Rik Mayall from the movie Drop Dead Fred, dead at age 56
Rik Mayall was an English comedian, writer and actor. Mayall is best known for his comedy partnership with Adrian Edmondson, his over-the-top, energetic portrayal of characters and as a pioneer of alternative comedy in the early 1980s. He appeared in numerous sitcoms including The Young Ones, Blackadder, The New Statesman, and Bottom; and the big screen in comedy films Drop Dead Fred and Guest House Paradiso.
Mayall died at his home in Barnes, London on 9 June 2014. After being called to the house with a report of a sudden death at 13:19, the Metropolitan Police said the death was not believed to be suspicious. His death was announced by his management team. Tributes were paid by the comedy producer John Lloyd, the comedian David Walliams, and the film director Edgar Wright, among others.
On 9 April 1998, Mayall was injured after crashing a quad bike near his home in Devon. Mayall’s daughter Bonnie and her cousin had asked him to take them for a ride on the bike – a Christmas gift from his wife – but he refused due to rain, and went alone. Mayall’s wife Barbara looked out the window and saw him lying on the ground with the bike. Believing he was joking she initially left him for a few minutes. He was in a coma for several days. Mayall was airlifted to Plymouth’s Derriford Hospital, with two haematomas and a fractured skull. During the following 96 hours, Mayall was kept sedated to prevent movement which could cause pressure on his brain. His family was warned he could die or have brain damage.
After five days doctors felt it safe to bring Mayall back to consciousness. In his 2005 spoof biography, Mayall claims he “rose from the dead”. During Mayall’s hospitalization, the Comic Strip special Four Men in a Car was broadcast for the first time. The film involves Mayall’s character being hit by a car. Mayall and Edmondson have joked about this event in stage versions of Bottom, Edmondson quipping: ‘If only I’d fixed those brakes properly’, and Mayall referring to himself: ‘You must know him, that tosser who fell off the Quad Bike’. The pair wrote the first draft of their feature film Guest House Paradiso while Mayall was hospitalised. They planned to co-direct but Edmondson took on the duties himself. Mayall returned to work doing voice-overs. His first post-accident acting job was in the 1998 Jonathan Creek Christmas special, as DI Gideon Pryke, a role he reprised in 2013.
Richard Michael “Rik” Mayall (7 March 1958 – 9 June 2014)