'Comedy genius' Mayall dies at 56
Published 09/06/2014 | 16:12
Rik Mayall has died at home aged 56, his management firm said.
It is believed the star's wife found him at home in London.
Mayall, who shot to fame playing Rick in The Young Ones, had survived an almost fatal accident more than 10 years ago when a quad bike accident left him in a coma for several days.
His career included appearances in shows including Blackadder, Bottom and The New Statesman where he played the conniving Conservative MP Alan B'Stard.
Among those paying tribute to Mayall, who was married with three children, was David Walliams, who said: "I am heartbroken that my comedy idol growing up, Rik Mayall, has died. He made me want to be a comedian."
Impressionist Rory Bremner said: "Oh no. Awful news about Rik Mayall - a fireball of creative comic energy and inspiration. Such brilliant raw talent."
A Scotland Yard spokesman said officers were called by London Ambulance Service to a house in Barnes, south-west London at around 1.20pm where "a man, aged in his 50s, was pronounced dead at the scene".
The death is not believed to be suspicious, he added.
A London Ambulance Service spokesman confirmed they had been called to the house at 12:07.
Paying tribute, Blackadder producer John Lloyd said Mayall was "just extraordinary".
Speaking to BBC News, he said: "It's really a dreadful piece of news. I remember going to the very first night of the Comedy Store and thinking 'Where does this come from?'.
"It was the most extraordinary thing, him and Ade Edmondson doing the Dangerous Brothers, they were called, and you just felt you were in the presence of something, a whole revolutionary thing."
Speaking about the 1998 accident that nearly killed him, 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 used to mark the occasion by exchanging presents with his wife and children and said the near-death experience changed his life.
He said: "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 started on stage in a duo, The Dangerous Brothers, with long-time collaborator Adrian Edmondson after they met at Manchester University
The pair, who appeared together in The Young Ones, reprised their original act in the anarchic comedy Bottom.
BBC director of television Danny Cohen said: "Rik Mayall was a truly brilliant comedian. His comic timing was outstanding and his screen presence unique. For a generation of viewers he was a true comedy hero."
Mayall, who was born in Harlow, Essex, to drama teacher parents, also appeared in shows including Filthy, Rich and Catflap.
Actress Helen Lederer, who appeared in The Young Ones, tweeted: "Rik Mayall, I loved you. Gutted. The man who taught me not to crash laughs, has crashed. Real love to wife, children. Massive loss."
Comedy star Noel Fielding wrote: "Growing up there was no-one funnier! We will really miss you Rik Mayall you genius."
Trainspotting writer Irvine Welsh wrote: "Rik Mayall spread a lot of fun and laughter. Very sad to see him taken before his time."
Actor David Harewood said: "RIP Rik Mayall. Great comedian and actor. Funny, brilliant and sharp as nails."
Writing on Twitter, Bob Mortimer said: "Last time I saw him he grabbed my crotch and said 'Not eaten yet then?" So sad.. Funniest man of his generation."