Tributes pour in for comedian and actor Rik Mayall, who has died aged 56
Tributes have been paid in Norfolk to comedian and actor Rik Mayall
The star shot to fame playing Rick in The Young Ones, with his career boasting an impressive list of appearances in shows such as Blackadder, Bottom and The New Statesman.
The father-of-three’s management firm confirmed the death, with tributes pouring in from the acting world.
Stephen Fry, who starred in The Young Ones alongside Mayall, said: “Simply distraught to hear of the death of Rik Mayall. An authentic comedy genius and a prince among men.”
Peter Wilson, chief executive at Norwich Theatre Royal, spoke of his sadness at the news - which comes 21 years to the week after the star tread the boards at the theatre in the stage version of his TV hit Bottom, opposite co-star Adrian Edmondson.
“He was a genius whose anarchic humour helped define the genre of alternative comedy and saw him create a host of iconic characters,” Mr Wilson said. “From the tantrum-throwing Rik in the Young Ones to Lord Flashheart in Blackadder and the malevolent MP Alan B’Stard in The New Statesman, he had the enviable quality of being able to inject just about the right amount of believability into each of his comic creations while simultaneously making them gloriously over-the-top.”
“Rik’s death leaves an enormous gap in the worlds of comedy and entertainment,” he added.
Mayall also took to the stage in Norfolk at the University of East Anglia’s LCR, with shows in June 1982, March 1983, June 1987 and October 1987.
Caz Slota, marking manager at Norwich Playhouse, spoke of Mayall’s “huge and lasting influence on British comedy”.
She added: “He was a central part of the alternative comedy scene of the early 1980s, and was instrumental in bringing that style of comedy into the mainstream.
“Through his work on TV shows like The Young Ones and The Comic Strip Presents, and later Bottom and Blackadder, he inspired many of the comedians who currently tour to Norwich Playhouse.”
Fellow actors, comedians and fans of the star also took to Twitter to pay tribute.
David Walliams said: “I am heartbroken that my comedy idol growing up Rik Mayall has died. Me made me want to be a comedian.”
“Growing up there was no one funnier,” said The Mighty Boosh comedian Noel Fielding. “We will really miss you Rik Mayall you genius.”
Emma Freud, whose partner Richard Curtis co-wrote Blackadder and The Young Ones, posted a link to Mayall’s first, and only, tweet.
“Opening my very own Twitter to stop another bastard from doing it,” the comedian had written. “Don’t expect to hear from me any time soon.”
Mayall was left in a coma for several days after a quad bike accident in 1998.
Speaking about the accident last year, Mayall said doctors had kept him alive on a life-support machine for five days and were about to turn it off when he began to show signs of life.
He said the near-death experience changed his life.
“The main difference between now and before my accident is I’m just very glad to be alive.
“Other people get moody in their forties and fifties - men get the male menopause. I missed the whole thing. I was just really happy,” he added.
Mayall also appeared on the big screen in films including Drop Dead Fred.
One of his most recent roles was in the TV show Man Down, where he played the father of a teacher whose girlfriend had left him.
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