Comedian and Actor Paul Putner became a Rik Mayall fan as a young teenager in the early 1980’s, when seeing him appear as Kevin Turvey on A Kick Up The Eighties.
“It’s where it all started for me. I never forget going to see An American Werewolf In London at the cinema and half the audience whispering to each other in unison, “It’s Kevin Turvey!” when Rik made his brief cameo in The Slaughtered Lamb.”
Paul told me the story of how many years later he got to meet one of his comedy heroes.
I only met Rik Mayall on the one occasion. It was during an audition around 2001 for a new BBC sitcom called Celeb, based on the Private Eye strip of the same name. Rik was playing an ageing rock star called Gary Bloke and I was reading for his psychotic stalker fan that appeared in one of the episodes.
Instead of just a table read, the director suggested we should get the comic action onto its feet to get a proper feel for it. The scene required me to throttle ‘Gary Bloke’. Naturally, I was a bit apprehensive about stage fighting without proper choreography but Rik winked at me and whispered with an evil grin “Just go for it, Paul.” So I did.
If you had told me that morning I would be attempting to murder one of my comedy heroes in a small BBC office in Shepherd’s Bush, I would’ve spat out my tea like a comedy vicar. I can still see those big, twinkly, crazy eyes nearly popping out their sockets as I had each mauler around his famous iconic comedy actor’s neck. Obviously, I wasn’t gripping his throat too tightly (that privilege was availed only to his wife and Ade Edmondson) but after a faux scuffle on the carpet, we were both certainly puffed out and crimson of hue. As I dusted my self down and tucked my shirt back in, Rik remarked something along the lines of,
“Fucking hell, Ed, how many more actors are we seeing for this part today? I’ve already had one near death experience recently not sure I’m ready for several more! “
He was of course referring to his appalling quad bike accident, a mere two years previously. I thought it was a strong audition as auditions go. Everybody laughed a lot and the director didn’t say, ‘Good luck!’ when we shook hands at the door. That’s never a good sign. Yet sadly, I didn’t get to act opposite Rik, the role went to the great Eddie Marsan. Bastard. However, even Eddie did not experience this honour either as Mayall bailed from Celeb to take the lead in another new sitcom for ITV called, Believe Nothing. Harry Enfield took the role instead. Both sitcoms bombed in 2002 lasting one series each.
That’s show business, eh?
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