Just days after Rik Mayall’s death at the age of 56, fans have organised a campaign to get the Bottom actor’s overlooked World Cup anthem, Noble England, to number one in the music charts.
The song, in which Mayall performs the iconic speech from Shakespeare’s Henry V over rousing chants, was originally released in 2010 for the South Africa World Cup, but failed to chart. Now, however, “chart-hijacker” Jon Morter, who used Rage Against The Machine to prevent X Factor winner Joe McElderry from securing the Christmas number one in 2009, has joined a similar campaign in tribute to Mayall. The song is, at the time of writing, number one on Amazon and number 13 on iTunes. To reach number one, though, it will have to beat X Factor’s Ella Henderson, who is currently on course to take the top spot.
Speaking to RadioTimes.com about the campaign, Morter said: “It’s a great tune. It would be nice to give it the exposure it deserves as last time there were loads and loads of football songs out in 2010 – you couldn’t move for football songs. So it’s not a surprise it didn’t do too well. There’s no official World Cup single this year, though, and it’s a great accolade.”
“A lot of people have fond memories of [Rik] and they’re showing it in the way they know. I think that the chart hijacking thing is a way of people coming together to show how they feel. With Rage Against The Machine, it was a protest, with this… It’s an outpouring, but not of grief, more of a celebration. And that’s what I wanted. It’s a celebration of this crazy guy that many of us grew up watching. I think it’s what he would have wanted.”
Indeed, after Gary Barlow’s Greatest Day was quietly ditched by the FA, there is now no official song for the 2014 World Cup. Monty Python, however, have released an updated version of their Life of Brian song, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, as an unofficial contender.
Although Morter did not start the Noble England campaign, he was asked to come on board by those campaigning on Facebook due to his expertise; a coincidence, he says, as he was actually on set for the filming of the song’s video in 2010.
“My ex-wife took the promo shots for it,” he explains,” so we spent a day with Rik taking pictures. It was at Leeds Castle in Kent. The premise was that Rik was dressed as a medieval King Henry and we were taking shots of him in the castle with this regal background behind him.”
“It was good fun. He was exactly as we were expecting. He was professional but he was Rik Mayall. He was coming out with funny stuff here and there but it was totally natural – it wasn’t an act. I remember a moment where they gave us a golf cart because we had to go to different parts of the castle in the grounds. So we ended up driving this golf cart around and as we drove past a group of American tourists, Rik, wearing this massive king’s robe, starts waving at them and shouting, ‘hello subjects! Lovely day, isn’t it?!’ It was amazing.”