Adrian Edmondson has filmed contributions to Bottom Exposed, a new documentary which will explore the making of his and Rik Mayall’s classic sitcom.
As far as double acts go, to a certain generation Adrian Edmondson and Rik Mayall are at the apex of anarchic comedy. Beginning their career at the start of the alternative comedy movement, performing alongside the likes of Hale and Pace, Ben Elton and Andy De La Tour, their violent Twentieth Century Coyote stage act went quickly from The Comedy Store to The Comic Strip, which itself made the leap to television with their now iconic first film Five Go Mad In Dorset – it was truly a transformative time for television comedy, as it was broadcast on Channel 4 exactly a week before the first episode of The Young Ones debuted on rival channel BBC Two.
After taking their stage act to the screen in the Dangerous Brothers sketches on Saturday Live, during which they explored torture, exploding crocodiles and ‘How To Get Off With A Lady’, and teaming up with Elton once again for the terrific but not quite as well remembered Filthy, Rich and Catflap, and in 1991 they debuted their masterpiece, Bottom.
Bottom followed the misadventures of Richard Richard and Eddie Hitler, both of whom believe they are better than the other, when of course the truth is that neither actually is. While the gag count was incredibly high, the tight scripts are just one of the reasons why each episode is eminently rewatchable, it is the violence for which Bottom is most fondly remembered.
Director Ed Bye painstakingly storyboarded each fight sequence, spending hours on camera scripts and setup, and the result are action sequences that in some instances are actually more well filmed than those in a big budget film, making sure the audience will wince at every hit, pinch, punch, gouge and everything in between, whether it was umbrellas, tentpoles, fire or a dart, Mayall and Edmondson’s imagination was frightening in its injurious ingenuity.
The show ran for three series on the BBC from 1991 to 1995, with 1999 feature film Guest House Paradiso and five hugely successful live tours taking them up to 2003, when they stopped working together.
GOLD is in the process of producing Bottom: Exposed, a two hour documentary chronicling the making of the sitcom. Mayall passed away in 2014, and it is only recently that Edmondson has opened up about their relationship, writing about Mayall with deep affection in his recently released autobiography Berserker, which also goes into frank detail about the breakdown of their working relationship.
Edmondson has filmed an interview for the documentary, which also includes contributions from Bye, cast members Helen Lederer, Kevin McNally, Roger Sloman, Lisa Maxwell and Paul Bradley, and celebrity fans such as Chris McCausland and Maisie Adam.
Edmondson said that “a long time ago, deep in the mists of time, two blokes – I was one of them, Rik Mayall was the other – decided to make a career out of beating the shit out of each other. It was a tempestuous, an anarchic and occasionally quite a dangerous time – we both required hospital treatment on occasion – but above all, it was bloody good fun. We made each other laugh, and luckily for us, we made audiences laugh. This programme seeks to get to the bottom of why it worked”.
Bottom: Exposed will air on GOLD later this year.