Rik Mayall, British Cult Comedy Star, Dies at 56
LONDON -- British comedian and actor Rik Mayall, a cult comedy hero to a generation after his turn as poetry-writing anarchist Rick in The Young Ones ignited a long TV career, died Monday at the age of 56, his management company Brunskill said.
Brunskill said it would issue a further statement later.
Mayall starred in The Young Ones alongside his friend Adrian Edmondson before the duo went on to write and star in the sitcom Bottom.
Mayall also appeared in shows including Blackadder and The New Statesman.
On the big screen, Mayall had roles in the comedies Drop Dead Fred and Guest House Paradiso.
His big break came at the Comic Strip Club, performing with Edmondson as 20th Century Coyote in the 1980s, which led to Mayall's cult television hit The Comic Strip Presents.
He co-wrote The Young Ones with Lise Mayer and Ben Elton.
Mayall and Edmondson's slapstick comedy often involved fires, explosions and hefty blows to the head with a frying pan in Bottom.
His turn as an exceptionally loud-mouthed and lecherous Lord Flashheart in BBC comedy series Blackadder, starring Rowan Atkinson, further cemented his status as cult comedic performer, bellowing catchphrases like "woof!" and "let's do-oo-oo it!"
He went on to portray a smooth, plotting Conservative politician named Alan B'Stard in The New Statesman, which aired on U.K. commercial broadcaster ITV from 1986 to 1992.
In 1998, a quad bike accident left him seriously ill and in a coma for several days.
Blackadder producer and writer John Lloyd described Mayall's death to the BBC simply: "It's really a dreadful piece of news. He was the most extraordinarily good actor, as well as being an amazing stand-up comic. Apart from being great company, he was a great professional."
Comedian David Walliams took to Twitter to pay tribute, describing Mayall as the reason he wanted to be a comedian.
I am heartbroken that my comedy idol growing up Rik Mayall has died. He made me want to be a comedian... https://t.co/7DAUgjbX9i— David Walliams (@davidwalliams) June 9, 2014
Director Edgar Wright also paid tribute.
Shocked & saddened that a comedy hero is gone; for those who grew up on 'The Young Ones', Rik Mayall was one of the funniest performers ever.— edgarwright (@edgarwright) June 9, 2014
Eric Idle, a Monty Python troupe founder, tweeted that he was very sad to learn of Mayall's death.
Very sad to hear of the passing of Rik Mayall. Far too young. A very funny and talented man.— Eric Idle (@EricIdle) June 9, 2014