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Family and friends mourn Mayall

Comedy friends such as Ade Edmondson and Ben Elton gathered to bid their final farewells to late comedy star Rik Mayall today as his funeral took place in a country village.

Many of the stars behind the comedy hit which established his reputation, The Young Ones, were among mourners who attended the service at St George's Church in picturesque Dittisham, Devon.

Edmondson, a university friend of Mayall who went on to play the show's punk Vyvyan, acted as a pall-bearer, while Nigel Planer (who played hippy Neil) and Alexei Sayle (landlord Jerzei Balowski) were among more than 100 people who paid their respects.

Elton, who co-wrote the show, was also there to celebrate the life of the comic actor with whom he formed a strong bond as a student in Manchester when they were both teenagers.

Mayall - also known for TV hits such as Bottom, The New Statesman and Blackadder - died last week aged 56 at his home in Barnes, south west London. He also had a home in Devon.

Friends from throughout his career, mainly dressed sombrely in black, attended the service which filled the church with cheers and clapping as they recalled his achievements and his humour.

They also included friends from his appearances in Channel 4 series Comic Strip Presents - with whom he worked repeatedly - including the director and actor Peter Richardson, Dawn French and Edmondson's wife Jennifer Saunders.

Others who filed into the church to an organ performance of Procol Harum's A Whiter Shade Of Pale were Alan Rickman and Ruby Wax and guests saw the wicker coffin carried in, decorated with red flowers.

Prior to the service, Mayall's widow Barbara asked fans for their "thoughts and prayers" during the private ceremony, led by local clergyman Father Will Hazlewood . A memorial service for the star is expected to be held in September.

He collapsed and died following what was described as an "acute cardiac event".

Mayall shot to national fame for his role as poetry-writing anarchist Rick in The Young Ones, going on to star as conniving Conservative MP Alan B'Stard in The New Statesman and Lord Flashheart in Blackadder.

Guests filed out to the sounds of the Van Morrison hit Brown Eyed Girl.

A vintage Rolls-Royce, which carried Mayall's family to the service, struggled to cope with the incline which led to the church holding up the vehicles taking guests away from the service.

The order of service, which was circulated among guests, featured a colour photograph of Mayall wearing a roll-neck chunky pullover.


From Belfast Telegraph