Inside Rik Mayall’s intriguing early life that shaped him to be a comedy genius

Richard Bevan
Richard Bevan
3 Min Read

In an exclusive delve into the past, we’re taking you back to the early years of Rik Mayall, the iconic British comic who dazzled our screens with his larger-than-life humour and undeniable talent. Born into a world of drama and theatre, Mayall was destined for the stage from the moment he drew his first breath.

Born on 7 March 1958 at 98 Matching Tye near Harlow, Essex, Mayall was the second of four children born to Gillian and John Mayall. Both drama teachers, the couple cultivated an environment of theatrics, undoubtedly leaving an indelible mark on young Rik’s psyche.

Rik was one of the most popular comedy stars of his generation

As a boy of three, Mayall relocated to Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire, with his parents, older brother Anthony, and younger sisters, Libby and Kate. In that quaint Worcestershire town, Mayall spent his formative years surrounded by the mesmerising world of his parents’ plays.

His journey to comedic stardom took an exciting turn when he attended King’s School Worcester. Despite landing a free scholarship to the esteemed institution, Mayall’s academic performance was far from stellar – he flunked most of his O-levels and barely scraped through his A-levels.

But his passion for performance and drama carried him to the University of Manchester in 1975, where he majored in the subject closest to his heart – Drama. It was here, amidst the artistic frenzy of Manchester’s creative circles, that Mayall would meet future comedy cohort Ade Edmondson, and the brilliant Ben Elton, both fellow students.

Mayall once jested that he either failed to achieve a degree and didn’t bother showing up to his finals. In actual fact, he graduated with lower second-class honours in 1978.

Rik met Ben Elton at University

Notably, it was also at Manchester that he met Lise Mayer, who would later play a significant role in his life as the co-writer of The Young Ones. This iconic British sitcom catapulted Mayall to national fame.

Rik Mayall’s early life, brimming with theatrical influences, academic roller-coasters, and his fortunate meeting of minds at university, paved the way for his extraordinary career in comedy. An inimitable force of nature, his journey from a child raised in the theatre’s wings to an acclaimed comedian is a testament to his innate talent and unstoppable drive. Much like his humour, his legacy remains timeless and enduring – truly the mark of a comedy genius!

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