1980s Culture

RIP Rik Mayall, a true 80s icon

Once in every lifetime..

Once in every lifetime..Rik Mayall. 1958-2014


By Miranda Diboll

More often than not this blog is about music. I spent most of the 80s wallowing in it, my escape from life. At first I had a radio, then a little cassette player and  by the end of the decade,  my first CD player…ok, enough!

I also watched a lot of TV in the 80s. Unlike music, which I had complete freedom to choose (three cheers for radio under the duvet and duplicated cassettes on my Boots walkman), I was bound by the viewing habits of my parents. Unlike some friends who had the luxury of their own TV in their bedroom, my viewing was completely dictated by the folk who held the (chunky) remote to the wooden monolith in the corner of the living room.

This meant a lot of game shows and Saturday night telly. Dusty Bin, Little and Large, Jimmy Tarbuck, you get the picture. From an early age I was not allowed to watch TISWAS, it was Multi Coloured Swapshop or the dot. Yes, it was that kind of upbringing.

So when The Young Ones became the talk of the playground overnight, I was the only child who hadn’t seen it. Or at least I thought I was. Junior School playtime became the Young Ones reenactment society as Essex born and bred Thatchers children attempted lines like “Neil, the bathroom’s free! Unlike the country under the Thatcherite junta.” Nobody really got the joke but we all laughed at each others snotty, snorting, eye bulging, gurning attempts at it.

At university  many years later in the early 90s, the last years of life on a grant and all that went with it, I watched videos of the show in an almost as grotty London flat and caught up with what I’d missed. Except I hadn’t missed it really as for some reason those four characters were already familiar to me.

Whilst my parents chuckled at the cosy humour of the Two Ronnies, I’d already been submerged into the world of Rick, Vyvyan, Mike and Neil.

It wasn’t until my student days that I really fell in love with Rik Mayall. By then we had the likes of Newman and Baddeil and Reeves and Mortimer to gaze upon but Rik and Ade could make you laugh without uttering a word.

His death yesterday was sudden and unexpected. The children of the 80s mourn the loss of  a man who captured the zeitgeist of the time, injected his own brand of anarchic humour and made us look at ourselves during that pivotal decade in the early days of Neo Liberalism. Show him to your kids, its what he would’ve wanted.

Postscript: The Young Ones was on after 9pm, right? On BBC2? After the ‘watershed’? I don’t think as many of my playground chums at Buttsbury Junior School were allowed to stay up and watch a load of swearing after 9. Methinks a lot of them snuck downstairs and peered round the door while their parents bellylaughed away. That makes me feel a little better!




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