A GENERATION of comedy greats said goodbye to one of their own at the private family funeral for Rik Mayall yesterday.
Guests including Ade Edmondson and Ben Elton were among the mourners who attended the service at St George’s Church in the picturesque country village of Dittisham, Devon
Fellow Young Ones co-star Nigel Planer and other fellow performers such as Ruby Wax, Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French also paid their respects.
Mr Mayall, who was know for roles in television hits such as Bottom, The New Statesman and The Young Ones, died at his home in Barnes, south West London, last week, following what was described as an “acute cardiac event”.
The 56-year-old, who also starred in Blackadder, had a home in Devon, where the service took place.
Around 140 mourners filed into the church accompanied by Procol Harum’s A Whiter Shade Of Pale on organ, were Alan Rickman and actor and director Peter Richardson, a long-standing friend with whom Mr Mayall had worked repeatedly, particularly on the Comic Strip Presents films which helped to establish their careers.
Mr Edmondson, with whom Mayall forged a friendship as a student in Manchester and who was his comedy partner for many of his most memorable series, was among the pall-bearers as the coffin was led from the church.
In a tribute to his friend released last week, the actor said: “There were times when Rik and I were writing together when we almost died laughing.
“They were some of the most carefree stupid days I ever had, and I feel privileged to have shared them with him.”
Mr Elton, his old friend from university and one of his co-writers on The Young Ones, was also among the mourners who saw the wicker coffin - adorned with red flowers - carried into the church.
Prior to the service, Mayall’s widow Barbara asked fans for their “thoughts and prayers” during the private ceremony.
A memorial service for the star is expected to be held in September.
Mr Mayall, who was born in Harlow, Essex, shot to national fame for his role as poetry-writing anarchist Rick in The Young Ones, going on to star as conniving Conservative MP Alan B’Stard in The New Statesman and Lord Flashheart in Blackadder.
The service, led by Father Will Hazlewood, celebrated the career of the famously foul-mouthed comic and the mourners were heard to cheer and clap within the church.
Guests filed out to the sounds of the Van Morrison hit Brown Eyed Girl.
Since his death, tributes have flowed in for the performer, who had three children, Rosie, Sidney and Bonnie, and his 2010 World Cup song Noble England has entered into the singles chart.
The track failed to chart the first time around, but thanks to a social media campaign set up in his memory, it reached number seven on Sunday.