Comedy God Rik Mayall talks ‘The Young Ones’ with co-writer Ben Elton from 1985
01:41 pm

Has God seemed distant recently? Does He no longer return your calls? Did He forget your birthday? Does He no longer go down on you?

Well don’t lose faith kids, just say a prayer to Rik Mayall.

Comedy God Rick Mayall may have died in 2014 but he is now up there in Heaven making Jesus laugh with his fart jokes, impressing Moses with his humungous willie, and drawing cartoons for Mohammad.

I tell you, I often say a prayer to Saint Rik of The Young Ones. And you know, most times I get a reply. It could be a merest waft of noxious gas, a childish burp, a disdainful snort, or just the usual disembodied hand waving two-fingers at me.

If people pray to saints and what-have-yous who have been dead for hundreds of years then why not Rik who has hardly been dead at all and brought his penis, I mean happiness to millions of people.

I first came across Rik accidentally when I hit the remote button during a porn movie (ahem) suddenly the screen was filled with this bug-eyed loon reciting poetry about theater and Vanessa Redgrave. Who was this juicy hunk of mammal? What was he doing? Why was he so angry? Why was he so funny?

Mayall was one of those “Alternative Comedians” who had established themselves through London’s pub rock circuit before finding residency at the Comedy Store in London in the late 1970s. There was a whole bunch of them: Alexei Sayle, Nigel Planer, Peter Richardson, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Andy de la Tour, and Mayall’s comedy partner Ade Edmondson. And if the press were to be believed (which generally they’re not) these young people were taking over everything. To be fair, it was very difficult to see any one of these acts in the late seventies early eighties on TV. Yes, yes, they did, of course, pop up on late night chat shows like Friday Night, Saturday Morning, or the strange one-off hybrid series like Boom, Boom, Out Go the Lights—which mixed traditional and alternative comedy, or sketch shows like the hugely popular A Kick Up the Eighties. But a five minute blast here or a half-hour there wasn’t exactly storming the Crystal Palace.

At the time out of the Alternative Comedians, it was between Mayall and Sayle who appeared the most on TV. Sayle had been the compere at the Comedy Store who changed his style of stand-up after seeing Robin Williams. He performed his Marxist-inspired routines on a variety of what might be loosely termed traditional shows—most surprisingly on O.T.T. an adult version of kids cult show Tiswas—kids, Sayle once remarked, loved him, but he wasn’t exactly fond of the little critters. Mayall, meanwhile, appeared in adverts for candy bars, sketch shows, music shows (reading his poetry, of course), and then established himself in the nation’s psyche as the investigative reporter Kevin Turvey in A Kick Up the Eighties.

So far so good. But it was when he wrote and devised The Young Ones with Lise Mayer and Ben Elton circa January 1981 that the world was about to change and a Comedy God appear unto nations.
‘Once every lifetime…’
Nine o’clock on a Tuesday night, November 9, 1982, The Young Ones were unleashed onto the world. Though the series followed a traditional sitcom format of four people in a room with a TV, The Young Ones managed to divide a nation and started, for want of a better word, modern comedy. This was a time when there were just four main channels on British TV: BBC 1 and 2, ITV, and the newly launched Channel 4—which some areas of the country didn’t yet receive. Television hadn’t changed much over the previous decade or two. Monty Python and Spike Milligan’s Q series had made some inroads but their shock value had gone. The Young Ones horrified an older generation who believed these four selfish, nasty, incompetent, and odious characters Rik, Vyvyan, Neil, and Mike would corrupt their offspring and lead to the downfall of civilization. Some wanted the show banned. Others wanted the BBC Licence Fee stopped. But, for a younger generation who were starved of any television programs they could relate to, The Young Ones was like a hand grenade going off at a church service.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher
01:41 pm
Jimmy Savile’s ‘Carawagon’ for sale

Sir Jimmy Savile’s Range Rover Carawagon is up for sale, with an estimated price of between £11,000-£16,000 ($17,000-$24,000). The vehicle is described as a:

‘...first-generation Range Rover was produced between 1970 and 1996. The original car was not designed as a luxury-type 4x4; whilst certainly up-market compared to preceding Land Rover models, the early Range Rovers had fairly basic, utilitarian interiors with vinyl seats and plastic dashboards that were designed to be washed down with a hose. Convenience features such as power assisted steering, carpeted floors, air conditioning, cloth/leather seats and wooden interior trim were fitted later. The Carawagon was a Land Rover approved special vehicle, built by Searle of Sunbury-on-Thames.’

Of interest to future biographers of the legendary DJ, TV host and marathon runner, is the conversions made to Sir Jimmy’s Carawagon:

‘Only very few Range Rovers were converted; probably due to the price of £3040 compared to £2450 for a 109 conversion with 4 beds, although they were still available in sales lists until 1980. Carawagon closed down in the mid-1980s.

This 1978 Range Rover Carawagon was ordered and supplied to Sir Jimmy Savile OBE, KCSG, disc jockey and television presenter, to aid him with his charity work, so when necessary he was able to remain on site and live at the location of the project. The vendor believes that this Range Rover spent much time parked at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, an institution that benefitted hugely from Jimmy’s patronage. Finished in white, this Carawagon is fitted with a double bed, and comes with a wash basin fitted between the front seats and curtains.’

For indeed this may have been one of Sir Jimmy’s infamous “passion wagons”, in which he would get friendly with his fans.

The story of his passion wagon was a bone of contention with Sir Jimmy, when he was confronted by a TV audience of pesky kids, desperate to find out if the stories of his having sex with young fans in the back of his “nookie mobile” were true?

This happened on the BBC youth series Open to Question in 1989, where celebrities, from the world’s of entertainment, politics or sport, were quizzed by an audience of primed pupils from schools across the U.K. It was their job to pose those difficult questions grown-ups never did. And it was my job, as the show’s researcher, to ensure they were asked. For this I had to write a mini-biography for each guest, highlighting areas of interest for these youngsters to probe.

Guests ranged from royalty, Princess Anne, to entertainers, Ben Elton, Stephen Fry, to politicians Neil Kinnock, and Senator Gary Hart (who was asked about fucking-up his Presidential ambitions through his association with Donna Rice).

So, the week Sir Jimmy (or plain Jimmy O.B.E., “old big ‘ead” as he joked back then) appeared on Open to Question, our band of keen interrogators asked the great man if the stories about his sex life and his means of seduction, the passion wagon (which had been described as a Bedford van with a mattress in the back) were true?

The great, shell-suited Mr Fixit didn’t like the tone of the questions and said he thought the youngsters had been put up to mischief by asking such. Well, in a way they had. But that was the program’s policy. The information the youngsters used had been taken from the great man’s autobiography and from published interviews. Thinking he was being set up, Sir Jimmy avoided the question. Yet, after the cameras were turned off, and the producer David Martin and myself made our way down from the gallery to the studio floor, Sir Jimmy started to answering impromptu questions from the audience. Whether he was telling the truth or, maintaining a myth, when asked again about his “passion wagon,” Jimmy Savile admitted he did have a passion wagon and that all the stories about his sexual shenanigans with young fans were true. This announcement seemed to endear Savile to the teenage inquisitors. Why, I don’t know. David Martin then turned to me and said, ‘I knew we should have kept the cameras rolling.’

The question now, is whether this particular Carawagon was one of Sir Jimmy’s vehicles of pleasure? If you’re interested in buying Sir Jimmy Savile’s Range Rover Carawagon, you check details here for further details.

As for Open to Question, Sir Jimmy went to the press (the Daily Express) and complained about the show being a fix, after he spoke to our born-again PA who ‘fessed up everything. Not that there was much for her to ‘fess up.
More pix of Sir Jim’s ‘Carawagon’, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher
07:55 pm