Books, Meeting Rik, Seeing Rik, Your Stories

Early Rik: Thoughts of a Clown. Rik Mayall in the Early Eighties – Book by Chris Shields

Like buses you wait ages and then two come along at once. I’m referring to self published books about Rik Mayall. Mark Searby in early 2020 released his, attempting to cover Rik’s whole career. But wait only a short while longer and another one comes along. This time concentrating on Rik’s early years.

It’s these years that really interest me, the years where Rik was probably at his most raw, edgy, unpredictable and groundbreaking. For me at his very finest.

Written and put together by Chris Shields, a musician, composer, writer and historian. Chris is a big fan of British comedy and this is his fourth non-fiction book.

Like Chris I had always wanted to read a biography about Rik Mayall. Rik’s own autobiography, I have tried to read on many occasions but have never found myself enjoying it as much as I wanted to. Don’t get me wrong, it certainly is fun and a very entertaining read. But I agree with Chris, it’s more of a ‘The Rik Mayall’ comedy book. So when Chris got in touch to say he’d written a book about Rik’s early career, my ears pricked up.

Chris like me in his youth collected a lot of old newspaper clippings, magazines and memorbellia and followed Rik’s career very closely in the early eighties. In his book he has lovingly collated his wealth of articles and put together a lovely book of Rik’s early days. Because he has used a lot of information from those early interviews and cuttings. It really does feel like you are getting to understand more about the mind of the young Rik Mayall.  You hear it from Rik, what he was thinking when he started out, rather than one persons take on what they believed the real Rik Mayall to be like. Plus there’s some great rare pictures included in it too.

new cover

Here’s how it started for Chris…

On Tuesday 9th November 1982 at 9pm on BBC2, I sat and watched The Young Ones. At the time I was a second-year schoolboy at a South London comprehensive. Little did I realise just what an effect this TV show would have on me. I just sat there transfixed – maybe even a little shocked – I was only eleven after all. At school the next day, all we could talk about was last night’s episode of The Young Ones – recalling different lines and acting out different bits. This was to be our gang’s new thing in common and something that would see us right through secondary school. I saw Rik 13 times live and met him 9 times. 4 times at the NT. Once at Comic Relief at the Shaftesbury. I was on my way to the National Theatre once in 1985 on the northern line tube from Tottenham Court Road. I’d only met him the week before at the NT stagedoor but I was a bit mad at the time and wanted to get some free leaflets that day. As I sat there on the tube there Rik sat in the next carriage reading the guardian newspaper. As it stopped at Waterloo he got up and I timed it so we met at the tube doors. He looked at me and pulled a face of recognition but I was so shy that I just looked at the floor. Instead of saying hello and having a nice walk to the NT he suddenly thought he had a stalker so immediately rushed off. My friend and I walked to the NT just behind him. A big regret. I wish I’d said hello.

You can purchase Chris’s book from:

And now available to buy on Amazon

Chris has also uploaded these three videos to YouTube…

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