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  1. Culture
9 June 2014

Actor, comedian and Young Ones star Rik Mayall has died, aged 56

The iconic comedian has passed away.

By Anoosh Chakelian

The English actor, writer and star comedian of The Young Ones and Blackadder fame Rik Mayall has passed away at the age of 56, his manager has said today.

He is best-known for playing the feckless, anarchic role of Rick in alternative 1980s sitcom The Young Ones (1982-84). His character was a poetry-writing, attention-seeking, self-proclaimed anarchist, who one of the show’s creators Ben Elton once described as a “try-hard wannabe leftie”.

Here’s Mayall in action as Rick:

Mayall was also much-loved for his appearance as the thrusting, flambouyant rogue Flashheart in Blackadder (1983-99). Here’s his grand entrance:

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He went on to act alongside his Young Ones co-star Adrian Edmondson in cult series Bottom (1991-95), and also played the sociopathic right-wing Tory MP Alan B’Stard in a show called The New Statesman (1987-92), which satirised the Conservative government of the time (he even had a column in the NS). Below is a party-political broadcast from the backbencher:

Mayall also appeared in children’s television programme Jackanory (1986). The BBC received complaints following his eccentric portrayal of Roald Dahl’s George’s Marvellous Medicine for being “dangerous and offensive”. Watch his take on the classic children’s tale here:

In a copy of the New Statesman dated 8 February 1985, Mayall’s turn as the main part in The Government Inspector is reviewed by writer Benedict Nightingale, who describes his performance as “a very bright, busy performance, but it could be subtler”:

In a later New Statesman issue, dated 2 May 1986, Mayall’s performance on Comic Relief was praised by writer Hugo Williams, who wrote, “I love his winsome audience chat-up”:

He will be remembered as a pioneering, fearless alternative comedian. Here’s his first, and final, tweet:

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