This Is Not A
Richard Michael Mayall
Actor, comedian, writer
b. 7 March 1958, d. 9 June 2014
Now this is depressing.
It's the inevitable accompaniment of advancing age that the public figures you grow up with - in politics, sport, culture or what-'ave-yew - will drop off the twig and leave you counting your memories in a state of advancing melancholia (not to say, panic). But when it stops being just the icons of your childhood and starts being the players on the stage of your adulthood, that becomes too disturbing for words.
Rik Mayall's manic energy and instinctive talent drove him to create at least three of the most memorable comedy characters of the last thirty-odd years. Firstly, the hopelessly naïve and self-aggrandising student 'people's poet' in The Young Ones; then the swashbuckling narcissist Lord Flashheart in Blackadder; and finally, the venal, amoral, sociopathic backbench ultra-Thatcherite MP Alan B'stard in The New Statesmen. In each of these rôles (and in others), he combined a forceful, almost characature-like exposition of the character's dominant traits, yet always with a hint at each one's deep-seated vulnerability and self-delusion.
His part in the revitalising of television comedy from the early 80s onward cannot be overlooked and cannot be overstated, and his loss at such a young age deprives us of the possibility of the portrayals which he most certainly still had left in him.
It's not funny anymore...