Date of Birth : Mar 7th 1958
Born in Harlow, Essex in 1958 to drama teacher parents, comedy performer and writer Rik Mayall was an integral member of the ‘alternative comedy’ scene that emerged on British television in the 1980s, and is most famous for his role as the obnoxious poetry-writing sociology student Rick in anarchic sitcom The Young Ones (BBC 1982, 1984), the huge success of which owed a great deal to Mayall’s energy and screen presence. His performance as Rick was loud, shrill, physical and totally uninhibited, endearing viewers to the character’s awfulness and the hypocrisy of his outspoken anarchism (at heart, Rick was deeply conservative). Mayall’s readiness to embrace abhorrent characters was key to the success of his persona, and he carried this over to later characters in shows like The New Statesman (ITV 1987-1992, BBC 1994) and Bottom (BBC, 1991-1995).
Mayall met his comedy partner Adrian Edmondson in 1975 whilst a student at the University of Manchester. He performed sketches and stand-up in The Comedy Store and The Comic Strip Club in London as part of a double act called with Edmondson called ‘Twentieth Century Coyote’. This led to his television debut performing solo on Boom Boom… Out Go The Lights (BBC, 1980), where he introduced a version of the character that would go on to become The Young Ones’ Rick. Similarly, Mayall and Edmondson’s stage act ‘The Dangerous Brothers’ would go on to appear each week in the first series of Saturday Live (Channel 4 1985-1987). This was an idea borrowed from the US sketch/stand-up show Saturday Night Live, which attempted to televise the energy of London’s comedy club scene, though their segments were pre-recorded sketches rather than live television performances.