'Drop Dead Fred' star Rik Mayall dies

'Drop Dead Fred' actor Rik Mayall was part of the group the Comic Strip and also starred on such TV shows as 'The Young Ones' and 'Blackadder.' 'Drop Dead Fred' was released in 1991, which garnered new attention for Rik Mayall in the U.S.

Peter Jordan/PA/AP
'Drop Dead Fred' actor Rik Mayall (l., with wife Barbara) also appeared on such TV shows as 'Blackadder' and 'The Young Ones.'

Rik Mayall, one of a generation of performers that injected post-punk energy into British comedy, has died. He was 56.

In the 1980s Mayall was part of the Comic Strip, a hugely influential group of alternative young comics that included Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, and Mayall's writing and performing partner, Adrian Edmondson.

He was best known for co-writing and performing in "The Young Ones," a sitcom about slovenly students that was much loved by those it satirized.

On television he memorably played a Conservative politician in the sitcom "The New Statesman" and lecherous Lord Flashheart in the comedy classic "Blackadder."

He and Edmondson also created and starred in "Bottom," a surreally violent slapstick series about two unemployed slobs.

Film appearances included the title role in the 1991 fantasy "Drop Dead Fred" – which gained him a U.S. cult following – and the 1999 British comedy "Guest House Paradiso."

"There were times when Rik and I were writing together when we almost died laughing," Edmondson said. "They were some of the most carefree, stupid days I ever had, and I feel privileged to have shared them with him. And now he's died for real. Without me. Selfish -------."

In 1998 Mayall was injured in an all-terrain vehicle accident.

"The main difference between now and before my accident is I'm just very glad to be alive," Mayall said last year.

"Other people get moody in their 40s and 50s. I missed the whole thing. I was just really happy."

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