One Year On: Rik Mayall’s Best Bits

Rick in The Young Ones (1982-1984)

Mayall was probably best known for his performance as prudish, wannabe anarchist and Cliff Richard lover, Rick, in The Young Ones. Co-written by Mayall, Ben Elton and Lise Mayer, the show was at the forefront of alternative comedy, employing an anarchic and utterly offbeat sense of humour that still resonates with audiences today. The show – which ran for only two series – followed the eccentric and often ridiculous exploits of four students; Vyvyan (Adrian Edmondson), Neil (Nigel Planer), Mike (Christopher Ryan) and Rick. The series combined the classic sitcom format with violent slapstick, absurd plot twists and surrealism. Almost every episode also featured a live performance from a band – with groups like Motorhead and Madness all appearing apropos during the show. The show’s musical connections extended when the cast recorded a rendition of Cliff Richard’s ‘Living Doll’ for Comic Relief.

What makes Mayall’s performance so memorable are the long-winded, social-anarchist tirades that his character would often engage in (“The bathroom’s free, unlike the Thatcherite junta!”), purely to make himself the centre of attention. The self-professed ‘People’s Poet’ also provided many laughs through his constant and often violent altercations with Vyvyan. A master in the physical art of gurning, Mayall could command each scene with ease, providing laughs by the bucketful with a single gesture. In this clip, Rick and Vyvyan embarass themselves in front of their female party guests, to hilarious consequence.

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