Rik Mayall, one of the pioneers of “alternative comedy” in the early 80s, died yesterday at age 56.
A legend of British television, Mayall´s leap to fame was due to his interpretation of a dramatic and anarchist poet, who shared a flat with 3 other students, who were almost as weird as him, in London during the 80s. “The Young Ones” revolutionised British TV for it´s fresh and cheeky content.
In the early 90s, Mayall regained credit as an actor after partnering up with fellow comedian Adrian Edmonson in the new BBC comedy “Bottom”. His career as an actor has always been tied to his collaboration with longtime acting partner Edmonson, after having met for the first time in the University of Manchester.
His portrayal of the narcissistic Lord Flashheart in “Blackadder” gave us an endless stream of one-liners that have become used in everyday banter ever since. In the late 80s and early 90s, Mayall gave us the ultra-right wing politician Alan B’stard in The New Statesman. Whilst this was a satirical comedy show, many fans still find an element of familiarity with the modern political world. As horrendous a character Alan B’stard was, he would always come out smelling of roses.
His early death has been a great loss for British popular culture. Mayall´s sense of humour has left it´s footprint in our memory and his legacy is already part of British TV history. You can get a taste of his sense of humour by checking out his first and only Tweet published in 2010: “Opening my very own Twitter to stop another bastard from doing it. So fuck off & don’t expect to hear from me any time soon. Love Rik x”.