New Documentary Explores Rik Mayall Panglobal Phenomenon

 New Documentary Explores Rik Mayall Panglobal Phenomenon

Marking 10 years since the death of comedy icon Rik Mayall, the writer Max Kinnings looks back at Mayall’s life and career through the recordings they made together during the writing of The Rik’s violently untrue memoir, Bigger Than Hitler, Better Than Christ.

In 2004 comedy legend Rik Mayall was commissioned by Harper Collins publisher, Trevor Dolby, to write his autobiography.

Known for his trailblazing work on shows like The Young Ones, The Comic Strip, Filthy Rich and Catflap, Blackadder, The New Statesman and Bottom, a book by Rik, documenting his rise to fame, his towering achievements and the quad bike accident which put him in a coma for five days, would be a sure-fire best seller.

There was only one problem. Rik didn’t want to write an autobiography.

Uncomfortable with revealing his own personality, and preferring to hide behind comic characters, Rik enlisted the help of writer Max Kinnings and together they wrote Bigger Than Hitler, Better Than Christ - an autobiography of THE Rik Mayall, a monstrous egomaniac, keen to tell his absurd, self-aggrandizing life-story. While dates and details would be real, the anecdotes would be told through the lens of a whole new addition to Rik’s comic characters, one who claimed to have waged a 30 year war on showbusiness.

Rik’s method of writing involved “jamming”, improvising around funny ideas and concepts, hoping inspiration would strike. When it did, the constantly rolling dictaphone would pick it up, allowing Max and Rik to pick over the best bits - and it’s these recordings which led to much of the book, and which form the backbone of this show.

Frequent Rik collaborators - including Ben Elton (The Young Ones), Helen Lederer (Bottom), Bob Baldwin (Grim Tales), Peter Richardson (The Comic Strip), fan Sanjeev Kohli (Still Game), put-upon publisher Trevor Dolby and Rik’s children, Rosie, Sid and Bonnie - are on hand to provide context to the archive audio as we try to tell the story of Rik Mayall. On the way we’ll meet Rik the performer, Rik the subversive, Rik the collaborator and maybe, just maybe, Rik Mayall.

Featuring archive recordings from Fundamental Frollicks, The Oxford Road Show, Wogan, The Young Ones, Bottom, A B’Stard Exposed, Pebble Mill, Steve Wright In The Afternoon and Newsnight as well as Max’s personal audio archive, this is the greatest radio show ever made, about the greatest book ever written by the greatest man that ever lived. If you don’t like it, you’re a w*nker.

  • Written and presented by Max Kinnings
  • Archive Restoration: Andy Goddard
  • Producer: Gareth Gwynn
  • Executive Producer: Simon Nicholls
  • A Mighty Bunny production for BBC Radio 4
8pm, Saturday, 1 June, 2024, BBC Radio 4


Articles on beyond the joke contain affiliate ticket links that earn us revenue. BTJ needs your continued support to continue - if you would like to help to keep the site going, please consider donating.

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.