When the familiar cartoon bomb credits begin in tonight’s latest Comic Strip Presents caper there is one name sadly missing from the cast credits.
Rik Mayall, the much-loved comedian who died in June 2014, was due to have a role in the satire about the phone hacking scandal, but it was not to be.
“I don’t want to take anything away from the actor who got the part by saying what he was going to do, but yes, Rik was going to be in this,” creator and writer Peter Richardson told RadioTimes.com. “Dear Rik, it was such a shock.”
The comedy sees Maxine Peake play Rebekah, a roller-skating red-head who finds herself becoming the editor of a big-selling tabloid newspaper.
In an outlandish stretching of truth (ho ho) she copes with a “phone tapping” crisis uncovered by the editor of the Guardian, portrayed as a pompous, public school fop by actor Lewis Macleod.
Nigel Planer, Mayall’s co star on the cult 1980s comedy The Young Ones, plays Rupert Murdoch. He told RadioTimes.com that he thinks of Mayall “every day”.
“We’re all still getting over that. It’s a big hole in our gang. I tweet a bit and most of it is all about Rik. The stuff that goes around is still remembering Rik.”
Planer added that the day he learned about Mayall’s death happened to coincide with a London taxi strike when disgruntled cabbies blocked off the streets of the capital.
“When we got the news it was the day the taxi drivers had arrived to jam London, it was the equivalent of a strike and the whole of London came to a standstill. The taxi drivers were everywhere.
“I had to walk through London that day and everyone had ground to a halt and they were all saying sorry about Rik as I was walking along the street and everybody was in tears and so was I. And it seemed like the whole of London had ground to a halt because we had got this news. It was very very moving.”
Still, as well as the dedication to Mayall at the end of the film, there is another tribute to the late star which viewers may not notice at first.
Mayall’s son Sid plays a corrupt copper call Cotton in the film.
Can you see the resemblance?
The Comic Strip Presents… is on Gold on Wednesday 20th January at 10pm