Rik Mayall interview: Jonathan Creek, Bottom, Hooligan's Island, & more...
We spoke to the inimitable Rik Mayall about his return to Jonathan Creek, the scrapped Bottom reunion, and why he is Jesus...
Just a word of warning for the faint-hearted. Before you proceed, the following interview contains some, ahem, colourful language from Dr the Rik Mayall, a pan-global phenomenon, and the only one of his kind...
(Oh, and any TV, film, radio or theatre writers reading this, there's an open talent call at the end, so have your business cards at the ready).
This is your return to Jonathan Creek as the formidable DI Gideon Pryke...
The very first time I was offered Gideon Pryke was straight after Blair assassinated me, when I fell off my quad bike...’fell off’ my quad bike. I was medically dead for five days, this was the day before Good Friday before Easter. 2000 years after Jesus.
Oh you can laugh, but I am the son of God. That’s what Jesus said, ‘You can laugh!’
So on the fifth day you rose again.
Don’t try and squash this, I was dead for five days and Jesus was dead for three. I went down on Crap Thursday which is the day before Good Friday. So from Crap Thursday to bank holiday Monday, can you imagine that? A bank holiday, there is nothing weirder than that, try telling that to the bankrupt. So I beat Jesus 5-3 and I became the new Jesus. No I can’t say that, there has only ever been one Jesus. Gideon Pryke was the first role I took after that so it was quite a job to do that, but I think I did a brilliant job, I really like the character, honestly. In The Black Canary he wasn’t really interested in people, he was just interested in the crime and I think that very quietly he was a bit of a c*nt with a small ‘c’. A very small ‘c’. I think he has quite a crush on Sheridan’s character Joey in this new episode, I mean who hasn’t? He takes an interest in Joey very early on but it’s also to do with the plot, it is such an impossible mystery. I am not being sycophantic but I think David has written a fantastic piece. It is such an interweaving plot. You just think ‘What the fuck is going on?’
Were you really medically dead for five days? Have you fully recovered?
Oh yeah. I died. Which is fantastic because I have died already, I have been there and come back. I am completely recovered thank you. I wanted to do a live tour and tell people about how great Rik Mayall is. Did I tell you I was given a doctorate?
You didn’t know this? I was given a doctorate, awarded a doctorate. Other people get their fucking Baftas, but Exeter University, which is a fucking difficult university to get into... you need to find a really good map, no I mean it is a really brainy place and only the top brainies go there and not just naughty children. Right out of the blue they awarded me this doctorate; I thought ‘This is nice!’ a doctorate of literature for writing thousands of knob jokes. So I am now ‘Dr The Rik Mayall’ a pan-global phenomenon.
Talking about thousands of knob jokes....
What is the number that is a bigger than a billion?
Okay what is the number that is bigger than a trillion?
Is that a fact?
There is a number called septillion but that is probably seven times more, so there must be something before that.
Quadrillion!... okay so a quadrillion, what was it?
(Laughs) ok so speaking of my quadrillion knob jokes, or the knob joke that I have told a quadrillion times in so many different ways.
Is Bottom going to be returning, can you elaborate on that?
I promised myself I wouldn’t today because I want to talk about....what’s it called again?
I want to talk about Jonathan Creek. Yes I am completely recovered thank you!
You’re dodging the question!
Yes with my skills at dodging. So I was having a wank this morning...
So is Bottom coming back? There have been a lot of rumours on Twitter.
In simple terms, I phoned Ade and said ‘Hey why don’t we do Bottom but have it as older blokes’ and it got called Hooligan's Island which I wasn’t so keen on because we have used that title, I think it was just a working title at the time but the BBC snapped it up they said alright write a couple of episodes and see if you get anything. I did and Ade thought we weren’t old enough and I wanted us to be older like...dammit who played Alfred Steptoe, who played the old Steptoe, William Bramble? Wilfred Bramble! I wanted us to be like that, crumbling old shits and crumbling old nasties and Ade said we’re not old enough and that we should do it in ten years. I said that in ten fucking years I won’t be able to think, the two brain cells I have left will not work! There is a fucking thing called acting and something called makeup but he said ‘No I don’t think we’re old enough!’
On the other hand it is very exciting being in your mid-fifties, people are, personally I am not, but people can be very bitter in their fifties. People get the blues in their forties, like the male menopause. I missed most of that because I was...
Yeah I was dead!! Also I was stuck in recovery. Me and Ade did a couple of Bottom tours and I have done various telly and films so things are pretty okay. Of course by the time I was fifty I wasn’t unhappy at all but baddies have got to be motivated and I have always liked playing baddies or idiots or bastards! You can stretch further out into playing something straighter but I have always loved Anthony Hopkins, I would have quite liked some of his roles please!
Did you want Hitchcock?
Err no, I was thinking more of Hannibal Lecter. He is very rich though, and he does it without my vanity.
What are you doing next?
There has been an offer of a sitcom which will be completely different where I play someone’s dad, so we will have a look at the script. There’s a very naughty thing that I promised I wouldn’t say today, it is very naughty and has been very quietly released. It is called The Last Hurrah, it is released on CD which I wrote with a couple of bad men from Cornwall called Craig Green and Dominic Vince. It sounds very nice but I play a snowman called Elton and I don’t think that’s going to be going out on the normal channels. He is immortal, he has lived forever, he knew Hannibal and Adolf, and he knew them all and has been everywhere. There is a gentleman’s drinking club in London called The Last Hurrah which has been there for five hundred years and no one has been able to find it. We made the CD down in Plymouth and no one really knows about it so I am hoping it gets its own cult, rather than me announcing it to the national press, which I haven’t done!
Just going back to Jonathan Creek...
But I am supposed to be talking about Jonathan Creek, of course!
Do you get given the whole script when you’re filming, or are some of the twists or reveals held back from the actors?
I know the whole thing, I think you have to. It depends on the kind of actor you are too. Everything that you can possibly think out, Pryke already has thought out so he is more interested in what other people think, but it is such a dense plot, it is very stimulating right until the very end, and I was surprised by the ending. It is a real page turner; it could have been a novel. Also can I just say what fun it was to do again, that is a really pathetic show biz thing to say but it really was fun working with David, he is a fucking good director.
Nigel Planer is in this episode...
Yes I meant to say that!
Did you get to share screen time with him in this?
I got to share a lot of dressing room time with him. He is such an animal; he nearly put my back out three or four times. It was lovely seeing Nige, we didn’t get to share a lot of screen time, we saw each other a lot on the set and I laughed so much with him. I see him in normal life anyway but it was so nice. I would love to do something with Nige again. Get someone who is reading this to have an idea and write a film or a play or a sitcom for me and Ade and Nige. That would be a good idea, what I would like to have is writers, I want some writers who can stimulate the part of my brain that hasn’t been touched yet. I would love to do more on the stage, having actual contact with the audience is great. You can give them a good seeing to!
And on that note, Rik Mayall, thank you very much!
Jonathan Creek returns to BBC One on Monday the 1st of April at 9pm with The Clue of the Savant's Thumb.
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