Rik Mayall’s untimely death at just 56 last June, saw the country lost one of its comedy greats.
Rik would have been 57 tomorrow, and among those remembering him will be Hebden Bridge writer Dominic Vince, who with his long-time friend and co-writer Craig Green worked with the actor and comedian to create what Mayall himself called “my last great character” - that of the immoral Elton, the last snowman in the world, in the dark-tinged decidedly adult audio comedy The Last Hurrah.
Recorded for BBC Radio 4, a specially adapted radio version of the show, “The Last Hurrah, Interview with the Snowman,” will begin on BBC Radio 4 Extra that day, and continue on March 14, at 11.30pm. Full versions of the show are also available at www.thelasthurrah.co.uk.
Dominic, Craig and Rik worked closely on the project for two years during which they became good friends, said Dominic, who remembers his time working with Mayall with great pride and affection.
“I’d loved Rik Mayall since I was eight, watching his superb narration of George’s Marvellous Medicine for Jackanory,” he says.
“His energy was infectious and the anarchic unpredictability gave you a sense that absolutely anything could happen.
“This same spirit I rediscovered as a teenager watching the first episode of Bottom, my eyes widening, my jaw dropping, as I realised that I’d just found everything I could ever want from a television set.
“It was this unpredictability that made people nervous when meeting him, and in May 2010 I found myself and old school friend Craig Green shifting about at the gates to his Devon house wondering if we were too early, the first (of over 20) drafts of Episode One of “The Last Hurrah” in our hands.
“In public Rik only ever appeared in some form of character (usually a very egotistical, inept, often sexist, and arrogant one). This preserved his mystique and the privacy of his family life, which since his near fatal quad-bike crash in the 90s had become deeply important to him.”
They were there to discuss the scripts for The Last Hurrah.
“Right away we could see how keen he was on the project, in particular his main character Elton, an immortal and deeply immoral snowman,” he said.
“He was professional and painstaking, and went over every line. He expanded everything, all the characters, the whole concept.
“This was the first meeting of many over two years. When I first suggested we call the project The Last Hurrah he protested saying, ‘I don’t want people saying this is Rik’s Last Hurrah.’
“The next time we saw him he’d changed his mind and we were surprised to hear him say ‘Boys, this is my last hurrah, so we’ll go with that.’
“He meant it, and it’s all the more poignant now.
“Series two was quickly written by myself but will now sadly never be recorded.”
Working with the comedy genius was unforgettable, says Dominic. “I loved working with Rik as he took his comedy very seriously, as I do. Writing for Rik, knowing he would read each line, knowing which bits he’d love, was the most exciting experience of my life.
“The idea that I’ll never be able to write for him again is a painful one.”