British comedy stars including Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders and Adrian Edmondson turned out to remember funnyman Rik Mayall as he was laid to rest on Thursday (19Jun14). Around 140 mourners gathered at St George's Church in the village of Dittisham in Devon, England for the funeral of the beloved performer, who died aged 56 on 9 June (14).
Among the congregation were French and Saunders, who landed their big break alongside Mayall in 1980s TV sketch series The Comic Strip Presents..., and comedienne Ruby Wax.
Nigel Palmer, who starred in U.K. sitcom The Young Ones with the late actor, was also in attendance, while Mayall's longtime comedy partner and friend Edmondson was among the pallbearers who carried the wicker coffin adorned with red flowers into the church.
Before the funeral, Mayall's widow Barbara Robbins thanked fans for their support, saying, "We would like to let you, the fans, know that we will be having a private family funeral for Rik, as I am sure you will understand.
"Thank you again for all your love and support to all our family, it brings great strength."
A public memorial service for Mayall is scheduled for September (14).
Actors Eric Idle, Chris O'dowd, Russell Brand and David Walliams are among the stars who have paid tribute to beloved British funnyman Rik Mayall, who died on Monday (09Jun14) at the age of 56. The shocking death has rocked the U.K. entertainment industry and tributes have since flooded in for Mayall, who established himself as a stand-up star in comedy troupe The Comic Strip, a group which also featured his college pal and future professional partner Adrian 'Ade' Edmondson and Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders.
He rose to national fame as one of four students sharing a house in hit sitcom The Young Ones in 1982 and went on to enjoy a slew of iconic roles, including as a mean-spirited politician in The New Statesman and an arrogant military officer in Rowan Atkinson's comedy Blackadder. He also re-teamed with Edmondson to play a pair of hopeless single men in slapstick show Bottom.
Fellow funnyman Walliams was among the first to take to Twitter.com to express his sadness at Mayall's loss, sharing a video clip of his role in Blackadder and writing, "I am heartbroken that my comedy idol growing up Rik Mayall has died. He made me want to be a comedian."
Simon Pegg simply posted YouTube footage of Mayall in The Young Ones with fans, while Brand tweets, "And all the grown-ups will say, 'But why are the kids crying?' And the kids will say, 'Haven't you heard? Rick (sic) is dead' RIP".
Irish actor O'Dowd adds, "Very sad to hear about Rik Mayall's passing. 'Bottom' was a huge part of my youth", and director Edgar Wright posts, "Shocked and saddened that a comedy hero is gone; for those who grew up on The Young Ones, Rik Mayall was one of funniest performers ever."
Monty Python veteran Idle tweets, "Very sad to hear of the passing of Rik Mayall. Far too young. A very funny and talented man", and Blackadder producer and writer John Lloyd tells the BBC, "It's really a dreadful piece of news. He was the most extraordinarily good actor as well as being an amazing stand-up comics. Apart from being great company, he was a great professional."
Meanwhile, his close friend Edmondson has also issued a statement about the years they spent working together, declaring, "They were some of the most carefree, stupid days I ever had and I feel privileged to have shared them with him."
Mayall's cause of death has yet to be determined, but a spokesman for Scotland Yard police reveals paramedics were called to the comedian's house in Barnes, south-west London at 1.20pm local time, when "a man, aged in his 50s, was pronounced dead at the scene". His passing is not believed to be suspicious.
His death comes 16 years after the comedian was left in a coma for several days in 1998 following a quad bike accident near his home in south-west England. He survived the scare but suffered memory problems as a result of the crash.
In recent years, Mayall had concentrated mainly on voiceover work and TV shorts.
In August (12), Mayall announced plans to reunite with his co-star Adrian Edmondson to bring Bottom back for a new series, titled Hooligans' Island.
However, Edmondson has now confirmed the project has been shelved after the comedy duo failed to make progress.
He tells BBC Radio Essex, "There isn't a Bottom series four. There isn't anything. We started working on something and we realised why we stopped working together. It wasn't working."
Asked why he exited the Bottom revival, Edmondson adds, "Because I enjoy other things more... I'm aware that people think comedy's easy to do and write and everything, and it relatively is to be honest. But once you get to a certain age you want to do things you really enjoy, not just things you can do."
A spokesperson for the BBC, which aired the sitcom between 1991 and 1995, says, "I can confirm that Hooligans' Island is not going to be made."