The anarchic British comedian Rik Mayall, celebrated for his work in era-defining British comedies such as Blackadder, The Young Ones and The Comic Strip Presents, has died, his agents announced today.
He was 56.
Brunskill Management made the announcement this afternoon, saying, "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."
Mr. Mayall, who was married with three children, was famed for his slapstick routines. In the squalid student house shared by the eponymous Young Ones, rows with his co-star Ade Edmondson frequently culminated in one smashing the other over the head with a frying pan, while hippy Neil decried the violence from the sidelines.
The BBC is reporting that Mr Mayall died at home in London. The Metropolitan Police said the death was not believed to be suspicious.
They said they were called to reports of a sudden death of a man in his 50s at 13:19 BST on Monday, in Barnes in south west London.
London Ambulance Service said "a man, aged in his 50s, was pronounced dead at the scene".
Tributes have been pouring in on twitter from his fellow comedians, writers and other celebrities, a selection of which follow:
Oh no. Awful news about Rik Mayall- a fireball of creative comic energy and inspiration. Such brilliant raw talent. http://t.co/OdAJgjMgnu— Rory Bremner (@rorybremner) June 9, 2014
I am heartbroken that my comedy idol growing up Rik Mayall has died. He made me want to be a comedian... https://t.co/7DAUgjbX9i— David Walliams (@davidwalliams) June 9, 2014
Last time I saw him he grabbed my crotch and said 'Not eaten yet then?" So sad.. Funniest man of his generation— bob mortimer (@RealBobMortimer) June 9, 2014
Just had to write Rik Mayall's obituary for tomorrow's Times. Cried like a baby all the way through.— Caitlin Moran (@caitlinmoran) June 9, 2014
Bigger than Hitler - Better than Christ. Very sad to hear of the death of Rik Mayall at 56. pic.twitter.com/T27C1RdhnX— Liam Geraghty (@Liam_Geraghty) June 9, 2014
RIP Rik Mayall. The man to blame for most of us becoming comedians. The earliest memories I have of being in hysterics were thanks to him.— James Mullinger (@jamesmullinger) June 9, 2014
Very sad to hear of the passing of Rik Mayall. Far too young. A very funny and talented man.— Eric Idle (@EricIdle) June 9, 2014
Blackadder producer John Lloyd said Mayall was "just extraordinary". Speaking to BBC News, he said: "It's really a dreadful piece of news.
"I remember going to the very first night of the Comedy Store and thinking 'Where does this come from?'.
"It was the most extraordinary thing, him and Ade Edmondson doing the Dangerous Brothers, they were called, and you just felt you were in the presence of something, a whole revolutionary thing."
BBC director of television Danny Cohen said: "Rik Mayall was 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."
The clip below, of Mayall hamming it up when he realises a punter is filming him at a charity auction, is a classic. Watch it and try not to weep.