Edmondson] wrote that when we were tiny.

Rik’s New Labour of Love

Evening Times Times Out, 22nd June 2006

New Statesman Swaps Parties for More Laughs

Four series of ITV’s The New Statesman starring Rik Mayall did more to harm the Conservative Party than the Labour opposition.

Alan B’Stard MP was the most depraved, amoral character TV had ever seen, a creature that many political commentators noted was worryingly close to reality.

Twelve years on, writers Lawrence Marks and Maurice Gran have revived their monstrous hero in this stage show, and B’Stard has crossed the floor to join the Labour Party.

And we learn it was he who engineered the demise of Clause 4 and he who attempted to plant WMD in Iraq to pave the way for invasion.

In fact, he was the man behind the entire New Labour concept.

“After Margaret Thatcher was pushed out of office, I realised the Tories were no longer the right-Wing, hanging and flogging party that I was so drawn to in my student days”, says B’Stard.

The New Statesman came about after Rik Mayall invited Marks and Gran to concoct a vehicle for him.

Mayall knew exactly what he wanted.

“I think selfish, vain people are very, very funny,” he said. “I wanted to play someone grown up, powerful and a complete and utter b*****d.”

Essex-born Mayall has an instinct for cruel comedy.

After studying drama at Manchester University he touched the hem of fame in 1980 after appearing at the infamous Comedy Store in London.

Mayall broke into TV with the character Kevin Turvey on the 1981 BBC Scotland series A Kick Up the Eighties thanks to Comedy Unit boss Colin Gilbert.

His role as sociology student and Cliff Richard devotee in The Young Ones in 1982, a series written by Mayall with long-standing friend Ben Elton and then girlfriend Lise Mayer, ensured him wide public acclaim.

Mayall went on to star in a number of the Comic Strip films and on Saturday Live with Adrian Edmondson as The Dangerous Brothers, a pair of naive but anarchic daredevils who would set fire to each other.

Now, Mayall is relishing his return to the B’Stard role. And he says he likes the fact this unwholesome character is laughed at and not laughed with.

B’Stard’s wife, played by Marsha Fitzalan, also features in the play.

And we can be thankful for that. Sarah was as money-motivated as her husband and, despite having lesbian tendencies (she had an affair with B’Stard’s female political agent) would sleep with anyone (even Bstard) for her own ends.

B’Stard married her, of course, purely for her respectability and money and committed adultery at every turn, charming women with talk of his ‘enormous majority’.

The MP has lost his usual ally in upper-class twit Piers, the Bladrick to his Blackadder, who stuck with the Tories, but has a new sidekick called Frank, a left-wing former coal miner.

But is Alan B’Stard still a man for our times?

It’s argued that his 80s excess was attractive almost in the same way that Harry Enfield’s Loadsamoney was.

And in a Who’s Who entry B’Stard described his recreational activities as ‘Making money, drinking, driving, dining out on other people’s expenses, boogying, bonking, droit du seigneur, grinding the faces of the poor’.

Can he manage to enjoy all this fun quite as easily while still being part fo the New Labour machine?

Explaining the defection to Labour, Mayall said of the party: “They are young, they are sexy – and they are much more right-wing than the Conservatives.”

Writer Maurice Gran, who is also a disillusioned Labour Party member said: “We never thought they would be quite so ghastly quite so quickly and that they would give us so much ammunition.”

Rik Mayall: Return of a Political Animal

The Independant, 26th March 2006

The unspeakable Tory MP Alan B’Stard has crossed the floor of the House and joined New Labour. As Rik Mayall prepares to take his (and Marks and Gran’s) creation on a four-month national theatre tour, Julian Hall meets the comedian who hopes to assist in the removal of Tony Blair from 10 Downing Street

Seven years ago I stood in the same small function room at The Dorchester Hotel as Margaret and Dennis Thatcher, Cecil Parkinson, Norman Tebbit and what seemed like most of the Government of my youth. Today I’m in a slightly smaller room above the Duke of York’s Theatre with Rik Mayall, an icon of my youth who mercilessly and grotesquely parodied that very same government. As on the first occasion, I am suitably amused.

“Alan B’Stard is a national treasure because he always comes to the nation’s health when the nation needs cleansing. Alan B’Stard got rid of Margaret Thatcher and will get rid of Tony Blair,” Mayall announces grandly, trumpeting his imminent stage portrayal of the character he played nearly 20 years ago on television.

The lascivious, scheming, immoral Tory MP created by Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran in the ITV sitcom The New Statesman is clearly dear to the heart of the 48-year-old Essex-born, Worcester-bred comedian. When he speaks he switches between his own persona and that of Alan B’Stard’s almost without you noticing. We are also occasionally visited by The Young Ones’Rik, but all this occurs without Mayall appearing as erratic as he has in other interviews – particularly ones published within a few years of his near-fatal accident in 1998.

“Alan loves Tony, of course, he loves everything he does,” Mayall continues. “Was it yesterday, yes it was, when Tony arranged it that nice middle-class children didn’t have to go to school with the working-class children any more so they won’t get rickets? That’s what Tony wants, thank God.”

B’Stard hit our screens when Margaret Thatcher was beginning to look ever more like her Spitting Image puppet. Now, B’Stard’s opportunistic re-invention in The New Statesman – Episode 2006: The Blair B’Stard Project, inevitably as a New Labour MP, comes during the current prime minister’s twilight years, wounded by loss of public trust over Iraq, pursuing ever more right-wing policies and, a bit like Mayall, looking greyer than he once was.

“Alan has always known the correct way that society should be,” Mayall continues. “I won’t go as far as to say the master race, but I think you know what I am talking about – it’s what Margaret always knew, it’s what Tony has known… I’ve gone off on one there but this is why it’s so fantastic…”

One of the reasons that Mayall so relishes re-inventing the role is that The New Statesman generated rich material that directly made fun of ministers then in power. This contrasts with what he believes is the current climate of fear: “There’s very little opposition to Tony [Blair] on telly now, there’s so much censorship. Everyone’s very scared, it’s very litigious these days – people are told not to say things. I had a slightly rough time with Laurence [Marks] and Maurice [Gran] when we were doing Believe Nothing[their ITV sitcom of 2002] – they kept cutting lines.” I ask Mayall why he thinks such a cautious climate prevails: “I ought to be groovy and be able to say the enemy is this and the enemy is that… but I’ve never been very good at … I don’t want to have to answer questions I don’t know the answer to properly. I have an opinion.”

He is nevertheless undeterred by this inexplicably censorious climate, and has enjoyed the shocked reaction of actors auditioning for parts in the play to lines that he presumably thinks might not have been permitted on television. (The stage version, The New Statesman – Episode 2006, is also scripted by Marks and Gran.) Though perhaps reticent on the current political climate, he is not shy about admonishing the state of television, which he describes as “dull”, “restrictive”, awash with “the ordinaries” (by which he means reality-TV shows). Television is, he believes, ultimately a “20th-century art form”, with theatre stepping into the breach for the 21st century. However, with a trademark Terry Thomas twinkle, he adds that he is currently available for TV work, eager to add to a canon that has included superb cameos in Blackadder and his own Rik Mayall Presents…series, which saw stellar casts including Helena Bonham Carter and Saffron Burrows.

The experience of theatre holds great allure for Mayall who has never lost touch with his live roots since coming onto the alternative comedy scene in the late Seventies. This four-month tour will feel more akin to Mayall’s West End forays (a poster for one of them, Common Pursuitby Simon Gray at the Phoenix Theatre in 1988, adorns the wall behind him) than his rock-venue outings with Ben Elton in the Eighties or with long-term double-act partner Ade Edmondson. “With 1,000-seater venues, rather than 5,000-seaters, there are richer opportunities for sucking the audience in.” That said Mayall can’t resist some nostalgia for the rock ‘n’ roll years; “Many people know what it is like to get 5,000 people laughing – it’s better than sex, a deeply sensual experience when you are intellectually and emotionally that open, having intercourse with the audience, moving with them in a kind of dance.”

Mayall’s working partner for the best part of 30 years has been Ade Edmondson. Inevitably, after Edmondson suddenly announced that tours of Bottom, the live spin-off of their knockabout BBC2 sitcom, would cease in 2004, people have asked whether and when they will collaborate again. It’s only a matter of time: “Yes, me and Ade love each other; yes, we’re going to work together. We match each other, I still maintain it is like a marriage – I’m one half and he’s the other, I’m the feed line and he’s the punchline, a rhythm that works beautifully together.”

Throughout their careers, the duo have been locked into what seems like an eternal run of Waiting for Godot(indeed, they attempted Beckett’s most famous play on the West End in 1991), and their signature act of vaudevillian violence has pleased crowds at the same time as drawing criticism of puerility. However, according to an apocryphal quote attributed to Edmondson, the characters they both play are always the same, it’s just the setting that changes. When I mention the quote to Mayall and ask him if he feels it is representative, he’s keen to shrug it off: “It’s very difficult… How do I have a debate about something so artistically important in public rather than in a sealed room with Adrian? It’s like if you’ve got Picasso slagging off Chagall because he always uses the same colour. Would Stan say that about Ollie?”

Mayall, enthusiastic and expansive throughout the interview, expresses caution on occasion. Each one of these moments is about how his spoken word will look on the page. He is careful in his answer to my question about how he felt that his life changed after his quad-bike accident in 1998. “It’s difficult for me, to look into eyes of a journalist and trust him to present it as you say. Words on the page don’t have the same impact as somebody saying the words to you.”

This is interesting because it echoes my thoughts about his recent autobiography, which comes out in paperback next month. Though it is by and large entertaining, I’m with those who believe that Mayall’s stylised story, the deliberately immodest Bigger than Hitler, Better than Christ, is a good example of how words on a page and spoken words are different beasts; the book is something you would want to hear rather than read.

When Mayall does summon the words to encapsulate the new lease of life he felt after surviving a brain haemorrhage and five days in a coma he elaborates: “I’m wary of looking pretentious and arty and soft and gentle and stuff like that, but I was a very happy man before that happened and I’m a happier man now. All I’ve got to complain about is that I can’t drink [he is on anti-epilepsy medication], but if you look at it the correct way, I haven’t had a hangover now for about eight years.”

Now in the flow, Mayall becomes quite effusive and almost falls into the trap that he was hoping to avoid: “Because I’m loved more by the Almighty God than anyone else on this planet, bless him, for various reasons I don’t know… I couldn’t claim to be a vain person, but is one of the reasons the Lord put me back on Earth the fact that the first night of the tour is exactly eight years to the day that I came back? Is this the reason God put me back, and what is the significance of the number eight that’s what I’d really like to know!”

At the end of his musing about the number eight, I think I can hear the sound of his tongue coming out of his cheek. But when I remind him of John Lennon’s obsession with the number nine we both, for a moment, ponder the plausibility of fate by numbers.

After the initial caution, this recollection of difficult times prompts Mayall to dig a little deeper: “I loved what The Young Ones did, Kevin Turvey… The Comic Striphadn’t quite kicked off. It was somewhere around ’84, before Barbara and I met and got married, there was a period then when I was thinking, ‘Is that it then? Have I had my fun? Have I had my fame, glamour and all that, have I had it?'”

It was The Young Onesproducer and alternative comedy’s representative at the BBC, Paul Jackson (now director of entertainment and comedy at the BBC) who inadvertently came to the jaded comic’s rescue by taking him to a TV festival where he met Marks and Gran. There they bonded over political persuasion and the desire to write and perform a show about someone who was, well, a complete B’Stard.

It wasn’t the only wobble. Later in the Eighties, after poor reviews for the sitcom Filthy, Rich and Catflap, in which he performed and Ben Elton wrote, he contemplated leaving showbusiness behind him and becoming a teacher, following in his parents’ footsteps. Luckily, The New Statesmanstarted later in the same year, 1987, and spawned a monster. Alan B’Stard’s oily charm proved to be enduring, providing Mayall with what he calls a new “canvas” to paint upon.

The painting analogies have punctuated the interview at regular intervals and Mayall decides to bring proceedings to a close with a final brush stroke, hinting at his future intentions and covering over past problems: “I’m not the sort of man who is going to retire, this is my art form. I’ll keep on going till the day I die; like a painter, as long as I can hold a paint brush, I can’t see any other way of being.”

No matter how many colours he uses there’s no reason to doubt him.

Return of B’Stard, the Dishonourable Member

The Yorkshire Post, 16th May 2006

Rik Mayall is bringing his iconic creation Alan B’Stard back ­ this time to the stage. He spoke to Arts reporter Nick Ahad

One thing you could never accuse Rik Mayall of is modesty.

“This is the greatest play, written by the greatest writers and starring, obviously, the greatest actor there has ever been,” says the former Young One, who is out on the road, touring the country with a new incarnation of what he no doubt thinks is one of his greatest-ever characters, Alan B’Stard.

First aired back in 1987, The New Statesman, by legendary television writers Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, was enormously popular and provided Mayall with a perfect platform to do what he does best ­ playing the fool and a wholly unlikable fool at that.

Alan Beresford B’Stard, Conservative MP for the North Yorkshire constituency of Haltemprice, lived up to his moniker. Outrageous, nasty, Machiavellian, the portrayal of an MP so devoid of morals was seen as hilarious by viewers and appalling by many MPs, among them Teddy Taylor, Conservative member for Southend, who said rather uncharitably that: “It was so immature and childish it reminded me of a Neil Kinnock speech.”

While politicians had been the butt of the joke before, from Mike Yarwood’s impressions to the bumbling incompetence captured in Yes, Minister, the New Statesmanwas not only laugh-out-loud funny, it was also cruel and unforgiving.

Coming just before the endless revelations of sleaze which dogged the Conservative Government, it was also incredibly timely.

Unsurprisingly, Mayall has his own view on the effect of the programme, claiming credit for “bringing down the Thatcher Government.”

While one suspects his tongue is permanently in his cheek, since those early days of The Comic Strip and the Young Ones, British society and politics have changed and the stage version of The New Statesmanfocuses its bile on New Labour and on the spin doctors who many think are responsible for turning the wheels of Government.

“If you want a world exclusive, I can give you one,” teases Mayall, displaying the sort of media manipulation skills of which any New Labour spin doctor would be proud.

“I have it on pretty good authority that Tony himself will be coming to see the show at York.”

Mayall is so good that, just for a split second he has me, and shows the anarchic spirit that made him ­ and still makes him ­ the perfect choice to play the amoral MP.

From the minute he begins the interview, it is clear that Mayall has been so infused once again with the strange surreal world in which B’Stard lives, that he himself is going to behave in a slightly strange way.

Immediately after declaring the greatness of everything and everyone involved in the play, he tells me he has always wanted to speak to me.

“I have pictures of you on my wall, it is such an honour, I’m so nervous and excited, what a great moment,” says Mayall. delivering his speech with all the charm and saccharine sweetness demanded by Blair’s media-savvy Government. In an attempt to get Mayall to speak seriously for just a moment, I ask about the character.

“This time around he is an absolute powerhouse of evil, he controls the whole Government,” says Mayall.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun playing a character.”

Why, though, go back? Is the urge to make a political statement in the present climate a factor?

“I was with Ben (Elton) in the Groucho Club and we saw Little Richard and his advice was stop at the top. That’s why we ended the show. But I’m nearly 50 years old now and I wanted to do something. I didn’t want to go back on telly, that has become so restrictive and so anal that I didn’t want to do it. Doing a live gig is the best thing, that’s where it really is at now.”

Approaching his half-century, can Mayall maintain the energy needed to be a convincing Alan B’Stard night after night?

“I love it, it’s brilliant.

“The writers are on the road, so we can keep it very up to date and changing all the time ­ we had a few jokes about Prescott a couple of weeks ago written in,” says Mayall, before catching himself being serious and putting on his “sleazy” voice.

“There’s something so sensual about being on stage and making a whole auditorium laugh and have them there in the palm of your hand being able to manipulate them and use them.”

If Mayall carries on this irreverent approach ­ and he says he does ­ on the stage, who knows what will happen when the show plays to audiences this week?

Red Devil

By Debbie Waite for This Is Oxfordshire, 5th May 2006

Rik Mayall comes on the phone. He’s backstage at the Bristol Hippodrome.

“Debbie right?” he asks, in that unmistakable clipped tone. “From Oxford?

“Right. That’s where we’re coming next – and we want to sell loads of tickets.”

And then he’s off, talking 10 to the dozen – about the show – The New Statesman: Episode 2006: The Blair B’Stard Projectthe writers Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, and the return of the notorious Alan B’Stard, now Tony Blair’s right hand man in the Labour cabinet.

My carefully crafted list of questions is soon in a scrunched-up ball on the floor.

As I scrabble to write down his erratic quotes and juicy soundbites – it’s a bit like talking to a real politician, on acid.

“When they came to me and said they were bringing back Alan, I said $%&*off, that was 15 years ago!” he shrieks.

“But it’s absolutely fantastic and the audiences are loving it.”

In the play, B’Stard has switched from the Conservatives to New Labour. Explaining the defection, Mayall says: “They (Labour) are much more right-wing than the Conservative Party.

“Alan’s now Tony’s (Blair’s) leading adviser. He’s made a load of money out of the war and the sex industry and he’s right in there. It’s all about depravity in British politics.”

Writers, Gran and Marks, say they originally thought they would be writing a comedy about B’Stard shamelessly changing his spots to shift from Tory to Labour.

But now they say they realise the MP fits seamlessly into the current Labour Party.

Gran says: “We never thought they would be quite so ghastly quite so quickly and that they would give us so much ammunition.

“We wondered about Alan changing sides a long time ago but New Labour was popular then.

“Now the time is right.

“You can’t do something as beastly as we are unless the party is lying on the floor with a big ‘kick me’ sign on it.”

When I finally manage to slip a question in, I ask if it’s true that the show is constantly changing.

“Yeah, the writers are travelling with us and adding bits all the time,” he says. “The Queen’s birthday gave us some great material, and with Prescott, well, we should have another 20 gags by the time we get to you in Oxford next week.

“I love the theatre,” he continues, before I get chance to ask another.

“With television you’re surrounded by a load of middle class people saying things like “Oh, it’s best you don’t tell that kind of joke there,” and “Oh we couldn’t possibly do that!”.

“But theatre is all about free speech – it’s the best.”

One of the first and foremost ‘alternative’ comedians in the UK, Mayall was born just outside Harlow in Essex to drama teacher parents.

His acting debut was at the age of seven when he appeared in one of his father’s stage plays.

He met his comedy partner and friend Adrian “Ade” Edmondson at Manchester University in 1975.

They soon began performing together as a comedy act called Twentieth Century Coyote at the now legendary Comedy Store in London, before moving their act to a venue called The Comic Strip.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Mayall wrote The Young Ones(1982) with Ben Elton and Lise Mayer, and at only 24 years of age became one of the most popular comedians in Britain.

Bottom, again a huge hit, saw him team up with Ade Edmonson again.The show only ran for three series but became such a cult hit that they toured it in theatres for years afterwards.

He played Alan B’Stard in four series of The New Statesman, winning several awards, including a Bafta and an Emmy.

“B’Stard is now 50”, I say. “Has he calmed down any?”

Mayall replies: “If anything he’s even worse!”

Once a B’stard.

By Damien Fletcher for The Mirror, 28th April 2006

Rik Mayall is back playing the slimy MP Alan B’stard who’s abandoned the tories for New Labour.

The B’stard is back – and he’s on a revenge mission. Comic Rik Mayall has resurrected his nastiest character, the psychotically ambitious MP Alan B’stard, and is taking him on a tour of the nation’s theatres in a bid to speed Tony Blair’s departure from office.

Using his whiniest Young Onesvoice, Mayall explains why he’s not one of the PM’s biggest fans. “It seems like I’m the only one who didn’t get invited to No 10 Downing Street. Everybody else did. Harry Enfield got invited there, Oasis got invited there, I think even French and Saunders did. But I didn’t, did I?

“But that’s not why I’m going on tour to take the p*** out of Tony, honest!”

Rik first unleashed B’stard in 1987 as the star of TV political sitcom The New Statesman. Now the conniving politician is making an unlikely comeback onstage.

“The trouble with political comedy is that it’s a bit less cutting than it used to be,” says Rik, 48. “These days it’s more about making fun of politicians’ mannerisms than going for the jugular.

“It’s so difficult to get a political gag on telly now. I had terrible trouble with a show called Believe Nothingon ITV in 2002 where it was censored before we were allowed to record it.

“They were telling me, ‘You can’t say that joke, that one’s got to go’. But we still have freedom of speech in British theatres so I can say what I want and we can write what we want. That’s why B’stard is back on stage.”

Thankfully Rik has also made a full recovery from the serious quad bike accident which nearly killed him in 1998.

“Nearly 2000 years after Jesus Christ was nailed up on the cross,” he smiles, “the good Lord in his wisdom pushed me off my quad bike. It was on Crap Thursday, the day before Good Friday.

“I was in a coma until Easter Monday so I was dead for five days, which means I beat Jesus five-three.

“But I believe God gave me more time on this Earth because my work’s not finished. I have to save the world from Tony Blair.”

Rik is, of course, as outspoken as ever. In October, he blasted the BBC claiming you have to be “black, homosexual or a woman” to work there.

“The BBC2 controller Jane Root rejected this great new show called Hooligans IslandI had written with Adrian Edmonson, and I was fuming,” he explains.

“It was going to be the follow-up to Bottom. The idea was that we were working as airline stewards and there was a terrible plane crash and then we’re stuck living as wild men on this island. Then things happen like a fashion shoot arriving with loads of gorgeous girls and we try to steal a helicopter.

“It was some of the best stuff we’d ever written, but Jane decided it wasn’t funny and said no. It was the first time in my whole life anyone had ever turned us down and I was staggered, deeply shocked and very p****d off.”

And he was doubly hurt when Edmonson decided to stop working with him – for the time being.

“We went on the road with the Bottom live tour in 2003,” says Rik, “and then Ade said, ‘Right that’s it, we’ve done that now. That’s enough’. I didn’t want it to stop. But then again it was me who had said no to continuing with The Young Ones.

“I didn’t agree with his decision, but the idea is that we give it a rest for four or five years and then do something else together. Maybe The Old Onesor something.”

So while his partnership with Edmondson has been put on the back burner, Rik has revived the nasty B’stard.

“It’s about time someone had a go at New Labour anyway,” he says. “Alan is a national treasure and he always comes to the fore whenever a Prime Minister needs removing. I love the character so much and I love him because he’s so evil, beyond anything you can think of.”

But that’s not the only reason he’s touring the country.

“Well, how else am I going to get to shag Condoleezza Rice?” Rik laughs. “I drew up a shortlist which consisted of Halle Berry, Salma Hayek, Penelope Cruise, Pam Grier, Jessica Alba and Penelope Keith. I wanted to get Osama Bin Laden in too, but his agent couldn’t find him.

“I don’t want to give away too many gags but, basically, we learn that Alan joined the Labour Party in 1992 when he realised that the Tories were completely knackered.

“He’d also owned a really s*** holiday camp in Guantanamo Bay that was losing money hand over fist, so he sold it to the Americans for a huge profit. It’s absolutely packed out now.

“It is also possible that Tony Blair himself will come to see us when the tour reaches Bristol next week because his son’s down there, so perhaps he’ll make a personal appearance.

“If he does turn up, I promise to give him a sex scene with Condoleezza, just to say thanks.”

In the past, Rik has played many rebellious characters. So, does he find it tough disciplining his teenage kids after playing rebellious Rick in The Young Ones? “Well, I’m married to a very violent Glaswegian and I’m not allowed to speak in the house,” he replies. “I mustn’t say a word or I get beaten up.”

After a bit of serious drama in the well-received TV show All About Georgelast year, Rik is planning a comedy film project.

“I’ve co-written a movie called The Wreckers,” he reveals. “It’s a 17th-Century West Country film about the American War Of Independence.”

But Rik doesn’t offer further details as he’s keen to get back to plugging his tour, insisting there is a strong environmental reason for seeing it.

“Look, due to global warming, in two years 75 per cent of the theatres in Britain are going to be underwater,” he says.

“So this is the last chance for the British public to see something really good at the theatre.”

My Week: Rik Mayall, Comedian

The Telegraph, 29th April 2006

Rik Mayall tells Laura Barnett about the week he brought Alan B’Stard back to life

Monday
It was the technical rehearsal for my new stage show, The New Statesman – Episode 2006: The Blair B’Stard Projectin Brighton. I managed to break a filing cabinet – the most important prop – and injure an actor’s finger. While everyone else ran around trying to fix them, I relaxed and smoked cigarettes. Then I took the whole cast out for dinner to console them.

Tuesday
I got very excited about wearing Alan B’Stard’s gorgeous pin-stripe suits for the dress rehearsal. They’re made by the oldest suit-makers in London and just right for Alan, who’s a smooth New Labour MP. I really feel the business in them. The show opened in the evening and, thankfully, the punters went wild for it. Afterwards we had a party on the theatre balcony and got very drunk. Everybody was waving and shouting from below. Some of the girls even threw me their pants.

Wednesday
I strolled down to buy fags in the morning feeling a bit nervous about whether the matinee would work. Luckily it did – we had another full house and there were lots of laughs. It was a pretty exhausting show, so I had a nap before the evening performance.

Later we all went to a disco with flashing lights and horrible loud music. I waited for people to come up and talk to me. When they didn’t, I walked back to my hotel.

Thursday
A day off. I stayed in bed for most of it. When I did finally get up I went for a long walk along the beach under huge banners with my face strung from lampposts to advertise the show. With those everywhere it was impossible to stay incognito – people kept coming up and telling me what they thought about the show. I didn’t mind; I love being recognised. In the evening an executive limo took me home to London.

Friday
I met some mates in our favourite pub, The Dog’s Eye off Ladbroke Grove, west London. We stopped drinking by about three when a car came to take me back to Brighton. The evening show was the best yet – everything just seemed to come together. Ben Elton and Tory MP Nicholas Soames were in the audience and both seemed to enjoy it. Afterwards Ben and I walked along the beach, throwing stones at the sea and talking about the plays we’re going to write together. I’ve decided that theatre is the future for me; television is so last century.

How Tony and I Set Up New Labour – Alan B’stard Writes an Exclusive for The First Post on his Return to Brighton

The First Post, 19th April 2006

My goodness, has it really been that long? 1991, eh? Yes, I remember Brighton, with its common volk, with knotted handkerchiefs on their heads, those sleazy hotels where you couldn’t get a Vietnamese prostitute after closing time. I vowed never to come back, but tonight I make my return appearance.

I do have one fond memory of Brighton. I gave one of my finest speeches there at the Conservative Party conference. Standing before a packed auditorium, I told our supporters: “There’s nothing wrong with the education system that £3,500 a term can’t put right, is there? Ditto, the housing shortage. There are thousands of empty houses if you know where to look. I mean, the Algarve is empty six months of the year.

“Yes, what we need in this country are radical solutions, shooting straight from the hip – which brings me on to the NHS. What do we do about waiting lists? Answer’s obvious: shut down the health service. No more lists. After all, in the good old days, you got ill, you were poor, you died. Today, everyone seems to think they have the right to be cured.”

Maggie T was right behind me. She was panting in both lusty euphoria (I think she always had a wet spot for me) and excitement, as I received a seven-minute standing ovation – which is longer than it takes me to satisfy three Vietnamese hostesses. On that afternoon in Brighton, Maggie tipped me to be the next Tory prime minister. But events intervened.

I left the Conservative Party in 1992. It was John Major, that Prince of Greyness, who made me realise that the Tories were no longer the right-wing, hanging-and-flogging party that I was so drawn to in my student days.

So, on September 16, 1992, otherwise known as Black Wednesday, I cleaned up. George Soros and I made £3.3 billion in half an hour. With my half of the dosh I decided to set up a new political party that embraced the values of good, old-fashioned Conservatism.

Thus New Labour was born.

Of course, I needed someone to front it. I found this failed rock ‘n’ roll singer called Blair who had a certain naive charisma: I knew with proper political coaching by yours truly he would adopt all those good old Tory policies.

I was going to call my new party Conservative Lite, but Tony and all his lawyer cronies thought New Labour would at least give the impression of socialism when it came to election time. Tony was right. In ’97 we won and have been in office ever since, with me running the show from my bunker at 9 Downing Street.

And it is about certain important events at 9 Downing Street that I shall be speaking in Brighton tonight. Perhaps I might even tell you what I did with the weapons of mass destruction – but then again, the less said about that, the better. I don’t want the truth about Blair’s War to come out into the open just yet. No, when I’m ready I shall tell the press and the electorate. Oh, all right then, I’ll start to spill the beans in Brighton.

Now I must go. Condi Rice wants a “face-to-face” with me – and this being Brighton, I know what that means. That woman is insatiable.

B’Stard Drops Conservatives for Blair

By Paul Majendie for Reuters, 19th April 2006

LONDON – The most self-serving and principle-free parliamentarian ever to disgrace the House of Commons is back and he’ll do whatever it takes to keep Prime Minister Tony Blair in power.

The despicable spoof Conservative politician Alan B’Stard, who mocked the “Greed is Good” era of rampant capitalism and pilloried Margaret Thatcher’s government in a television satire, has defected to the Labour Party and the theatre.

Writers Maurice Gran and Laurence Marks felt the time was right to revive their most odious creation, played by comedian Rik Mayall, and now it is Blair’s turn to face the flak from a man whose support might be more of a hindrance than a help.

In the popular television series that ended in the early Nineties, B’Stard was pure slime in a pinstripe suit. Mayall’s character was a member of parliament whose lust for power was only matched by his penchant for devious schemes and an unerring ability to sniff out political advantage.

In the new stage play the suit is the same but the “minister without portfolio or scruple” now sports a Labour rosette.

With Blair’s government embroiled in a row over claims that peerages were awarded to Labour party donors, Gran said he relished the fortuitous timing for the opening of “The New Statesman – Episode 2006:The Blair B’Stard Project” in Brighton on Wednesday.

“The timing of our play could not be better,” he told Reuters ahead of the first night. “It is good to kick them when they are down. When else do you kick someone?”

After Labour spent 18 years in the political wilderness, Blair swept to power in 1997 promising a sleaze-free administration. Something which Gran says has made the government ripe for parody.

“If you ride into town on a white horse with a white hat and waving a white banner, you are going to disappoint people more than if you came in on the bus,” Gran said. “Labour were riding for a fall.

“I don’t know what the Labour Party is any more. It is really a bunch of people who are told after 18 months the best way to give up smoking is to cut your hands off. They have abandoned most of what they believe in,” he said.

Gran thinks B’Stard succeeded as a popular icon symbolising the greed of an ego-driven generation because of his complete lack of hypocrisy.

“Saying what you mean, however grotesque, carries a certain aura,” he said.

Gran and Marks once had to rewrite one television series after Thatcher was toppled by her own party. Gran hopes Blair — who has vowed to step down before an election expected in 2009 — does not jump ship early.

“As an exponent of commercial theatre I am rooting for Tony to keep going as long as the show. I quite like having him there to take the mickey out of,” he said.

But he poured scorn on Blair’s potential successors.

“When you go through the sorry catalogue of possible alternatives, you realise this is a pretty mediocre bunch. At the peak of Thatcherism, she at least had a bunch of heavyweights. This is a bunch of jokers,” he said.