ByKevin Shields, writer at
Irish film reviewer and creator of Cracked-Reel ( - Avid film watcher, writer and ranter. 100% uncensored.
Kevin Shields

As some of you may have unfortunately learned today, an absolute king of comedy has passed away. At the minute it is unknown how he died but I'm sure the details will surface at some stage soon.

He has a huge body of work behind him but there is some in particular that stand out to me having grown up with his comedy work. I had been watching Bottom since I was about 3 (Probably shouldn't have but fuck it, it helped sculpt the sense of humour that I have today!) and The Young Ones a couple of years later. The latter I never really got to appreciate til I was older cause it's downright fucking mental!

As you can tell it's a supremely 80's commentary on daft teenagers, though I didn't really get a lot of it at my age, I always watched and loved it! (And was somewhat horrified by the finale). He played the cleverly named "Rick" - A teenager desperate to be cool with his friends but always ends up looking like a knob. Bringing hilarity to the table of course! Probably the most surreal show on tv!

Rick from The Young Ones
Rick from The Young Ones

He was always brilliant at false immaturity and slap-stick stupidity and he got to demonstrate that in the US with his portrayal of utter pain in the arse and imaginary friend, Drop Dead Fred.

Drop Dead Fred in... well, Drop Dead Fred.
Drop Dead Fred in... well, Drop Dead Fred.

This was one I enjoyed the second time round as a kid because I was expecting to see more of Richard Richard from Bottom, but I got something (slightly) more serious and youth friendly. Either way, this is a childhood favourite romp that I haven't actually seen since I was at LEAST 10, so a definite rewatch is on the cards. This scene in particular always stood out because I could never, EVER forget how much of a pain in the arse it would be to deal with... also the fact if any kid did this, they'd get an absolute thrashing from their parents.

This scene here also illustrates the pervy characters he always plays, the infamous "Eye-brow/upper-lip raise" - Also his immaculate pronunciation of swear words, in this case "Bitch" is uttered numerous times. They couldn't have picked a better actor for this character, I hope to fuck this isn't remade with fucking Jay Baruchel or something playing him.

This next one isn't necessarily a childhood favourite, as I only saw it last year, but he was a MASSIVE part of the new wave of British comedy. He was essentially the Jack Nicholson or Peter Fonda of the late 60's when they rebelled and did their own style of films without intrusion. Himself, Ade Edmondson and the rest of The Comic Strip blasted in with their "Punk-Rock" style of comedy in the 80's after The Young Ones with The Comic Strip Presents, a collection of 30 - 60 minute short films that were all independent stories (Excluding a few sequels) - The two most memorable are:

Bad News Tour:

On the Right as Colin Grigson in Bad News Tour.
On the Right as Colin Grigson in Bad News Tour.

Bad News Tour is essentially the original This Is Spinal Tap, released a year before and the same idea of a mockumentary, this time following a bunch of down and out rockers on their tour. Comic Strip was great for allowing him to try out lots and lots of new characters without being roped into a full series, a definite experimental time but chock full of comedy gold.


Mr. Jolly Lives Next Door:

On the left as Dreamy Time Escort
On the left as Dreamy Time Escort

This to me is basically the precursor to Bottom, following two bumbling idiots as they accidentally get involved with a gang of hitmen and an axe murdering serial killer that lives next door to them. Directed by the now well established, Stephen Frears, it properly demonstrated the slap-stick madness that would follow only two years later in Bottom. Dropping the surreal aspects of The Young Ones, Needlessly violent, dumb, impossible and absolutely hilarious.

Before moving on to his most unparalleled piece of genius, it's hard to forget one of his most memorable characters in the supremely hilarious, Blackadder; Lord Flashheart, the ultra confident, suave, innuendo spewing, punchy and hysterically funny super hero of the various historical times. Always arriving to save the day and generally to nut someone in the face, always accompanied by a grandiose entrance.

He was my favourite in the best season of Blackadder, Blackadder Goes Forth, set during World War I, but his Flashheart portrayal in Blackadder II is absolutely hilarious. Bursting with innuendos, mustaches falling off and the greatest headbutt in TV history.

Of course we now move on to what is possibly the greatest British comedy in history, or at least neck and neck with Fawlty Towers, my personal ALL TIME favourite comedy, Bottom.

He plays Richard Richard (Richie), a complete man-child in his early 30's who is utterly desperate for any kind of love and living with his street savvy but equally childish friend, Eddie Hitler. Whether they're hanging around at home or at the local pub, they always end up kicking the shit out of each other or getting the shit kicked out of them by the public and it NEVER fails to be funny. The three seasons have been watched by me completely about 30 times over, easily. I basically watch it once a year. I could literally ramble on for hours about this program but I shan't bore you all, so here is a few select clips of utter gold from Rik himself.

This episode is probably the most memorable of the whole series and easily the one of the funniest one's ever made. Both of these scenes together are comical gold, his story is pure genius and followed by the most unnecessary and brutal beating of all time.

Here's a perfect example of how much of a man child he can be, as well as some top notch slapstick fun. This house has taken a pounding in basically every episode.

This is by far one of the funniest moments of the whole series, his face is absolute magic as he brings in the umbrella and checks it's sharpness. A prime example of his pain in the hole character style too.

Here is an absolutely solid gold moment of him falling down the stairs in his attempt to recreate a current affairs program in the same vein as Kilroy. His face as he falls may very well be THE funniest moment. There's definitely many.

It's a truly sad die when a piece of your childhood passes on, and it's happened before witht he late, great Leslie Nielsen, so I think my part 2 will be about him!

There is still a few of his shows I never really got to see as a kid, such as Filthy Rich & Catflap and The New Statesman, but it I've seen all I need to see to know that Rik Mayall is a pivotal point in British comedy and will most certainly always be remembered for that! Bringing together the perfect balance of intelligent comedy and full blown crude slap-stick. He is one of the comedy greats and will be sorely missed.

Here is a cameo of his I almost forgot from An American Werewolf In London, he can be seen sitting with Brain Glover who plays Mr. Rottweiller in the classic episode of Bottom, Gas.

And finally let's not forget his hysterically funny Zelda advert for the Gameboy! Sums him up in a nutshell.



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