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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.

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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: www.lulu.com

www.chrisshieldsmusic.com

Chris has also uploaded these three videos to YouTube…

 

 

Other, Watching Rik

Hardwicke House

Let me take you back to 1987. I was 12 years old, about to start secondary school and was getting really into many TV comedy shows. June that year saw the U.K Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher win her third landslide victory for the Conservative Party and was still our Prime Minister!! But earlier in February that year, saw ITV launch a brand new sitcom, set in a large comprehensive school called Hardwicke House. Produced for ITV by Central Independent Television.

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Episode 1 aired on Tuesday 24th February in 1987, with an hour length episode, starting at 8.30pm. I remember vividly sitting down to watch it, it had been given a good amount of publicity, and plus there were some very recognisable people in it that I liked. To me, a 12 year old girl embarking on secondary school life, this comedy was right up my street. I’d been a big fan of Grange Hill and the televised series of Adrian Mole. This new show felt a little bit like those, but quite a bit naughtier!

ITV, made a big mistake though, airing the first episode at 8.30pm. It just wasn’t the sort of show ITV usually aired at that time in the evening. Most people tuning in back then to ITV expected to see fairly light fluffy gentle comedy the whole family could sit down and watch together. If it had gone out after 9pm from the start, it would probably would have gained the cult following it was after. This was ITV trying to be ‘Alternative’. As a pre-teen though sitting down to watch on my own, I remember enjoying it and looked forward to episode 2. This was shown the following night on Wednesday 25th February at 9pm for the normal 30 minute slot. A far better time slot for the program and I was just starting to get into the show…

But then when I tried to tune in the next week, I discover that it wasn’t on, god I was disappointed, what had happened? Well, turned out there had been so many complaints about the show ITV decided to pull it and not air the rest of the series. Rik and Ade I discovered were due to make an appearance in a future episode too! In episode 5 – Old Boys.

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Many of us thought we’d never get to see their appearance in the show, but fast forward 30+ years and some kind sole has uploaded the whole 7 episode series to YouTube, so finally those of us who were upset the show got pulled can now sit and binge the whole series.

It really isn’t that bad, admittedly it’s not great either! It’s a kind of 25 years earlier awkward version of Bad Eduction and those new to it now will probably think, what was all the fuss about?

Bottom Live, Meeting Rik, Seeing Rik, Your Stories

Shaun and Tom take Rik from Behind!

Thank you to: Shaun Gibson

We managed to meet Rik once during the Hooligans Island tour in 1997, in Oxford. My best chum Tom and I were there for the show, but decided to make a day of it and made it a pub day, talking all things Bottom and Rik.

On the way back to the pub from popping into HMV to see the new Bottom boxset (the one with all the VHS’s including fluff) Rik strolled past us! We couldn’t believe it. We followed him for a bit, took a photo of the back of him! and eventually, and nervously sidled up to him and my mate said “do you realise how much money we’ve spent on you”, Rik said “Thank you, I just spent it on lunch”, then did a massive belly laugh and we noticed his cigar stained back teeth! We walked with him for about 15 mins, he quizzed us on Bottom (which was random), we mentioned the boxset, which he had no knowledge of! Told us about ‘Bring me the head of Mavis Davis’ that he’d recently filmed, said he bleached his hair, but said “Kenneth Branagh stole my whole fucking look, cunt” then laughed and said his wife enjoyed it!

Shaun Gibson, Rik from behind!!
The Back of Rik, walking down the street!!!

Then I asked him about my school french teacher, and he confirmed that they used to date! (pre young ones) I never believed her. Lol.

But what a great moment, we were buzzing! We also told him we’d be giving him and Ade a standing ovation at the end of the show, we were actually the only 2 to do so, Rik pointed and bowed his head in recognition.

On the day in Oxford just before we bumped into Rik, we genuinely walked past a small side road called the ‘Lamb and Flag Passage’
Perfection 😂👍🏻

We were too shy to ask for a photo whilst chatting, we were worried he’d be annoyed. Shame, but like a beam of light in my memory. RIP Rik -x-

And here’s a small sample of Shaun’s collection and how much money he must have spent on Rik!