The Young Ones, Bottom and The New Statesman star Rik Mayall has died. The British comedian and actor was 56. He passed away at home in London today, although the cause of death is as-yet unknown. The BBC reports that the Metropolitan Police said it was not believed to be suspicious. The Essex-born Mayall was a pioneer of alternative comedy in Britain in the 1980s. He was best known to TV audiences for such sitcoms as The Young Ones, the classic 1982-1984 BBC series in which he starred as a would-be anarchist. He co-created that show along with Blackadder‘s Ben Elton. Mayall also starred in the series with Adrian Edmonson, his longtime collaborative partner. The pair, who met at university, formed The Comic Strip in 1982. A group of alternative British comedians, it included Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders. Together, they created spoof series The Comic Strip Presents on Channel 4. In the early ’90s, Mayall and Edmonson also created and starred in BBC series Bottom. From 1987-1992, he played pompous politician Alan B’Stard in ITV’s satire of the Conservative government, The New Statesman. And, throughout the ’90s he popped up as Lord Flashheart in episodes of Blackadder. Among Mayall’s feature credits are An American Werewolf In London and Drop Dead Fred. His management reps at London’s Brunskill issued a statement today that read, “We are deeply saddened to announce the death of Rik Mayall who passed away this morning. We will be issuing a further statement in the fullness of time.” The BBC’s director of television Danny Cohen called Mayall a “truly brilliant comedian. His comic timing was outstanding and his screen presence unique. For a generation of viewers he was a true comedy hero.” Director Edgar Wright tweeted today:
Shocked & saddened that a comedy hero is gone; for those who grew up on ‘The Young Ones’, Rik Mayall was one of funniest performers ever.
— edgarwright (@edgarwright) June 9, 2014