Rik Mayall death: was Young Ones actor in Harry Potter, how did he meet Ade Edmondson, and when did he die?

The actor was best known for his roles in the likes of The Young Ones, Bottom and The New Statesman

Today, Thursday 9 June, Rik Mayall passed away eight years ago, on 9 June 2014.

On the anniversary of his death, fans of the Young Ones and Bottom star have taken to social media to remember the comedian.

Who was Rik Mayall?

Mayall was an English actor, comic and writer best known for his role in a number of prolific comedies, including The Young Ones, The Comic Strip Presents…, Blackadder, Bottom, The New Statesman, Believe Nothing and Drop Dead Fred.

He was born on 7 March 1958 in Harlow, Essex, to Gillian (née Harrild) and John Mayall, the second of four children. He had an older brother called Anthony and two younger sisters, Libby and Kate.

British actor and comedian Rik Mayall being interviewed in January 1985. (Photo by Reg Lancaster/Express/Getty Images)

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Mayall attended the University of Manchester in 1975 to study drama and while he claimed that he failed to gain a degree, he actually graduated in 1978. It was whilst at university that he met his future comedy partner Ade Edmondson, fellow student Ben Elton and Lise Mayer, whom he later co-wrote The Young Ones with.

Throughout his career, Mayall was considered a pioneer of alternative comedy in the 1980s and, after his death in 2014, director Danny Cohen described him as a “truly brilliant” comedian.

Rik Mayall and Marsha Fitzalan pose as their comic 1980’s TV characters Alan and Sarah B’Stard to launch the four-month UK tour of the stage adaptation of their satirical TV series The New Statesman outside the Houses of Parliament, Millbank on March 20, 2006 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

He received accolades like the 1993 British Comedy Award for Best TV Comedy Actor, the 1997 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance, and being named as one of the top 50 comedy performers of all time in the 2005 Channel 4 Comedians’ Comedian poll.

His final TV appearance was in the first episode of season two of Crackanory, which was broadcast posthumously on 24 September 2014.

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Was he married?

In 1985, Mayall married Barbara Robbin, a Scottish make-up artist. They met a few years prior, in 1981, when filming A Kick Up the Eighties. The pair struck up a secret relationship as Mayall was actually in a long term relationship with Mayer.

After finding out that Robbin was pregnant, Mayall left Mayer (who was also pregnant) in the middle of a shopping trip to catch a train to Glasgow, from where he and Robbin then eloped to Barbados.

Speaking about their relationship in 2002, Mayall said: “I gave Lise the house! I suppose it wasn’t very nice at the time, but she’s forgiven me now. It’s all water under the bridge.

“I don’t feel at all guilty. I had to follow my heart. I was living with Lise but I was in love with Barbara. We carried on the affair in secret for five years, until Barbara became pregnant.

“I found out while shopping in the January sales with Lise and Ben Elton, who’d written The Young Ones together. We were in the posh store Peter Jones and I phoned her up.

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“Barbara told me she was pregnant and I said: “I’ll be on the next train.” I told Lise and Ben I wasn’t feeling very well and that I was going home. I just said “Bye” to Lise and didn’t tell her I was leaving her.

“I jumped in a cab, packed a case and my passport and got on a train to Glasgow. Barbara came running down to the platform to meet me - I’m choking up when I think of it now. Then we flew out to Barbados and got married.”

Mayall and Robbin had three children together - Sidney, Rosie and Bonnie.

Was he in Harry Potter?

This might be news to fans of the Young Ones star, but Mayall was actually cast in the first Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

He was set to appear as the poltergeist Peeves in the 2001 film, however, all of his scenes were ultimately cut from the film prior to its release.

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In an interview on the set of Evil Calls that surfaced online after Mayall’s death, the actor discussed shooting Harry Potter, where he revealed that he actually was thrown off set and forced to shoot his scenes separately because the child actors would always end up laughing at all his lines.

While chatting at a convention in 2019, when asked about his favourite deleted scenes, Neville Longbottom actor Matthew Lewis said: “All of Peeves the Poltergeist’s scenes. I hope they can see the light of day, because you’d enjoy them as much as we did filming them.”

He added: “The only problem was none of us could keep a straight face with Rik. I just hope that one day you get to see it and see how brilliant and perfect he was in that role.”

Whilst celebrating the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone last year, director Christopher Columbus called on Warner Bros to release his original three hour cut of the film, which included all of Peeves’ scenes.

Talking to The Wrap, Columbus said: “We have to put Peeves back in the movie, who was cut from the movie!”

The reason that Peeves, and subsequently Mayall, was left on the cutting room floor was that the original version of the film was simply too long, clocking in at three hours. His removal was in a bid to keep the runtime down.

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When did he die?

Mayall passed away on 9 June 2014 at his home in Barnes in Richmond-upon-Thames in London after suffering from a sudden heart attack.

He had gone for a morning jog and, according to a family friend, had seen “happy and healthy” less than an hour before his death at age 56.

Photographs and messages of condolences on the traffic island as a memorial bench for the late Rik Mayall is unveiled on November 14, 2014 in London, England (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)

Peter Richardson, a co-founder of the Comic Strip alongside Mayall, had said at the time that his son had been with Mayall just half an hour before he died.

He described Mayall as having “chatted away happily” and that he “seemed so happy and so healthy”.

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Mayall’s wife, Barbara Robbin, said in a statement that the actor suffered from an “acute cardiac event”.

She said: “He had just returned from his usual run and many people had seen him that morning.

“I, Rosie, Sid, Bonnie and the many in our extended family who have received the thousands and thousands of messages of condolence from all over the UK and beyond these shores would like to say thank you to each and every one of you for your heartfelt love and support.

(L-R) Bonnie Mayall, Sidney Mayall and Rosie Mayall attend as a memorial bench for the late Rik Mayall is unveiled on November 14, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)

“I would like to thank the press for their discretion at this time and for all the wonderful coverage that you have given Rik. It would have made him very happy.

“We always knew that Rik was well loved but we are all overwhelmed by so many joining us in our grief.

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“I am sure that you all know Rik’s response would be something along the lines of, “Well thanks very much all of you… now f**k off!”

Mayall’s funeral was held on 19 June 2014 at St George’s Church in Devon, with the actor buried in his family estate near Totnes.

Remembering Rik Mayall

On the eighth anniversary of his death, many of Mayall’s fans and fellow comedians have taken to social media to remember the actor.

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