Rik Mayall mourned by comedy world
Friends and admirers have paid tribute to comic actor Rik Mayall – star of The Young Ones and Bottom – who has died at the age of 56.
His wife, Barbara Robbin, who is understood to have found his body, said she did not know how he had died.
Speaking outside the couple's home in Barnes, south-west London, Ms Robbin said: "We don't know yet what happened. He had a strong heart, so I don't think it was a heart attack. But we just don't know until the coroner's report.
"Maybe he had a fit, maybe it was his heart. We just don't know."
Adrian Edmondson, his long-time collaborator, said he felt privileged to have shared "carefree stupid days" with the friend he first met at Manchester University.
Mayall survived an almost fatal quad bike accident almost 16 years ago which left him in a coma for several days.
His career included appearances in shows including Blackadder and The New Statesman, where he played the conniving Conservative MP Alan B'Stard.
Edmondson, with whom he appeared frequently, said: "There were times when Rik and I were writing together when we almost died laughing. They were some of the most carefree stupid days I ever had, and I feel privileged to have shared them with him. And now he's died for real. Without me. Selfish b*****d."
Also praising Mayall – who was married with three children – 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 called him "a fireball of creative comic energy and inspiration".
A Scotland Yard spokesman said officers were called by London Ambulance Service to a house in Barnes, London, where "a man, aged in his 50s, was pronounced dead at the scene".
The death is not believed to be suspicious, he added.
Monty Python star Eric Idle said: "Very sad to hear of the passing of Rik Mayall. Far too young."
Paying tribute, Blackadder producer John Lloyd said Mayall was "just extraordinary".
BBC director of television Danny Cohen said: "Rik Mayall's comic timing was outstanding and his screen presence unique."
Speaking about the April 1998 accident that nearly killed him, 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.
"I beat Jesus Christ," he later joked.
"He was dead for three days at Easter."
From his big break as Kevin Turvey in A Kick Up The Eighties, through to wild-eyed Rick in The Young Ones and Richie in Bottom, Rik Mayall flipped from one manic role to another. As Alan B'Stard in The New Statesman he created a grotesque, self-serving politician who captured the nation's imagination. Even minor roles such as Flashheart in Blackadder are etched in the memory of millions.