Already social media has gone into overdrive with tributes from those in the entertainment industry as well as members of the public taking over these channels of communication. There’s no doubt that this is a huge loss, and a tragically young age too, and this will affect an awful lot of people. Famous people do occasionally die young, it’s nothing new, but there’s something about Rik that will touch a nerve more than most.
When it’s one your peers or someone you grew up with watching on TV, it really does put your own mortality to the forefront. I was at school when The Young Ones started in the early 80s and the character he portrayed, plus that of Kevin Turvey really summed up the era we were living in. OK, he was older than me but not by much – a relatively paltry 11 years.
I got the impression that Lord Flasheart in Blackadder was a role that he took particular pleasure from and in many ways he stole the show despite only a few appearances not unlike the the ‘genial’ Grouty did in Porridge. Rik was loud and brash in pretty much any role he played but that shouldn’t hide the fact that the characters were often poles apart – he was a terrific actor.
Take the Tory MP Alan B’stard and compare with Drop Dead Fred or Richard “Richie” Richard from Bottom for example. He could dip into a suave persona but the shouting Rik would never be far away. That may seem pretty 2 dimensional to carry it off in so many different shows and movies really puts his ability into focus.
I last saw him perform in Man Down last year with Greg Davies who was not unlike Rik in persona himself. It was certainly an understandable casting decision despite the height differential. Man Down was a rather curious show which I enjoyed but with Rik playing the lead’s father highlighted that he wasn’t the spotty student in the Young Ones anymore. As a swansong this was probably not his finest moment but he was still arguably the best thing in it regardless of the totally outlandish scenes he was asked to play.
No matter, it was all part of the man and we will miss him dearly – it’s hard to imagine that we’ll ever see his like again.
RIP RIK – we will miss you.