TV comic Rik Mayall on the best and worst of London life
The pleasure of eating Thai food in Fulham - and the peril of fouling oneself in Westminster Abbey: "I thought that might surprise you," says the energetic writer and comedian with tongue firmly in cheek.
Mayall, 52, famous for his roles in The Young Ones, Bottom and The New Statesman, has recorded the unofficial England World Cup anthem Noble England
What's your favourite neighbourhood?
My awkward answer is I don't really have a favourite. My honest answer is I like exploring, wandering around on my own and turning up in strange places unexpectedly.
So the London I don't know is my favourite bit of London.
Your favourite building?
It would be the Brick Lane Studios, which is practically invisible because it's mainly curry shops around there.
What's wonderful about it is that there's just a little green doorway and some steps on the right, like so much of London. It opens up and inside is a secretive, vaguely Dickensian place where Queen and The Clash recorded.
It's also where I recently recorded my new single, Noble England.
Most hated building?
My most hated building is Westminster Abbey. I thought that might surprise you.
It's not the building's fault so much as when I was a little boy, a 14-year-old in Worcester, I came down on a school trip to see London.
We went round the Abbey and I wanted to go to the toilet and couldn't find one. I ended up fouling myself in front of the altar and that's why it's my least favourite building.
Best view in London?
Again, we're back to Brick Lane Studios. It's Trevor Horn's place by the way and he's got a fabulous, high art, experimental sculpture all the way across the wall.
Some people would call it erotica. It's two nudes in close up and inside there, erm, is my favourite view.
Favourite open space?
I haven't been there yet but it's where I'll be knighted when the England football team brings home the World Cup
Rik Mayall on his favourite open space: Buckingham Palace Gardens
Buckingham Palace Gardens. I haven't been there yet but it's where I'll be knighted when the England football team brings home the World Cup for Her Majesty.
I'll personally give it to her in the garden.
Most interesting shop?
I wouldn't call myself a massive shopper but I like sucking fags. I don't have a favourite tobacconist but there's a little place on Brick Lane where I bought some cigarettes a few weeks ago.
I was smoking outside and I realised Brick Lane could easily be re-named 'Rik Lane' - that's why it's the most interesting shop I know.
Favourite pub, bar or restaurant?
Down in Fulham is a lovely restaurant, a Thai place called the Blue Elephant. I was taken there for a birthday a few years ago.
It's got flowing water everywhere, the food is fantastic and it's also got the most beautiful waitresses.
Most memorable night out?
Ade (Edmondson) and I always used to call it 'the Hammer'. I think Lemmy from Motorhead called it that as well. I'm talking about the Hammersmith Odeon or the Apollo as it is now.
Bottom was about a pair of slobbish flatmates living in Hammersmith
On this particular night we were on tour with Bottom and I set fire to the set with my penis.
We had some explosives set into my trousers and they were explaining to me that when Ade hits you over the head, you roll over there and press the button here... this one here? I said.
There was a huge bang and lots of flame as my trousers blew up. Fortunately, all this happened before the audience was even in the building.
How would you spend your ideal day off in London?
It would be spent sleeping. Under my two Kate Moss photos. If I had to get up, I'd probably go hang myself in the toilet.
Where would you take a visitor to London?
If it was someone who hadn't been to London before, I'd go out shopping with them and take them straight to Topshop.
Then I'd go out for lunch in Starbucks, then meet up with my girlfriends and sleep up at my place. Alright?
Then we'd go out for a McDonald's carry-out, come back home for a sleepover and stay up all night watching Britain's Got Talent - to show them just what it means to be British.
The worst journey you've had to make in London?
Hammersmith is my stomping ground I suppose. And one of the great opening credit sequences was for the telly show Bottom, where you had Richie and Eddie - me and Ade - sitting on a bench.
If you were to come to the end of King Street where it meets the big roundabout to get to the Hammersmith Apollo, you'd find that same bench on a traffic island - until one day they took it away and put a pelican crossing in its place.
That for me is the worst journey I ever made, discovering what had happened to that bench.
Your personal London landmark?
It's near Hyde Park Corner - the Royal Artillery Memorial, which is a magnificent piece of sculpture designed by Charles Sargeant Jagger.
The Artillery memorial, near Hyde Park, is made of bronze and granite
There's one soldier there who gets me. He's got a cape on and is standing as if he's in the shape of a cross.
It's also the fact he's got the dignity a military man would have and yet he's tired and sad, with a lump in the front of his cape where his gas mask might be.
Every time the No.9 bus goes past there, I look at him and think this is such a powerful piece of art.
Your favourite fictional Londoner?
Eddie Catflap. He's a character played by the legendary Ade Edmondson and he's a local boy from Hammersmith.
So was Richie Richard, my character, and they lived together in some scuzzy old house not far away from where my flat was.
Favourite London film, book or documentary?
I don't think it's been made yet really. But it could be this new screenplay that Peter Richardson (of Comic Strip Presents... fame) and I have been working on.
I'd love to tell you the plot but I can't - someone will steal it. It does end badly though.
Which time period in London, past or future, would you like to go to?
I'd like to go and see my grave. I'd like to see where they bury me and what the b*****ds say about me.
What I want written is, here lies the Rik Mayall with 'the' underlined. And underneath it says, it's not true.
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