Meet Mark Young, in 1991 Mark was a young 24 year old HND photography student at the Kent Institute of Art and Design.
In November of 1991 Mark had tickets to see Waiting for Godot, before the show he decided to go to the stage door of the Queens theatre in London, where Rik and Ade were currently appearing in the play. He met Rik at the stage door and asked if he could take some photos of him for his photography project. Arrangements were made and Mark went back to the theatre a few days later armed with his big rucksack full of Bowen’s Prolites and a heavy Mamiya RZ67 studio camera.
Here’s what he told me:
“I was very nervous, but Rik put me at ease. I was with him for about an hour, although a lot of that time was setting up and taking down the lighting in the backstage dressing room. We even did a selfie shot in the full length mirror together, but I tried too hard to be funny and put on such a ridiculously stupid facial expression that I’m afraid to show it. Whereas he was posing all low key and cool.”
“Halfway through our first shoot, Riks agent called to ask if he’d do another series of The New Statesman. Instead of getting me to leave, he took the call and kept posing for photos throughout the call. Then when I was leaving he called me back towards him, just to tell me: “Oh and Mark… piss off mate!”
“I was on such a high as I left Rik’s dressing room.”
“So as he prepared to go onstage as Vladimir in Waiting for Godot, I was already sitting at the front row of the nearby cinema to watch him in Drop Dead Fred. (I’d already seen him in Godot that first night we met.)”
Rik being the kind generous man he was, invited Mark back to the theatre two weeks later to photograph the rest of the cast.
“Two weeks later, I’d pre-arranged with Rik, Ade and Chris to have them dress like 60’s London Gangsters and we shot the whole thing in the Queen’s theatre backstage corridor. Rik had a cold and was looking unshaven. Chris looked very distinguished with long wavy hair and I noticed how protective Adrian was over Chris when I tried to persuade Mr Ryan to wear a pinstriped suit jacket I’d brought along. Things were a little tense and awkward for a moment before I started shooting… but once the shoot began, Rik and Ade were hilarious – goofing around behind Chris who was looking so powerful at the front of the trio.”
“The pictures have only ever been used in Chris Shields book. Although I’ve had other celebrity pictures published worldwide.”
“I’m so glad that these pictures are finally seeing the light of day.”
“I was supposed to be doing advertising photography but I switched over to editorial when Rik paved the way for me. It gave me such a momentum that I would be in London 3 times a week doing backstage shoots. Next was Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer at the Hammersmith. Then Jools Holland, followed by the Comedy Store players. I worked with Rik and Stephen Fry on Cell Mates the day before Stephen went AWOL… Was it something I said??
“I was a press agency photographer when I did the Cell Mates photo-call at the Richmond Theatre but I hung on until everyone else had left and had a nice chat with Stephen Fry. He showed me an actual real life newspaper photo of the guy he was playing and asked if I thought he looked like him (George Blake). Years later I met Stephen at his book signing and asked if it was my fault that he disappeared the following day from the Cell Mates show. He wrote in my book: “You Bastard, you sent me to Bruges!”
Photographs © Mark Young
Mark was also a photographer at the Guest House Paradiso launch party
Photographs © Mark Young
Watercolour and ink by Mark Young
Visit Mark’s other Redbubble shop for his photography, where among other things you can buy a print of one of Mark’s fantastic Rik Mayall photographs from 1991.
And more of Mark’s photographs of Rik can be found published in the book Early Rik: Thoughts of a Clown by Chris Shields.
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