Seeing Rik, The New Statesman, Your Stories

Carl’s memories of Rik Mayall

Thank you to: Carl Pollington

I think Carl has been enjoying reading my memories, it seems to have struck a cord with his own childhood. It would also seem I’m not the only one to make up their own VHS covers for their video tapes too. Thank you Carl for sending in your memories of Rik:

I too am a huge Rik Mayall fan and have been since I was allowed to stay up late on a Tuesday night to watch series one of Bottom with my dad. I was born in 1982 so I started quite young and like you I recorded everything on TV avidly. I even had a Saisho VCR although ours recorded sound just fine. We didn’t have remote control though. I would even for a while sit at the VCR with it on play-record-pause at each advert break in case the Nintendo ads he was in came on! (Yes! I did that too Carl!!)

And I laughed out loud at your Bottom video cover because I drew my own one for my series 2 recordings.

On the back I listed five of the six episodes and never added the sixth; I don’t know if you will remember that the episode in Wimbledon Common was delayed due to news events at the time. I never went back to fill the title in and I ended up recording some French and Saunders in its place. (Yep! I did that too Carl, but I did manage to get Bottom’s Out taped onto the end.) saved up pocket money to buy Kevin Turvey, one half of Filthy Rich and Catflap and eventually Drop Dead Fred. I have not seen this film since Rik passed as I know the scene about him having to finally leave ‘snot face’ will reduce me to blubbering as it would feel like him really saying goodbye to us all.

I remember the first Bottom live video coming out and buying it from WH Smith (my dad had to get it as it was an 18 certificate and I was only eleven!). Two years previously from the same shop I had bought the series one Bottom scripts hardback book which my dad recently found in his loft and gave back to me, along with my 1995 Radio Times interview of him. I had a signed photo but cannot find this now 😦

Carl’s Radio Times article – 28th January – 3rd February 1995

I saw Rik live only once. It was at the Ipswich Regent on the 7th April 2007 in his New Statesman tour. I had the afternoon rather than evening performance and was sitting near the centre of the room, near an aisle running down the centre to the stage. At one point Rik screwed up some paper and threw it at his co-performer but it missed him and landed right at my friend’s foot. We didn’t know what to do and I sat their completely confused. I heard rik ad lib “I’m not going down there to get it!” in a faux-sneering way. The co-performer went to the edge of the stage and quietly asked for the ball of paper back which my friend took up to the stage for him! 
I sat through that performance with an unshakable huge grin on my face. It ached after the show, which was incredibly funny and had a lot of current events worked in as jokes. Some bits where Rik fluffed he would say ‘that bit’s new’ but I’m sure not all of it was.

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Everything I have read about him – despite my obvious bias towards him – suggests he was a lovely man, and despite being kind and handsome he revelled in playing ugly and selfish people. But in Grimm Tales he showed the range of his comic performance worked just as well when he was entertaining children, and Rik Mayall Presents is a firm favourite for his dramatic comedy performances.

I feel privileged I saw Rik live and it really does hurt that he is gone. Being so young makes it harder, too, as does the amount of time that passed since he was really at his peak. I have rewritten the end of my comment several times as it comes across too sad. So I’ll leave it here and sign off with the words Rik said at the end of the New Statesman performance I saw live:

“We’ve had your money, the bar’s closed, now Fuck off home!”


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