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Rik Mayall dies aged 56: The Young Ones comedian and actor has died

The comedian and actor Rik Mayall has died, his manager has said.

Mayall (56) was best known for his roles in The Young Ones and Bottom.

He also enjoyed a wide career on on the big screen, as well as the stage.

Mayall's career also included appearances in some of the BBC's best-loved comedies,  including Blackadder, Bottom and The New Statesman.

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.

He was left seriously ill after a quad bike accident in 1998 which left him in a coma for several days, but was working until recently.

Speaking about the accident last year, 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."

Mayall 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.

Last year the actor took up a role in drama series Jonathan Creek.

Mayall's early stand-up characters - such awkward and anarchic poet Rick - led to the commissioning of The Young Ones, alongside comedy cohort Ade Edmondson.

The series ran for just two series but became one of the BBC's flagship alternative comedy shows, paving the way for a host of others.

Among those paying tribute to Mayall 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."

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."

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's spokeswoman confirmed that the actor, who was married with three children, died at home in London.

Mayall, who was born in Harlow, Essex, to drama teacher parents, also appeared in shows including Filthy, Rich and Catflap.

Other notable characters included the conniving Conservative MP Alan B'Stard in The New Statesman and the feckless investigative journalist Kevin Turvey.

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 Rick Mayall. Great comedian and actor. Funny, brilliant and sharp as nails."

Anarchy and high energy: Rik Mayall's best lines

Rik Mayall was well-known and loved for the anarchic, high-energy scene-stealing style of his comedy that often involved a funny look as much as a funny line.

He played some of the best-remembered comedy characters of the last 35 years, including Rick in The Young Ones, Richard Richard in Bottom, two different incarnations of Lord Flashheart in Blackadder, and devious Tory politician Alan B'Stard in The New Statesman.

An unverified Twitter account was set up in 2010 using the handle @RikMayall. Its sole tweet to date reads: "Opening my very own Twitter to stop another b****** from doing it. So f*** off & don't expect to hear from me any time soon. Love Rik x".

Here are some of his most memorable lines and scenes:

:: As Lord Flashheart in Blackadder II:

(To Baldrick [Sir Tony Robinson], dressed in drag as a bridesmaid): "Thanks bridesmaid, like the beard. Gives me something to hang on to!"

:: As hero pilot Squadron Leader Lord Flashheart in Blackadder Goes Forth (1989)

Flashheart: All right men, let's do-oo-oo it! The first thing to remember is: always treat your kite [taps chalkboard picture of a biplane] like you treat your woman [whips the air with his cane]

Lieutenant George (Hugh Laurie) : How, how do you mean, Sir? Do you mean, do you mean take her home at weekends to meet your mother?

Lord Flashheart: No, I mean get inside her five times a day and take her to heaven and back.

Captain Blackadder (Rowan Atkinson): I'm beginning to see why the suffragette movement want the vote.

Lord Flashheart: Hey! Any girl who wants to chain herself to my railings and suffer a jet movement gets my vote!

 "Captain Darling? Last person I called darling was pregnant 20 seconds later."

:: As Alan B'Stard in The New Statesman (1987 - 92)

"Why should we, the country that produced Shakespeare, Christopher Wren, and those are just the people on our banknotes for Christ's sake, cower down to the countries that produced Hitler, Napoleon, the Mafia, and the the the, the the the, the the the Smurfs!"

"Remember my friends, God is dead. Marx is also dead. But the market lives. The market must become your new God."

:: As Richard "Richie" Richard in Bottom (1991 - 1995):

Richie: Some people are short-tempered, aren't they?

Eddie Hitler (Adrian Edmondson): Yeah, well, about four or five thousand of 'em, by the looks of things.

Richie: Yeah. But it's wonderful, though, Eddie. I mean, look. All the local communities are out there, on the streets.

Eddie: Beating the shit out of each other.

Richie: Yeah! Oh, I love carnival time. Oh, look at that policeman over there!

Eddie: Which one?

Richie: The one jumping up and down, waving his arms.

Eddie: The one that's on fire?

Richie: Yeah!

Further reading

Mayall: I beat Jesus Christ 5-3

Ade keeps quiet about marriage

Bottom TV show 'back in a decade' 

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