British comedian Rik Mayall has passed away at the age of 56, which was confirmed by his management company Brunskill Management. The cause of death has not been released, although Brunskill reps said he passed away at his London home this morning, and they would issue a full statement later.
Rik Mayall emerged as a rising comic talent through the 1982 TV series The Comic Strip Presents..., where he performed alongside Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, Robbie Coltrane and his longtime friend and collaborator Adrian Edmondson.
Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson went on to star in and create The Young Ones and Bottom, both of which gained notable cult followings and featured slapstick humor that often involved fires and blows to the head. His roles as the outlandish Lord Blackheart in Blackadder II and Alan B'Stard in The New Statesman throughout the 1980s and 1990s helped solidify his cult status among comedy fans. In America, Rik Mayall is perhaps best known for his title role in the 1991 comedy Drop Dead Fred and the 2001 comedy Guest House Paradiso.
Here's what Adrian Edmondson had to say in a statement about his longtime friend's passing.
"There were times when Rik and I were writing together when we almost died laughing. They were some of the most carefree, stupid days I ever had, and I feel privileged to have shared them with him. And now he's died for real. Without me. Selfish bastard."
Blackadder II producer John Lloyd had this to say in his statement.
"It's really a dreadful piece of news. He was the most extraordinarily good actor as well as being an amazing stand-up comic. Apart from being great company, he was a great professional."
In 1998, Rik Mayall slipped into a coma for several days and was put on life support after an accident on an all-terrain vehicle. Here's what the actor/comedian had to say just last year about the accident.
"The main difference between now and before my accident is I'm just very glad to be alive. Other people get moody in their 40s and 50s - men get the male menopause. I missed the whole thing. I was just really happy."
Following the news of Rik Mayall's passing, director Edgar Wright and comedians David Walliams, Eric Idle, Ricky Gervais, Eddie Izzard and Stephen Merchant offered their tributes to the late comedian through their Twitter pages, which you can take a look at below.