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RIP 'The Young Ones' Rik Mayall

Photo of Sam Adams By Sam Adams | Criticwire June 9, 2014 at 11:59AM

The star of "The Young Ones" and "Drop Dead Fred" has died aged 56.
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Mayall

If you're American and you've never seen "The Young Ones" -- and if you haven't, you need to rectify that ASAP -- you may not know Rik Mayall. But for fans of that classic British TV series, as well as the singularly abrasive yet strangely charming movie "Drop Dead Fred," Mayall's death comes as a blow, not least because he was only 56, and because he'd spent the last decade-plus coming back from a horrific quad-bike crash that nearly ended his life.

"The Young Ones," whose two six-episode seasons aired from 1982 to 1984, was broadcast in the U.S. on MTV, back in the days when the fledgling network was desperate for cheap programming. Watching as a kid, presumably without close parental supervision, in my suburban living room, my mind was blown. The story of four penniless flatmates was at once adult and flagrantly childish, packed with surrealist humor and dumb puns, and centered on the conflict between Mayall's snotty would-be anarchist and Ade Edmonsdon's Johnny Rotten wanna-be, Vyvyan. While American network TV was airing "Quincy's" infamously tone-deaf "punk" episode, "The Young Ones" made room for two discrete types of punks, a distinction I was too young to understand but which boggled my mind anyway. (If you have Hulu Plus, you can watch the entire series here.)

Mayall and Edmonson worked together many times subsequently, and though neither became a major star outside their native country -- Mayall appeared briefly as the poltergeist Peeves in the Harry Potter series, but most of his scenes were cut -- they remained beloved figures to comedy fans around the world.

Obituaries and Tributes:

Anita Singh, Telegraph

Adam Withnall, Independent: 

The Daily Edge

Stuart Heritage, Guardian

Alan White, BuzzFeed

John Landis



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