It was with sadness yesterday that I read reports that Rik Mayall had died. It popped up on Elder's Facebook timeline as the story broke, and as with most internet rumour, I had hoped it was yet another false death report like so many are (what is that about? Surely you have to be all kinds of warped to think that's an acceptable use of your time?)
Sadly it was true, and my generation lost another comedy legend.
Obviously, I was but a tiny tot when Rik was first on our screens in The Young Ones and Comic Strip. I was old enough for Bottom though, and Guest House Paradiso. I found them both stupidly, hilariously funny.
Pure comedy that didn't try too hard like so much does now. I like belly laughs, and prat falls and rude words, and Rik (and of course he was aided and abetted by Ade Edmondson) gave us those in spades.
One of the first films Elder and I watched together on a dodgy VHS video player in his first shared house was Drop Dead Fred. Rik had the ability to make a funny face and make you laugh. He just had one of those extremely expressive faces, whoever he was playing. Not many can face the camera and do one thing with their mouths and reduce an audience to hysterics.
You can certainly see the impression he has made on some of the top comedians we have now- from Miranda Hart and her pieces to camera, to Jack Whitehall and his oafish toff in both Fresh Meat and Bad Education.
I recall the day my Dad brought back the series of the Young Ones on video from our local library, and we set about a happy Sunday pausing and rewinding to see the hidden pop up of a animals. He used to joke about my room being so untidy that my socks would walk down of their own accord. A direct use of Young One's imagery which, until I saw it on screen I had no idea he had stolen it.
It is a sad fact of ageing that people we have grown up with, those who are instantly recognisable and who stir up memories, are lost.
Thank you for the laughs Rik. We lost a true comedy great of the modern age yesterday. RIP.