Rik Mayall, the beloved British comedian, writer and actor, has died at the age of 56, according to a statement from his management, Brunskill.
“We are deeply saddened to announce the death of Rik Mayall who passed away this morning,” Brunskill said in a statement acquired by the BBC. “We will be issuing a further statement in the fullness of time.”
Mayall was the co-creator and star of cult U.K. comedies “The Young Ones” and “Bottom,” which he appeared in alongside his comedy partner Adrian Edmondson. He also headlined British political satire “The New Statesman” and was a member of the comedy troupe The Comic Strip, with Edmondson and other notable British comedians such as Dawn French, Nigel Planer, Peter Richardson, Jennifer Saunders and Alexei Sayle.
Mayall and Edmondson’s double act, “The Dangerous Brothers” was featured on “Saturday Live,” the UK version of “Saturday Night Live,” which helped launch the careers of Ben Elton (with whom Mayall co-created “The Young Ones”), Harry Enfield, Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie.
Mayall was considered one of the pioneers of the alternative comedy movement in the U.K., best known for anarchic and energetic characters who were often prone to fits of slapstick violence, crude humor and hysterical outbursts. In addition to his starring roles, Mayall made memorable cameos in other cult British series such as “Blackadder” and “Jonathan Creek.”
Although his small-screen work made him a household name in Britain, Mayall also appeared in several films. One of his earliest roles was as a chess player in “An American Werewolf in London,” and in 1991 he played the titular character in “Drop Dead Fred” opposite Phoebe Cates. Mayall starred alongside Edmondson in a “Bottom” spinoff movie titled “Guest House Paradiso” in 1999, and appeared as the poltergeist Peeves in “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” although his scenes were cut from the finished film.
The Essex-born actor lent his voice to a number of animated projects over the years, including “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “The Wind in the Willows” and “Watership Down.”
Mayall met Edmondson at the Victoria University of Manchester, where he studied drama. The pair introduced their double act, “20th Century Coyote,” at The Comedy Store in London in the 1980s and went on to collaborate on dozens of comedy shows, live tours and writing projects.
In 1998, the actor was seriously injured after crashing his quad bike near his home in Devon. Mayall sustained two haematomas and a fractured skull, and was comatose for several days.
Mayall is survived by wife Barbara Robbin, a make-up artist, and three children: Rosie (28), Sidney (26) and Bonnie (19). The cause of death is currently unknown.