Adrian Edmondson tearfully remembers Rik Mayall in emotional Desert Island Discs

Desert Island Discs listeners are reacting to Adrian Edmondson’s tearful recollection of comedian and actor Rik Mayall.

Edmondson appeared on the BBC Radio 4 show, which is hosted by Lauren Laverne, when the subject of Mayall arose.

Mayall, with whom Edmondson collaborated with on sitcoms The Young Ones and Bottom, died aged 56 in June 2014 after suffering a sudden heart attack.

Before introducing the song “Saturday Gigs” by Mott the Hoople, Edmonson remembered professionally splitting from Mayall in 2033 due to the belief they’d “gone over the top of the mountain”.

However, Edmondson said Mayall had wanted to work with him again and, whenever Edmonson called his friend, Mayall thought it was about a possible reunion. Eventually, Edmondson agreed, telling the fellow comedian: “Alright, let’s write a couple of episodes of a new series, hand it in, they’ll [the TV commissioners] say ‘no’, and then it’s not my fault anymore.”

The series ended up being commissioned, but the duo were unable to complete it before Mayall’s death.

When Laverne asked Edmondson what his memories are of Mayall, Edmondson said: “I think of the writing room all the time. We spent more time in the writing room than anywhere else. And I remember just laughing like drains.”

Here, Edmondson grew emotional and, fighting back tears, continued: “His mum… his mum wrote me a lovely letter. I wrote to her after he died and she wrote back, saying all she could remember was us – she could see us out in the garden, a couple of deck chairs just laughing and laughing and laughing – and she could never tell what was quite so funny.

‘It was funny. It was good fun,” he said, as Laverne added: “He gave that to so may people. Shall we have some more music?”

Edmondson then described “Saturday Gigs” as his and Mayall’s song, stating: “This song is really about the fear we had before every tour, that we no longer had the magic. The song sort of speaks of never quite knowing where the success has come from. ‘Saurday Gigs’ was our song, and would bring a small tear to our eye.”

Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson in 1991


Listeners were left in tears over Edmondson’s moving recollections, with one writing: “Sobbing into my lunch listening to Adrian Edmondson talking about Rik Mayall on Desert Island Discs.”

Another added: “You think you’re going to be ready for Adrian Edmondson talking about Rik Mayall, but then you hear it. Don’t fast forward, let it wash over you,” while an additional listener called Edmondson’s memories of Mayall “something quite beautiful”.

Mayall was recently named by Harry Potter child star Oliver Phelps as being the friendliest and encouraging famous star at the first ever cast table read for the film series.

His role as Peeves was ultimately cut from the film.