Monday, 9 June 2014

The Young Ones

Rik Mayall is dead and as one of my friends remarked "a generation of British people is in mourning" - how right he is.  

I have come to learn that when the Young Ones first aired I was seven...which makes me wonder what on earth my parents were doing allowing me to watch it and thank them heartily for some frankly lax parenting.  I revelled in the danger of the programme, of Rik (with a silent 'p') Vyvyan, Neil and Mike living a squalid student house with a talking hamster, a psychotic landlord and the likes of Amazulu, Madness and Motorhead popping up in their lounge (as well as cars and boxes containing vampires).  My primary school playground was awash with conversations about the delicious deviousness of the programme, the violence, the language, the spectacle of Vyvyan losing his head after sticking it out of a train window.....

We watched Alexi Sayle chant 'Doctor Marten's boots' and enjoyed the vicarious thrill that comes with knowing that you are watching something that grown ups will not approve of, even if you don't entirely understand what's going on.

I was bought the Young Ones book by my parents one Christmas (and once again I tip my hat to their understanding of precisely what I wanted but didn't dream I'd get) and still remember the excitement of the cod-graffiti inside, the references to what vindaloo and ten cans of export-strength lager does to your insides ("don't let the bottom fall out of your world, let the world fall out of your bottom..."), and Rik's odes to Cliff Richard and Felicity Kendall that didn't exactly chime with his position as an anarchist...

The Young Ones was my entry into grown up comedy and a warm up to the joy of Ade and Rik belting the hell out of each other, and the gas man, with frying pans in Bottom.  And as I look across those people who would have been my playground pals, they're all sharing memories of Flash, Alan B'Stard, the Comic Strip, Man Down and Drop Dead Fred.  Rik in all his frying pan throwing, crotch-thrusting, acid-tongued, nimble-footed, loose cannon glory, thrilling and funny, sharp and just a little bit dangerous.  He will be missed. 

Soundtrack: The Young Ones - Cliff Richards

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