The most tragic thing is that we lost Rik just when we are getting him back. He was on the verge of a TV comeback.
Over the years he had developed a love hate relationship with TV. He refused to confine or conform to please TV executives the way he felt his old friends did. This made him a pariah in certain parts of the comedy world but a hero to fans who felt he was the only one who had not “sold out”. His unhappy experience when acting in family TV drama “All About George” proved he was right. He felt so out of place and unhappy in the part he had to chase the director with a golf cub, after an especially strenuous day, to let of steam.
He slowly faded from our screens and moved into the theatre giving an amazing performance of a very different Alan B’stard in the stage version of The New Statesman. After this Rik did more theatre and while also giving amazing performances in indy and other low budget movies. These lost years are such a tragic waste of a big talent and a big detriment to the history of comedy.
A feud with the BBC and a difficult relationship with the media and the establishment soon meant that only the truly faithful were aware he was still working.
Rik kept looking for something else, he was waiting for something and even he did not know what it was. The most important reason for this being that he wanted to continue Bottom with Adrian Edmondson: the break up had hit him hard and it took long for him to recover.
It felt as if his friends had deserted him during these days. They did not talk about him in interviews, barely mentioned him in their autobiographies and did not write him into any of their TV shows. The meagre roles he received in the last few Comic Strip shows are testament to this.
After he died things were … different, of course …
The fact that, for years, he refused to work with the new generations of comics who worshipped and admired him was not a good decision. These where young comics eager to learn from the master who would have given him free reign to do anything he wanted. Had he accepted he would have been part of some of the best loved sketch-shows and sitcoms of the last 15 years in a prominent role.
Things changed in 2012 when the announcement and subsequent cancellation of a new series of Bottom showed him the fans where still there waiting for him. Soon after his re-appearance in Jonathan Creek proved that he still had it and was not in fact “dead” as many who were unaware of his stage and movie roles thought. This kick-started his return to TV and work with young new comics. He soon found that working with the new generation meant being treated with respect. These “kids” loved him, wrote parts especially for him and gave him free reign to do whatever he wanted with them.
For the first time in years Rik begun to feel passionate about comedy again and he was in talks with Steve Coogan and Babycow to help him create a new show he and Ben Elton were working on days before he died.
This makes the loss of Rik even more unfair and hurtful. We had missed him so much for years and here he was: happy and ready to return and he gets taken away. This is one sick joke that will never be funny.
Taken from the upcoming Dr The Rik Mayall, pan-global phenomenon